Drumquestra album cover

Drumquestra is the debut album from Jamaican drum master Larry McDonald.  Being far from new on the scene, McDonald is considered one of the finest percussion exponents in the world, with a career beginning at the heart of the Ska scene over 40 years ago. His list of credits includes collaboration with heavyweight artists Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Lee Perry, Toots & the Maytals, The Wailers, Bad Brains, Taj Mahal, Earnest Ranglin, and the Skatalites to name but a few. 

As you might expect from a percussionist, Drumquestra is heavy on the drums.  The album consists of fifteen tracks of reggae, dub and world music featuring a drum orchestra playing over 20 different percussive instruments.  Often transcending reggae, the music explores rhythms of wide-ranging influence that McDonald has borrowed from Africa, Brazil, Cuba and beyond. Non-percussive instruments are sparse, with a ‘barely there’ presence filling in the gaps to give a warm sound.

Drums aside, the album is also song driven featuring vocalists Toots Hibbert (Toots and the Maytals) along with Ras Tesfa and Mutabaruka.

The first song Head Over Heals featuring Dollarman, and the second tune Brother Man start the album with an upbeat dancehall flavour – no old time reggae tunes here!   By the time the seventh track comes around, the sound is stripped back with McDonald bringing his drumming prowess to the fore.

The last part of the album has a strong Jazz influence, perhaps proving McDonald can try his hand at anything. I think Larry McDonald himself best describes his eclectic music style. He states, ‘I knew that rhythms from many places could work together to develop different textures. I wanted to take the Jamaican rhythms I was familiar with, like Kumina and Rasta and weave them together into a foundation of old and traditional sounds but introduce them as new with diverse beats and textures’.

More info:
Larry McDonald myspace
Youtube video on making of Drumquestra