Saturday, February 3, 2018

R.I.P.: Ndugu (1952-2018)

(born on July 1st, 1952, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA;
died on February 3, 2018, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

R.I.P.: Leon "Ndugu" Chancler (1952-2018). One of the world's greatest drummers. The man behind many hits by people like Michael Jackson ("Billie Jean" and other tracks for "Thriller" and "Bad") and Santana ("Dance Sister Dance," that he co-wrote), also played with Frank Sinatra (a poweful version of "Stormy Weather" for the "LA Is My Lady" album, produced by Quincy Jones, as we can watch on the video "Portrait Of An Album"), George Duke (some of his best sessions for MPS and Epic), Weather Report ("Tale Spinnin'"), Hubert Laws (killing on the "Family" album, on a fantastic interplay with bassist Nathan East), Patrice Rushen, The Crusaders, Lalo Schifrin, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Azar Lawrence, Joe Henderson, Alphonso Johnson, Gato Barbieri, Johnny Hammond, David Axelrod, Jean-Luc Ponty, Kenny Rogers, George Benson, and dozens of others. 

His Brazilian connection was very strong: Ndugu recorded several albums with Flora Purim ("Nothing Will Be As It Was... Tomorrow," that he produced, plus "Open Your Eyes You Can Fly," "Encounter," "That's What She Said," "Carry On") and played on Raul de Souza's "Sweet Lucy" and "Don't Ask My Neighbors," as well as on Paulinho da Costa's "Sunrise." 

He was also the drummer on all tracks of Fuse One's album "Silk" (CTI), for which he wrote the title track. "Silk" also includes "Hot Fire," a brilliant song that Ndugu originally composed for George Duke's "Reach For It." Prior to "Silk," Ndugu had recorded in some tunes for the first Fuse One project, "Fuse."  

In August 1980, when Ndugu performed at Rio de Janeiro's Maracanãzinho with an all-star band featuring George Duke, Airto Moreira, Raul de Souza, Stanley Clarke and Roland Bautista (plus guests Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau), I was there! Another fabulous all-star concert, in tribute to Duke Ellington at the Wiltern Theatre, in 1987, in LA - with Dianne Reeves, Randy Brecker, Tom Scott, Roger Kellaway etc - was documented on 2 LaserDiscs released under the title "Echoes Of Ellington." One year later, one more gem: an extraordinary concert with Carlos Santana & Wayne Shorter at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival, released on DVD, also featuring Alphonso Johnson, Patrice Rushen, Armando Peraza, Jose Chepito Areas, Chester Thompson. Check all of them, please. Rest in Power.
(George Duke, Ndugu, Alphonso Johnson, Flora Purim, David Amaro, Hermeto Pascoal, Airto Moreira during the recording sessions for Purim's "Open Your Eyes You Can Fly" album in 1976)
(Ndugu, Alphonso Johnson, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Orrin Keepnews, George Duke, Hermeto Pascoal)

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