Christopher Hardy – Mini Interview

1. Where are you from and how did you first become a percussionist/musician?
I was born in Minneapolis and grew up in Detroit. Both great cities with great music! I started piano lessons at a very early age but didn’t really feel things click until I started playing drums at 10. After that, I just played with any album I could get my hands on: Led Zeppelin, Earth Wind & Fire, Parliament/Funkadelic, Motown, Jimi Hendrix, etc.
I didn’t set out to be a musician/percussionist/drummer but things just progressed that way. I started playing hand drums midway through university, the same time I started becoming interested in Middle Eastern/Persian music.
2. What brought you to Japan and what was the scene like at the time for a freelance percussionist?
I came to Japan on tour with the band in 1987 and totally fell in love with the place. Went back, graduated from school, saved up some money and made the move here in 1989. As a drummer, Japan is usually not considered a first choice destination. Most folks usually head to Brazil, Cuba or west Africa but Japan really worked for me. Immediately upon my arrival I met Hamza el Din, who became my mentor and good friend for 10 years. He was living and working in Japan at that time. I was also fortunate enough to work with many traditional Japanese musicians who instilled the beautiful concept of ‘ma’.
The whole music industry was thriving as a whole at that time and the bubble effects were still driving forces. I was very fortunate to be moving across different genres (Rock, pop, jazz, world music) working on recordings, tours and the like.
3. Your music is fairly unclassifiable. How would you describe your various sounds to new listeners?
3) I know artists are supposed to be able to describe their music in a few words but the closest I can come to is something like a ‘sonic time traveler’. Of course as a percussionist I’m dividing time constantly. I’m not only talking about that kind of time. I really get into sounds. Say for instance a performance or sound will instantly transport your mind to another dimension. Of course when you start talking this way some people just look at you with a blank stare on their face. So I just say I was born in Minneapolis and grew up in Detroit listening to Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown, Motown, Led Zeppelin, John Coletrane, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Paco de Lucia, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Simon & Garfunkel, renaissance music…..
I have always wanted to play in a rock band, an orchestra, A Middle Eastern ensemble, North African Berber group, Gregorian chant, flamenco, South America, west African groups… it’s all so amazing!!
4. Current & upcoming projects?
TGA is something that keeps me busy.
September 30 at Absolute Blue in Ikebukuro is our next gig.
(Mr OK Jazz interjection: I’ve seen TGA twice, they are amazing. Go see this gig.)
Tatopani is back after a ten-year hiatus. October 5 at Sometime in Kichjoji.
I’ll be doing a concert with Wagane Ndiaye Rose on the November 23rd. This concert is sponsored by Senzoku Gakuen Music School (The school I teach at) and is open to the public. And I’m on tour with a Japanese-born Korean artist so I’m heading to Korea at least twice a month days.
5. Three favorite albums
5) Salif Keita – Moffou
Paco de Lucia – Zyryab
Calamus – The Splendor of Al-Andalus
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Mr. OK Jazz is a 20+ year resident of Japan and spends all his free time wandering the Kanto area looking for jazz cafes, bars, clubs and record stores. For two years he hosted the OK Jazz radio show on InterFM Radio, currently the OK Jazz podcast. You can reach him at *protected email*