August 12, 2015
1. Nickelsdorf connection
Hamid Drake is an American jazz drummer and percussionist, living in Chicago, but spending a great deal of time touring worldwide. Hamid was widely regarded as one of the best percussionists in jazz and avant improvised music, incorporating Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African percussion instruments and influence.
We had the great chance to meet Hamid Drake in the basement of Jazzgalerie in Nickelsdorf, during this year's edition of Konfrontationen festival.
Here's an in depth interview with one of the most versatile drummers in the world, but of all things, a deeply inspirational human being.
As an introduction, please tell us a few words about your connection with Nickelsdorf and with Hans.
Hamid Drake: I met Hans long time ago. The first time I met him when I played in Nickelsdorf in 1979. It was in this room [the basement of Jazzgalerie], with saxophone player Fred Anderson, trumpet player Billy Brimfield and bass player Steve Palmore. So our connection goes back many, many years. A few years later, I played at the festival itself. I would say Hans and I are pretty good friends. And also with the people, over the years a strong relationship has developed with anybody.
Coming to Nickelsdorf is really like a strong family gather; for me it felt that way since the very beginning. For Austria itself and for the music in general, Hans has been a real keystone. He has brought a lot of different types of music, a lot of diverse music to this festival. The festival itself is really multidimensional; I think Hans really needs to be complimented for that.
What do you think kept this festival for so many years, not only alive, but also in a continuously development?
HD: I would say that probably the first thing is the love of the music, you know? This is probably the prime thing, but then also, Hans had a lot of good people that worked with him and also I think he’s been fortunate that he’s been able to get some type of government assistance and stuff like that. In the United States is very different. This particular type of music doesn’t always get that type of financial assistance. Hans’ love for the music, and also the people around him and their love for the music; also the musicians have kept pushing him, probably, and the people who have been coming to the festival all these years. I think it’s a combination of all those things, all those elements who have contributed to keep this festival going.
“Musicians are affected by the audience just as much as audiences are affected by the musicians. The only problem is that often times musicians won’t allow themselves to admit to that fact. ”