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Healing Session
Babatunde Olatunji
Healing Session
Genres: International Music, Pop
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1

Nigerian drum master Babatunde Olatunji was a phenomenon in the early-1960s when his landmark Drums of Passion inspired such diverse figures as John Coltrane, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His traditional Yoruban trib...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Babatunde Olatunji
Title: Healing Session
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Narada
Original Release Date: 1/1/1992
Re-Release Date: 10/7/2003
Genres: International Music, Pop
Style: Africa
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 724359364629

Nigerian drum master Babatunde Olatunji was a phenomenon in the early-1960s when his landmark Drums of Passion inspired such diverse figures as John Coltrane, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His traditional Yoruban tribal drums and chanting choruses fell out of the American public's favor by the end of the decade, and it wasn't until the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart recorded with him in 1988 that the drummer was again in the spotlight. Recorded in 1992, before Olatunji began to lose his long fight with diabetes (he died in April 2003), Healing Session is a timeless and elegant exhibition of voice and drum's beauty. This traditional meditation music seeps into listener's subconscious and hypnotizes with its dancing poly-rhythms and stirring group chants. Ranging from the almost party-like "Emi Ka Sai D?arugbo" to the scary and stark "Mystery Of Love" to the downright stirring "Primitive Fire," a lot of emotional ground is covered, proving that this ancient music is far from primitive. --Tad Hendrickson

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CD Reviews

Exhilarating, Pure Tradition from the Master
Paul Skiff | NYC | 06/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I wonder if, as a 'reissue', this recording will fulfill the original purpose it was intended for. It was recorded sometime prior to 1992, issued as a limited print of only 1000 cassette tapes, would you believe, and quickly sold out at Olatunji's workshops and concerts during the next year. Then when Olatunji wanted to do another pressing the owners of the recording studio started the usual music biz low behavior and in effect held the master tapes hostage demanding Olatunji pay the studio a ridiculous amount of money, which he agreed to do, uncharacteristically. Then of course the studio upped their demand, not once but three times. So Olatunji walked away and, yes, did what any self respecting artist would do, he re-recorded the whole album independently and it was issued on CD as "Healing Rhythms, Songs, and Chants" which is also now virtually unavailable. -Anyway, to get to the music on the orginal sessions, it is one of the most pure examples of Olatunji's cultural vision ever recorded, a small ensemble imparting deeply moody meditational music in a highly pure, traditional mode. For the tens of thousands of Olatunji's former students from over 50 years of his workshops this recording will transport you back to the first time you sat down with the master drummer himself to learn traditional songs he taught using his 'gun-go-do-pa-ta' teaching method. For those unfamiliar with Olatunji or those who know him from the early Columbia Records label vinyls from the 1959 groundbreaking 'Drums of Passion' through his jazz augmented work of the 1960's (all compiled in an excellent box set by the German mail order house Bear Records and now out of print) and his later recordings produced by Mickey Hart during the 1980's on the Rykodisc label, 'Healing Sessions' will show you the core starting point for those highly orchestrated more well known high-energy recordings. The core of this music is the djembe drum and an assortment of larger ngoma and ashiko drums -the instruments Olatunji grew up with in his native village of Ajido in Nigeria, and the instruments he was apprenticed on which he recounts in his startling autobiography 'The Beat of My Drum' which was published by Temple University Press shortly after his passing. With a small ensemble of vocalists the singing and chanting on 'Healing Sessions' is subtle but very muscular, delicate but at the same time deeply moving. Olatunji's own high volumed chanting will remind anyone who ever heard him open a live show of how they were transfixed and exhilarated by his incredibly soulful vocals. This recording is a timeless example of the power of music to attain an amazingly spiritual presence, convey a human spirituality and leave you feeling grounded and assured that, in Olatunji's own words, "There is a cultural basis for our unity as people here on Earth." One of the real tragedies of Olatunji's career as far as the music biz goes is that he had so very much to offer like to 'Healing Sessions' but the fundamental character of commercial manners in the business were so incompatible with Olatunji's creative objectives. He grew to have a deep, abiding mistrust of the recording business and some of his most rewarding creativity left this world along with his own physical presence. This recording has an unequalled and unparalleled generosity of spirit. May the people at the label who reissued it come to find some humility in their profit."