I Never Aspired to Be a Band Leader:” Jazz Legend Doug Hammond on Musical Leadership and the Power of Rhythm

post thumbnail image

Image credit: Doug Hammond

Hammond returns to Detroit this weekend for a series of rare U.S. performances at Trinosophes in Eastern Market.

Tweet This

Jazz percussionist Doug Hammond is a living legend.

Although born and raised in Tampa, Florida, the drummer is indelibly tied to Detroit through his recordings with the renowned independent jazz label Tribe Records, which released his 1975 masterpiece “Reflections in the Sea of Nurnen.”

Hammond has worked with jazz icons like Charles Mingus, Donald Byrd, and Sonny Rollins, but he wouldn’t call his time with them “collaborations.”

‘Collaboration’ is a new word,” he says. “[It’s a word] that’s attempting to make a new paradigm. When I played with Mingus I was not a collaborator, I was a sideman. I was an employee,” says Hammond. “Collaboration means you have something to say,” he continues.

If I get a musician in my band, I don’t want to know what he thinks, I want to know what he plays.” - Doug Hammond

Hammond returns to Detroit this weekend for a series of rare U.S. performances at Trinosophes in Eastern Market. 

Click the audio player to hear Hammond’s conversation with WDET’s Amanda LeClaire and his live performance with the sanza, an African thumb piano.

Special thanks to WDET’s LaToya Cross for help with this interview.


Amanda LeClaire, Host, CultureShift

Amanda LeClaire is host of CultureShift. She spent a few years in the southwest for Arizona Public Media.

amanda.leclaire@wdet.org Follow @amandalee_lec

Stay connected to Detroit