To say that Bill Summers is a percussionist is like saying a Steinway is a piano: the noun conveys none of the history and quality of the owner of the title. Summers is a musician of the highest order, playing anything from traditional African instruments to pop bottles, and a cultural visionary who brings diverse people and ideas together. Whether working with Quincy Jones on the musical score for Roots, or the soundtrack to The Color Purple, or interpreting the music of the holiday Kwanza, Summers is cognizant of his heritage and its many contributions to world culture. Witness how Summers brought together Kim Provost and Bill Solley, winners of the 1999 BET Jazz Discovery Competition. The duo made their acquaintance at one of Summers' late-night sessions and, recognizing their alchemy, Summers asked them to join his Summer's Heat tour.
Late-night sessions at the Summers residence resulted in the 1998 formation of Los Hombres Calientes, an overnight sensation in New Orleans and then the world. Los Hombres Calientes tore the roof off Snug Harbor, the House of Blues, and ignited the stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with its searing dance music, and have produced four CDs.
The success of multi-award-winning Los Hombres Calientes owes much to the knowledge of the seasoned Summers, R&B star (with "Call It What You Want" in 1981), veteran of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, who knows literally hundreds of African, Cuban & Latin percussion rhythms from decades of study.
Bill steers the helm of the Summers Multi-Ethnic Institute of the Arts, which takes students to Cuba to study Afro-Cuban music. In 1999, Bill Summers and several of his students were initiated into the prestigious Yoruba order of sacred drummers by Estaban "Cha Chaa" Vega, the most revered drummer in Cuba.
This wealth of knowledge can be heard in Summers' inspired playing on
the Volumes 1, 2, and 3 CD releases of Los Hombres Calientes, as well
as musical ventures with other groups that cross musical boundaries.
Summers appears to know where he is going, perhaps because he knows where he has been.
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