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Ralph MacDonald: Sound of a Drum

Album Notes

New York session great and longtime Harry Belafonte percussionist Ralph MacDonald made his solo debut with Sound of a Drum, successfully fusing the strong Latin flavor of his previous work with the funk and disco sounds dominating clubs in bicentennial America. The title is no misnomer -- each song is a showcase for MacDonald's blistering percussion talents, but he never loses the humility and instincts of a sideman, allowing an expert cast including Grover Washington, Jr., Bob James, and Toots Thielemans their own turns in the spotlight as well. The eight-minute "Calypso Breakdown" is by far the best-known cut here, thanks to its inclusion on the mega-selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack -- it remains a monster groove that's dated much better than many disco-era instrumentals, thanks in large part to William Eaton's clever, jazz-inspired arrangement and Eric Gale's ferocious guitar solo. ~ Jason Ankeny


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