Larry McDonald


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Jamaican drummer/percussionist Larry McDonald has been backing other artists since the '60s, but Drumquestra is his first album as a leader, and this 2009 release is faithful to his history in that it is reggae-friendly but not reggae-exclusive. Looking at McDonald's résumé, one finds a lot of major reggae and ska credits (including Bob Marley, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Peter Tosh, the Skatalites, and Bunny Wailer) but also sees that he has embraced soul (Gil Scott-Heron), punk (the Bad Brains), and even alternative metal (Soulfly). Drumquestra doesn't contain anything that it is overtly rock-minded, but it does reflect McDonald's diversity and isn't strictly a reggae album. Although the disc features some well-known guests from the reggae world (including Mutabaruka and Toots Hibbert) and has its share of reggae, Drumquestra also acknowledges hip-hop ("Brother Man"), jazz ("Got Jazz?"), African music ("Mento in 3"), and house music ("Set the Children Free"). But if there is a thread that ties all of the material together, it is the prominence of McDonald's drumming. McDonald doesn't allow himself to become a sideman on his own album; instead, he makes sure that his drumming is prominently displayed throughout the 64-minute CD. So whether he is embracing reggae or something else, McDonald always sounds like the one in the driver's seat. Although Drumquestra is mildly uneven, the tunes are generally decent, and this project serves as a likable reminder of the fact that even though reggae has been a high priority for McDonald, it isn't the only style of music that interests him.

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