Ken Hyder

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Scottish percussionist, improviser, and musician of eclectic tastes Ken Hyder began his career of blending jazz with a variety of world and folk musics in the late '60s when he formed his first band,…
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Scottish percussionist, improviser, and musician of eclectic tastes Ken Hyder began his career of blending jazz with a variety of world and folk musics in the late '60s when he formed his first band, the jazz and Celtic group Talisker. Among Hyder's projects are his long-standing collaboration (over two decades) with avant-garde pianist Maggie Nicols, called Hoots and Roots, and an equally long musical relationship with revered improviser Tim Hodgkinson.

Hyder grew up in Southeast Scotland's Dundee, not far from Dudhope Castle, in a family, like much of Dundee, whose financial situation was in stark contrast to that of the castle's inhabitants. Yet his family was quite musical, and Hyder began playing along with his pianist grandmother when he was a boy. He went on to study Celtic music in Scotland and Ireland and, in the late '60s, formed the Celtic and jazz band Talisker, which recorded several albums and toured Europe. Hyder ended up living in London, where he was exposed to a wider variety of music and began collaborating with area musicians including Soft Machine's Elton Dean and the vocalist he would continue to work with for many years to come, Maggie Nicols.

In the decades since, Ken Hyder has traveled all over the world, to learn and perform, resulting in a travel log that includes studying throat singing and shamanic drumming in Tuva (on trips to Siberia with Tim Hodgkinson), performing with Japanese and Tibetan Buddhist monks, Russian diva Valentina Ponomareva (Hyder toured Russia several times during the 1990s), folk musicians such as Dave Brooks (a Scottish piper), uilleann piper Tomas Lynch, and singer/songwriter Frankie Armstrong. Among the avant-garde musicians Hyder has collaborated with are Hodgkinson, Nicols (their project is called the Hoots and Roots Duo), vocalist Phil Minton, and U.S. trumpeter Jim Dvorak (with whom he has the group Bardo State Orchestra, a trio including Brazilian bassist and cellist Marcio Mattos). He also has a regular duo with pianist Vladimir Miller called 2R1. Hyder has taken his polyrhythmic playing all over the world in a variety of creative collaborations and settings.