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Babatunde Olatunji: Drums of Passion: Legacy Edition

Music Reviews Babatunde Olatunji
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Babatunde Olatunji: <em>Drums of Passion: Legacy Edition</em>

Unpolluted human spirit preserved in master drummer’s African polyrhythms

There’s something primal and joyous but also chilling about Nigerian master drummer Babatunde Olatunji’s classic 1959 album Drums of Passion.

Perhaps this is why some of our finest musicians held him in such high regard: Bob Dylan name-checked Olatunji in “I Shall Be Free,” John Coltrane was inspired to compose “Tunji” in his honor, and Carlos Santana made Drums of Passion’s “Jin-Go-Lo-Ba” one of his signature tunes.

The album’s visceral, thunderous power opens a portal connecting us to a rich, human past from which we are now almost completely removed. For thousands of years, life on this planet was virtually the same—simple, unchanging. Now in the Information Age, Drums of Passion is an important reminder of who we really are—of that primordial rhythm that’s still deep within us, pulsing with each heartbeat.