Mickey Hart & Zakir Hussain

Apart from being an original/longtime Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart was exploring multicultural cross-pollinations long before the term world music got so popular. Tabla drum master Zakir Hussain, a frequent collaborator with Hart, has a lengthy résumé in jazz, Indian raga, and world fusion. With fellow percussionists Sikiru Adepoju and Giovanni Hidalgo, Hart & Hussain comprise the Global Drum Project, a far more interesting session than its somewhat generic title would imply. These lads respectfully draw upon a variety of traditions — Indian, African, Afro-Latin, and Southeast Asian — and filter them through a modern, nonpurist frame of reference, including the judicious use of sampling and digital electronics. Though some might expect a virtually all-percussion-laced album to be a full-on drum orgy, Global Drum Project is marked by astounding restraint — without any self-indulgent abstraction, these gents play with the subtlety of impressionist painters. The dizzying, exhilarating "Dances With Wood" sounds like drum 'n' bass/jungle electronica, except it's done acoustically, via human flesh impacting assorted surfaces. Despite its title and its deep, hypnotic groove, "Funky Zena" is engrossingly meditative... leading into the dub-like, percolating "Under One Groove," recalling the kaleidoscopic rhythmscapes of Bill Laswell and Robert Rich. If you like your percussion worlds colliding on wax, Global Drum Project is 42 minutes of chilled bliss.

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