Sound Observations with Will Calhoun

Thursday, March 24, 2011 12:36
Posted in category Interviews, Past Shows

By David Moye

Will Calhoun is best known as the drummer for the late 80s rock band Living Colour and Ronnie Laws is a funk jazz saxophonist best known for his work with Earth, Wind and Fire.

Like most musicians, both have progressed beyond the music they are best known for, but Calhoun realizes getting the general public to look beyond those two bands on their resume is going to be difficult.

“We’re still in a box,” he admits. “People have amnesia and attach you to whatever made them discover you.”

In Calhoun’s case, it was Living Colour, which, in its time, set the world on fire by being a band of black musicians who were able to play rock, funk and metal with equal facility on hits like “Cult of Personality” and “Glamour Boys.”

Will Calhoun of Living Colour

Will Calhoun of Living Colour

But when Calhoun comes to Anthology on April 1 with the Native Lands Experience with Ronnie Laws, fans should expect something closer to jazz than hard rock – and it’s not new for him.

“I’ve always played jazz,” Calhoun says. “Even with Living Colour, I worked with artists like Wayne Shorter. It’s easier for fans to get behind that now. I’ve played on records and that means people can look your name up and see who you’ve played with.”

Anyone who looks up Calhoun’s name will see a lot of familiar names including Pharoah Sanders, B.B. King, Herb Alpert, Dr. John, Jaco Pastorius, Marcus Miller, Public Enemy, and Ronnie Wood.

Being a guy who lives in the present, Calhoun is most excited about his current gig with Laws. It came about by accident.

“I’ve been a fan of his for many years,” he said. “I met him at a club where he was performing and, later, asked him if he needed a ride. On the way, we talked about music, politics, promoters and I told I’d like to do something with him.

Turns out, so did Laws and the current tour is exciting them both.

“I know Ronnie would like to make it permanent,” he said. “These shows are based on what he brings – melodies – and what I bring: jazz and a world music influence.”

It’s a new project so Calhoun realizes he still has to give people an idea what to expect. But his explanation is not expected at all.

“Don’t expect burgers and blue jeans,” he laughed. “It’s more like police uniforms and hot pants.”