Barbara Borden

For anyone who has ever drifted off during a bombastic rock-concert drum solo, Barbara Borden offers the perfect counterpunch, with eight solely drums-and-percussion tracks that not only command and reward focused attention but also reclaim the essential connections to both the earthly elements and the heavenly aspirations that drumming affords humankind. That the drum’s “musical” potential extends far beyond pragmatic time-keeping has long been evident to aficionados of world or ethnic percussion as well as to any jazz fan who has heard Max Roach or Jack DeJohnette wax melodic on a trap set.

Borden explores these qualities and takes them to their most beautiful extremes by overlaying and shaping multiple tracks on which shekere, windchimes, tambourine, and timbales, even sea-urchin spines and sheep toenails. From piece to piece the results could hardly be more varied, evoking Amazonian rainforests, African dances, Balinese gamelans, and more. And whether capturing the feel of a tribal celebration, a healing ritual, or a mindful walk in the woods, Borden always makes her instruments fulfill the seemingly simple task that lies at the heart of all meaningful music: to sing the song and tell a story.

Best known to many as the drummer with the popular 1980’s women’s jazz band Alive!, Borden has taken another giant step in establishing herself as one of northern California’s most inventive solo percussionists. Beauty In The Beat sidesteps world-music and New Age categories by shimmying and shimmering too a universal pulse seated deep in the soul. —Derk Richardson