PHOTO BY HOWARD GOODMAN
Kazi Oliver remains one thing at his core: a drummer. As he compulsively taps his fingers around from the table to his glass and over the dashiki patterns on his chest, he tells the story of when his mother dragged him along, at 7 years old, to an after-school West African drumming program in Trenton, NJ. He saw a snapshot of the rest of his life that day.
In the following decades he would be mentored by some of New York’s finest drummers, and at age 34 he would bring that knowledge to the Hudson Valley by way of Peekskill. Oliver has taught classes at juvenile detention centers, community centers, and schools in the area, and has performed at many of our local venues. He has even traveled to Guinea, both to give lessons and receive inspiration.
At 58, he is the ambassador of West African drumming in the Hudson Valley. Oliver describes himself as the “sit-in king,” traveling from venue to venue and sitting in with all styles of musicians where he makes connections for future gigs. Audiences are always delighted to be a part of his interactive musical style. Oliver divulges his methods by saying, “I just share love with everyone I can.”
“The world is in crisis,” he explains. “Art, music, and love are the only solution. They are a universal form of communication. I want to make it available to everyone. If you don’t have money, just come [anyway].”
For information about Oliver’s show dates and workshops, go to www.kazioliver.com.