Best Of

Best Drummer


During a recent gig at Gowanus jazz hub iBeam with Hot Cup Chili Pepper 7 (a/k/a freewheeling big band ensemble Mostly Other People Do the Killing + 3), Kevin Shea put on a show that showcased both his monolithically inventive percussive energy and his comedic personality. With laser-eyed focus, the ever-rambunctious Shea held down the swinging post-bop storm swirling in front of him while providing wild and free improv hijinks; during one drum-solo escapade, the percussionist simultaneously balanced a huge wood block on his head while bombarding the audience with copious beats. But while Shea has lent his virtuosity to a mélange of projects—his own dementedly perverse outfit Sexy Thoughts, People (with guitarist Mary Halvorson), freewheeling patriot-rock trio American Liberty League (with 2012’s best composer David Earl Buddin)—it’s the intrepid shtick and maniacally prolific output of avant-freak duo Talibam!, which consists of Shea and keys czar Matt Mottel, that has boggled minds. Over 20 releases, Talibam! have run the gamut of improv noise freakouts and berserk funk and free jazz; most recently, they dove into wacky theatrical antics, acting and soundtracking a play about a horny teenage miscreant hero sent to fictional AtlantASS so he could fight off evil politicians hell-bent on destroying the environment. Now self-described “no school” rappers, Shea and Mottel just ventured into hip-hop with Puff Up the Volume. There really is no genre Shea—with or without Talibam!—can’t conquer.