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Percussionist Ndugu Reflects On A Career In Drumming On Numerous Classics
Percussionist Ndugu Reflects On A Career In Drumming On Numerous Classics


From one drummer to another, this interview between musicians sheds light upon a remarkable career in percussion, composing and songwriting which has resulted in some of the funkiest songs known to music. Leon Ndugu Chancler speaks with drummer JR Robinson about his beginnings on the drums and how the cultural influence of his hometown affected his music plus some great stories behind the many legendary groups and artists he's worked with that went on to create all-time Jazz Fusion, Disco, Funk, Brazilian and Boogie classics.


"Ndugu" was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and moved to Los Angeles when he was eight. He began playing drums at age 12 and studied music throughout junior high and high school. While in high school, Chancler played with Willie Bobo, Gerald Wilson and the Harold Johnson Sextet. Chancler graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in music education. Chancler began playing with Hugh Masekela, and also worked with Herbie Hancock, Eddie Harris, and Thelonious Monk. He had brief stints with Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard, then joined up with the great George Duke. He also performed with Julian Priester, Weather Report and toured with Santana in the mid-'70s, and then formed the band Chocolate Jam Co.

Studio work includes Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean". Stanley Clarke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Donna Summer, Patrice Rushen, Hubert Laws, The Crusaders, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Richie, George Benson, The Temptations, Tina Turner, Kenny Rogers, Herbie Hancock and John Lee Hooker.

Ndugu has also played on a number of Movie Soundtracks including , “An Officer and a Gentleman”, “Indecent Proposal” and “The Color Purple”.

As a songwriter Ndugu co- wrote hits for Santana including “Dance Sister Dance”, George Duke’s “Reach For It”, and “Let It Whip” for the Dazz Band. His production credits include Flora Purim, Bill Summers, Toki, Ndugu and the Chocolate Jam Co. Ndugu has co-produced for Santana, George Duke, The Crusaders, Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Tina Turner and a group he co-leads with Patrice Rushen and Ernie Watts called “The Meeting”.

Ndugu Chancler is Faculty at The University Of Southern California in the Jazz Studies and Popular Music Departments.

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