Waxing Lyrical with Bill Summers, The Headhunters

We had the immense pleasure of sitting down with master percussionist and founding Headhunter Bill Summers last month, for our new online series Waxing Lyrical. A man whose career has lasted more than forty years, Summers isn’t short of a story or two and was able to tell us plenty in relation to the five LPs we presented him with. Discussing albums from Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters LP to Eddie Palmieri’s Sentido, Bill told us about his journey to L.A., where he first met and played with Herbie as well as his work with Orrin Keepnews, who gave him his first record contract.

He was here to perform with The Headhunters, who featured guest drummer Harvey Mason standing in for Mike Clark. Mason had played on the Herbie Hancock album Headhunters, which was the first outing of the band before their solo debut Survival of the Fittest, then featuring Clark behind the kit. Check out their performance of Watermelon Man, featuring Summers’ famous beer bottle melody, an emulation of a Pygmy singing tradition, below.