Erik Kamau Gravatt

Praise for Eric Kamau Grávátt

“Eric Grávátt, a regular on the Philadelphia jazz scene, has grown in leaps and bounds within the last year. He plays with a great deal of feeling, involvement and sympathy. With technique and the mind to carry it on, the young drummer maintains a high level. Grávátt rode through the paces with every mood and every level of intensity. He was an integral part of the three-way musical exchange and ensemble.”

~ Michael Cuscuna

“In Gravatt, Tyner has a spirited percussionist who could swing Guy Lombardo if he were given the task. Usually wearing a T-shirt, he works in furious perpetual motion–playing broken rhythms on his high-hat cymbal, accenting… rolling on his tom-tom drum or spinning off cracking cross rhythms on his snare drum. The other night Gravatt played a fascinating solo in which he set up counter lines for himself. In effect, he was playing against time.”

~Hollie I. West

“Gravatt was outstanding. Like another great young drummer, Tony Williams, Grávátt has the savvy to listen to what the soloist is playing and to accompany him in a manner that will put the fire and drive into the solo improvisation.” … “Grávátt also played only one solo and it was fascinatingly organized. He built the solo like Frank Lloyd Wright would build a house, organically. It's very difficult for someone who doesn't play the drums to understand how a drummer coordinates himself - how he's able to get his legs and his arms going in a different direction.” …“And when you’re really good like Gravatt, it’s sheer magic.”

~Bill Cole

“I played a lot with Eric Gravatt, an incredible drummer who was living in Philadelphia then, who later played with McCoy Tyner and Weather Report, He exposed me to a lot of things I hadn’t heard, and different ways of playing. We did a lot of duet playing, just drums and saxophone. He used to set an alarm clock for an hour, and we’d improvise straight through — killin’!”

~ Michael Brecker, Downbeat magazine interview

Many years later, Zawinul would pay tribute to Gravatt's skills and state that he had been the “finest” of the band's “pure jazz” drummers as well as being “from the jazz side... my favorite of them all.”

~Joe Zawinul

“The Universal tone light”; p. 324" When we came back from Europe we did a few more shows across the States that Bill Graham set up. He asked me who I'd like to have open for Santana on that run, and it took me less than a second to say Weather Report. They agreed to be on the bill, and during every show I'd be backstage listening to them play -- Wayne, Joe, Eric Gravatt on drums, and Miroslav Vitous..." ..."I was loving the music but I got such an uncomfortable feeling when people would scream "Santana" while they were playing. I wanted to go onstage, grab the mic and say, “Hey, shut the fuck up! This is Weather Report - ”. ...“You're embarrassing me”.

~Carlos Santana

“The Weather Report drummer who was the all-around hippest one was Eric Gravatt” Wayne said. “He has some stuff going.” “Eric played with Weather Report on its next record, I Sing the Body Electric, which was actually two records in one: side one was a studio album recorded in December 1971, and side two was a show recorded live in Tokyo in January 1972.”

~ Wayne Shorter; p.110, Modern Drummer | September 2003

“L'un des batteurs les plus singuliers des années 70 revient enfin en musique. Il vient d'enregistrer avec Tony Hymas et Billy Peterson á Minneapolis, oú il travaillait jusqu'alors comme gardien de prison.”

~ Oliver Gasnier, Jazz Magazine; re: Eric Kamau Gravatt

“Eric was the one. Miles wanted him, but he came with us in Weather Report. Eric is teaching now, and he is still explosive when he speaks. He had bounce in his rhythm that would bounce off the floor and carry the music up to the ceiling. He had this ethnic sound - the continent of Africa - but with grace. He has a dignity and the flavor of Africa, and of metropolitan cities, all with the element of surprise.”

~ Footprints: The life and Work of Wayne Shorter | Michele Mercer, 2004

“Terry Bozzio's 6 most influential CDs... ‘Weather Report - I Sing The Body Electric ’... “...High Art! ...and my favourite drummer Eric Gravatt's primitive, explosive style make this album one of my most influential’ ...“There isn't - and maybe there never will be - anyone who plays drums with that much intensity”.

~Drummer The UK's Loudest Drum Magazine, Issue 25 November 2005

“Tokyo at age 21 Eric Kamau Gravatt was McCoy Tyner’s drummer, one of the most coveted jobs a jazz musician could hope to get. After 20 years of working as a prison guard, he’s back behind the kit – again as Tyner’s drummer.” …“Gravatt’s tale is symbolic of many musicians, who aren’t financially rewarded for their outstanding talent. The result: a day job.” … “To support his wife and two children he worked for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, where he was promoted to lieutenant. He retired in 2001.” … “Tyner rehired him as his drummer in 2004. Playing at a concert at Tokyo’s Blue Note in early December, Gravatt showed he hasn’t lost a bit of his drive or technique, delivering an energetic collage of rhythms of jangling cymbals and staccato snares. His mastery of African and Cuban styles forms the perfect compliment to Tyner’s percussive and delightfully unpredictable playing.” … “Gravatt’s sound is part of a vibrant American jazz legacy; footage of his solos with Weather Report and Tyner is available on YouTube.””. by Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press, January 2, 2008

“Eric Kamau Gravatt was in town with the McCoy Tyner Trio with Gerald Cannon for the Tokyo Jazz Festival over the weekend. We thought it wasn’t possible, but Kamau sounds better than ever. Strong music keeps getting stronger. Thank you Kamau.”. ... Monday September 7, 2009