Drummer, composer, artist, poet, dancer, visionary, nature mystic: Ra Kalam Bob Moses's life has been a continuous quest for vision, spirit, compassion, growth, and mastery in a multiplicity of art forms.
A partial list of stellar musicians Moses has worked and/or recorded with both as a leader and a sideman includes: Charles Mingus, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Jim Pepper, Larry Coryell, The Free Spirits, Dave Liebman, Gary Burton, Keith Jarrett, Steve Swallow, Michael Gibbs, Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Paul Bley, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, Jaco Pastorius, Hal Galper, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Steve Kuhn, Sheila Jordan, Bobby McFerrin, Dave Sanborn, Bill Frisell, Eddie Gomez, Don Alias, John Scofield, Terumasa Hino, Dave Holland, Charlie Haden, Hermeto Pascoal, Jovinos Santos Neto, Danilo Perez, David Sanchez, Chucho Valdes, Jimmy Slyde, Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, Stan Strickland, Tiger Okoshi, Nana Vasconcelos, Obo Addy, John Medeski, Vernon Reid, DJ Logic, Badal Roy, Ravikiran, Master Anand, Raqib Hassan, Sam Rivers, Pharoah Sanders, Tisziji Muñoz, and many others.
Moses's first recording as a leader was the 1968 album Love Animal, with Jim Pepper, Larry Coryell, Steve Swallow, and Keith Jarrett. The albums Bittersuite in the Ozone and Love Everlasting, the later recorded with spiritual master and guitar genius Tisziji Muñoz, both received five stars in Down Beat. The album Love Everlasting, recorded September 23, 1987, features Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, John Medeski, and John Lockwood, while the album Drumming Birds, also 1987, features percussion duets with Billy Martin.
What the critics say
–on Bittersuite in the Ozone
"A record so human, so goddamn bloody real, that you fully expect it to climb out of the jacket alone and lay down on the turntable for a ride. It is music that breathes, grunts, cries, sings, and laughs-it makes categories arbitrary and insignificant. Though the players involved are known for their jazz affiliations, the music appeal made here is universal."–John Sinclair, The Detroit Sun
–on When Elephants Dream of Music
"Bob Moses has now emerged as the possessor of one of the grander imaginations in America's true classical music. No orchestral composer of this scope, mellow wit, and freshly distinctive range of colors has come along since Gil Evans."-Nat Hentoff, Modern Recording and Music
–on On Time Stood Still
"Leave it to Moses, a multi-directional shamanistic groovilator, to put all the pieces together. On Time Stood Still, another sprawling production of DeMille-ian scale. He seamlessly blends Monk, funk, tap, hip hop, bebop, big band, blues, Bahia, Tanzania, and the avant garde into one organic package while paying homage to the spirits of Gil Evans, Charles Mingus, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Jaco Pastorius."-Bill Milkowski, Down Beat
"As for the present, with help of my beloved spirtual teacher Bhapuji Tisziji Muñoz the Archangel of Fire Sound, I, Rakalam (the inaudible sound of the invisible sun), have been moving toward a place of no self, no thought, no mind, and no body. As I surrender to the original source, Godfire, nature mind, sound healing, I become far more free of all human, earth time, ethnic, mechanical, karmatic gravities and concerns thereby enabling and enobling me to enter the true Heart Domain of selflessly aware Buddha zero creative infinity. I've never felt lighter, happier, and creatively free as I do now—and this is just the beginning." -Bob Moses, July 2001
Recordings on Mozown, Gramavision, Rykodisc, and Amulet Records.
Photo by Andrew Hurlbut