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Kassa Overall

Drummer, producer, rapper, and vocalist Kassa Overall is an in-demand sideman and solo performer whose wide-ranging talents have found him playing in variety of scenarios, from edgy post-bop jazz and avant-garde settings to hip-hop and indie rock projects. While percussion is his main focus, Overall has a passion for electronic-based production and incorporates laptops and samplers in his music. Following his emergence as a sideman in New York during the 2010s, Overall distinguished himself as a solo artist, issuing mixtapes and his 2019 debut, Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz. He followed with I Think I'm Good in 2020. The privately issued Shades of Flu: Healthy Remixes for an Ill Moment appeared in 2021. After the pandemic and two years of touring and session work, Overall signed to Warp and issued his third album Animals in 2023. Born in 1980 in Seattle, Washington, Overall grew up playing music alongside his brother, saxophonist Carlos Overall, and listening to a mix of jazz, world music, and hip-hop. He also studied early on with noted Seattle drummer Larry Jones, and by his teens was already playing gigs. Following high school, he further honed his skills while earning his undergraduate degree in music from Oberlin, during which time he gained valuable mentorship from such luminaries as Billy Hart, Michael Rosen, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, and others. After graduating, he relocated to New York City and found work performing with a formidable list of artists, including Christian McBride, Donald Byrd, Vijay Iyer, Francis & the Lights, Mayer Hawthorne, Wallace Roney, Ravi Coltrane, Gary Bartz, Iron Solomon, Gordon Voidwell, and many more. He also spent several years as a key member of pianist Geri Allen's Timeline band and works regularly with trumpeter Theo Croker's ensemble. As a rapper and producer, Overall has collaborated with Brooklyn-based hip-hop outfit Das Racist, is a member of the duo Kool & Kass with former Das Racist member Kool A.D., and DJs with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert's house band, Jon Batiste & Stay Human. As a solo performer, Overall has released a handful of well-regarded mixtapes and singles, including 2014's "Cauliflower," 2016's "Naked Light," and 2017's "Cussing at the Strip." In 2019, Overall released his full-length debut, Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz, which featured guest appearances by Arto Lindsay, Julia Chen, Theo Croker, and others. His sophomore album, I Think I'm Good, arrived in early 2020 and also featured a number of guest performers, including Sullivan Fortner, Aaron Parks, and Vijay Iyer. Following the pandemic, Overall assisted Brazilian singer/songwriter Marisa Monte on her best-selling 2021 album Portas, playing on the title cut and "Calma." That year he also guested on trumpeter Theo Croker's seminal Blk2life || A Future Past. Overall closed the year by releasing the mixtape Shades of Flu: Healthy Remixes for an Ill Moment on his Flu Note label. He created it while quarantined during the pandemic. The following year, he joined Croker and saxophonist Gary Bartz on the hard-driving, one-off single "Jazz Is Dead." Overall signed to Warp in late 2022, but his first work in 2023 was a remix of Cecile McLorin Salvant's cover of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights." In March, he released two singles: "Ready to Ball" and "Make My Way Back Home," the latter with Croker and Nick Hakim as featured guests. Both singles wed rap, modal, post-bop and modern jazz, funk, and electronics. In April, "The Lava Is Calm" -- again with Croker -- appeared. In May, he released his album Animals on Warp. The album's title is a loaded metaphor for the paradoxes of being both a Black man and an entertainer in America. The star-studded guest list included Danny Brown, Lil B, and Ish of Shabazz Palaces, Hakim and Laura Mvula, as well as instrumentalists Croker and Iyer.
© Matt Collar /TiVo


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