Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
akLaff (sic), Pheeroan (Paul Maddox)
akLaff (sic), Pheeroan [Paul Maddox], drummer, composer; b. Detroit, Michigan 27 January, 1955. He is the second of seven children of Thelma and Joe Maddox. His youngest brother is Timothy and his elder brother Eric is a classical pianist and choir conductor. He has four sisters: Harriet, Winifred, Eartha, and Hilda, who is married with seven children. His early influences were Eric's piano playing, and his parents' jazz and classical records. He played drums in the middle school band, sports in high school. His interest in poetry and in the music of Alice and John Coltrane was encouraged by English teacher Chester Littlejohn.
He studied Speech and Drama - Eastern Michigan University 1972-1974. There he encountered his brother's colleague, Travis Biggs, a young, Motown-educated arranger who tutored and employed him immediately. In 1975 he moved to Connecticut and assembled a Jazz and Reggae band named DeJaVu with Detroit native and mentor Rev. Dwight D. Andrews. In that same year he met Rashied Ali, sat in at Ali's Alley in NYC and performed regularly with Wadada Leo Smith, Oliver Lake and Anthony Davis.
His spiritual work (not religious as sometimes reported) with mentors Toni Nathaniel Harp, Akua Audrey Ficklin and her spouse Ad Theotis Holland, prompted his name change to Pheeroan akLaff while residing in New Haven CT. from 1975 to 1978.
He studied drums privately with Billy Hart, Rashied Ali in New York, N.Y., 1975-1981. He studied urban popular music, Folk drum and dance, Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire (where he worked with the Marie Rose Guiraud Dance Company), and Lagos Nigeria in 1981.
He moved to New York in 1978 and was married to Deirdre B. Rose from 1983 to 1985 (they had no children). In 1988 he married Luz Marina Bueno. They have raised their one child Kamillah in Brooklyn, where they presently reside.
He has led groups at festivals, concerts and clubs throughout North America, as well at such major overseas events as the Sju Festival in the Netherlands, the Willisau Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Moers Festival, the Nurnberg East-West Festival, in Germany, and the Montsalvat Festival in Australia. He has performed in Togo, Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia, Swaziland and Malawi in 1982 with Oliver Lake's Jump Up band and in India, Syria, Jordan, Sudan, Egypt and Morocco in 1985 with the Jay Hoggard group, both under U.S. Information Agency sponsorship. He accompanied the Marie Rose Guiraud Dance Company at performances in four Ivorian cities in 1981, and was a member of the Henry Threadgill ensemble featured at India's Jazz Yatra festival in 1984. Since 1989 he has performed annually in Japan and in New York with the Yosuke Yamashita New York Trio with Cecil McBee. This group has featured guest artists of various disciplines.
His theatrical work includes his own Frederick Douglass Chronicles, a work-in-progress, presented at the Carver Cultural Center in San Antonio in mid-1996. He has performed with poet Amiri Baraka in the Blue Ark ensemble and with bass vocalist Kevin Maynor. He played in the premiere performance of Anthony Davis's opera "The Life and Times of Malcolm X" at New York City Opera. He worked with the playwright Oyamo (Charles Gordon) in 1980 and 1981 at the Manhattan Theater Company and the Yale Repertory Theater performing "The Resurrection of Lady Lester." He worked with authors Thulani Davis, Jessica Hagedorn and Ntozake Shange and director Reggie Life in "Where The Mississippi Meets the Amazon" at the New York Shakespeare Festival 1976 and 1977 and "Mango Tango" in 1978. He has also worked with dance companies and visual artists.
As an educator, he took part in History of Jazz courses offered by Brooklyn's Youth Development Council during the 1980s. He taught master classes at the New School's jazz program in 1991-92. Since 1993, he has taught students of drumming and African-American music at Wesleyan University. Since 2001 he has directed the Park Art program for Real Art Ways.org in Hartford, Connecticut.
New York Foundation for the Arts award for music composition, 2000.
Participated in many grant funded projects, such as:
Collaborations with Rob Fisher (sculptor), Dr. Julian Thayer (psycho-physiologist) and Scott Robinson (musician); S.C.I. Carnegie Mellon University 1996, University of Pennsylvania, Central Pennsylvania Arts Festival in Bellefonte; Pennsylvania Arts Council 1993, 1992, 1991.
Mickey Davidson Dance Company; Henry Street Theater/Carnegie Foundation 1996, New York City Schools 1996 -1999
House of Spirit: Mirth (1980); Fits Like a Glove (1983); Sonogram (1988); Hanshin Lament (1992); Global Mantras (1997); Drum Color (1998); Hang Pinochet (1998); Brooklyn Waters (1999); Akamidas (2003); Samoa New York [film score] (2003);
Anthony Davis: The Life and Times of Malcolm X (Opera), Episteme; Hemispheres: Of Blues and Dreams, The Enemy of Light, Hidden Voices; Baikida Carroll: Door Of The Cage, Marionettes, Shadows and Reflections; Oliver Lake: Cloth, Live at Willisau, Virtual Reality, Again and Again, The Prophet, Gallery, Clevont Fitzhubert, Impala, Expandable Language, Shine, Life Dance of Is, Holding Together; Oliver Lake's Jump Up Band - Plug It, Jump Up; Yosuke Yamashita: Pacific Crossings, Field Of Grooves, Wind of the Age, Canvas In Vigor, Spider, Ways of Time, Dazzling Days, Kurdish Dance, Sakura Live, Sakura, Plays Gershwin, Crescendo; Henry Threadgill: Makin' a Move, Slippin' Into Another World, Subject to Change, You Know the Number, Just the Facts, When Was That; Mal Waldron: My Dear Family; Geri Allen: Maroons; Don Byron: Bug Music, Tuskegee Experiments; Tom Pierson: The Hidden Goddess, Left Right, Planet of Tears; Jerome Harris: Algorithms; Anthony Braxton: Revolutionary Quill (2002), Charlie Parker Project, Live Piano Quartet; Sonny Sharrock: "Live" New York, Seize The Rainbow; Carlos Ward: Faces, Live At The Bug; James Newton: Romance and Revolution, African Flower; Fred Simmons: Going Forth; Marty Ehrlich: The Long View, The Welcome; Craig Harris: Shelter; New Air: Live at Montreal, Air Show; Jay Hoggard: The Right Place, Somethin' Bout Believin', Love Is The Answer, Riverside Dance, Love Survives; Rob Reddy: Songs You Can Trust, Post War Euphoria; Mark Helias - Desert Blue; Amina Cludine Myers: Song for Mother E; Ray Anderson: What Because; David Murray: Karmen Gei [film score], Yonn De, Quartet Live; Leo Smith: Song O Humanity, Spirit Catcher
Subject to Change by Mark Hureux - France 1991
Merry Clayton video "Yes" from Dirty Dancing 1988
Bird Now by Mark Hureux - France 1988
The Steve Rhodes Show - Lagos, Nigeria 1981
Coda Magazine cover article July/August 1997
Signature Magazine (Japan), by Dr. Tekemura interview April 1996
The Sydney Morning Herald, by Peter Jordan interview, January 1996
The Villager, interview New York, N.Y. February 1996
Modern Drummer, Noah Howard interview 12/95
Drums Magazine (Japan), Interview 1991
Marie Claire Japan, CD review 1990,Jazz Podium, Germany 1989
Musician Magazine, by Ted Drozdowski interview June 1989
RYTMI Magazine (Finland) #9-10 interview November1987
Midday Times Bombay, interview January 1984
Ivoire Dimanche Magazine (Ivory Coast) #537 J.S. Bakiono interview June 1981
Ophelia Magazine (Nigeria) Volume 2 Frank Fairfax interview January 1981
R. Riggins: Pheeroan akLaff, in: Coda, #186 (1982)
Chip Stern: Pheeroan akLaff. Groovin' Free, in: Modern Drummer, 8/5 (May 1984)
Bill Milkowski: Update. Pheeroan akLaff, in: Modern Drummer, 15/8 (Aug.1991)
Ken Vos: Pheeroan AkLaff. De zwarte traditioe als gekleurd slagwerk, in: Jazz Nu, #171 (Apr.1993)
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