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When adapatibility is drummed into the pysche

If Chris Dave had his way, the stage at Glasgow Jazz Festival a week today would be mighty crowded.

The drummer, who has provided the beat behind artists ranging from pop stars Adele and Beyoncé to jazz luminaries Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis and Pat Metheny (and a veritable A-to-Z in between), fronts Drumhedz, a loose cast of players drawn from friends on the American music scene who can, like Dave, shift effortlessly from a funky groove to a pre-electric Miles Davis classic and from Hendrix to hip hop.

There are 40 musicians on Dave's immediate radar and he'd like to bring them all with him. Being a pragmatic sort of guy, however, he's settling this time for a quartet comprising saxophonist Marcus Strickland (who boasts drummers Roy Haynes and Jeff Tain Watts as previous employers), guitarist Isiah Sharkey and Drumhedz's current secret weapon, bass guitarist Nick MacNab, of whom Dave says: "No-one's heard of him but after this tour, everyone will know of him."

The Texas-born Dave got his first break while studying at Howard University in Washington DC. There, the Prince associates and acclaimed producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis heard him and introduced him to the R&B band Mint Condition. This was to be the stepping stone for the graduate of Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts to a situation where the phone started ringing with offers of work from every corner of the music business, leading to Dave being referred to as the most versatile and the most dangerous drummer around.

"I've never thought of music being in different genres or styles," he says of his apparently effortless adaptability. "I've always just played what I felt was appropriate at the time. I think this comes from playing in church, which, apart from playing at my mother's house, was my first gig. In church, you learned pretty quickly how to play behind different singers. Some would sing softly, others might be more boisterous and you'd just have to adapt. That's good training, or it certainly was in my case, for what comes later in life."

Growing up in Houston he'd been exposed to his father's collection of jazz, blues and rhythm 'n' blues records during the week, with his father drawing his attention particularly to jazz greats such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane as they listened intently together. Then at weekends, he'd stay with his mother and have an infusion of gospel music.

"There was music everywhere I turned, really," he says. "All my friends were musicians and we'd be urging each other to check out this and that latest discovery, just trying to hear as much music as we could. So I never really thought about being anything other than a musician. It wasn't a case of seeing someone on TV or whatever and thinking, 'that's what I want to do'. I already knew that's what I wanted to do. Then at a certain stage the phone started ringing and, I'm happy to say, people keep calling me."

Among the musicians who have called him, pianist Robert Glasper, one of the outstanding attractions at last year's Glasgow Jazz Festival, has used Dave's skills most fully, letting him show his awareness of jazz history while at the same time bringing his creativity and innovation on the drum kit to the forefront of new developments in the music. Glasper, says Dave, is a musician after his own heart.

When Dave does the calling, for Drumhedz, he looks for musicians he knows well and "can play from whatever to whatever. I know that's not very helpful as description but a Drumhedz set really can be anything we choose on the night. It's like listening to a live mix tape or going into a record store – when we had record stores – and picking up something you've always liked but never bought or something you just like for the cover and putting it all in your shopping basket.

"We might play Nefertiti from Miles Davis's 1960s quintet or something by Jimi Hendrix, some hip hop or something that's totally new. We're like DJs with instruments."

Chris Dave Drumhedz play the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, on June 28.

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