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Time is a joint effort: Eric Harland keeps the beat on The Third Story

Eric Harland
Jonathan Chimene
/
WBGO
Drummer Eric Harland performing at the 2019 Newport Jazz Festival.

Eric Harland thinks about time. He thinks about taking time, he thinks about giving time, and he thinks about sharing time.

He’ll tell you: “Time is a joint effort. It’s everybody at once. You want to talk about synergy, alliance, brotherhood and sisterhood? Just watch people getting together and having to play time. So much shows up in that. There’s so much judgment, so much blame. But then you get to these points of surrender and ecstasy. Something wonderful happens because you went on this journey together. It’s so revealing and it’s so fulfilling.”

Eric Harland is one of the most in-demand jazz drummers of his generation. He has played with everybody. Betty Carter, McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Terrence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Esperanza Spalding, Taylor Eigsti, Julian Lage, Robert Glasper, Joshua Redman, Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Charles Lloyd, John Mayer, and on and on and on. He has appeared on over 400 recordings, and continues to appear at the top of critics’ and readers’ polls. Plus he once played a solo so intense that it sent my wife to the hospital.

Here he shares his incredible story of growing up in Houston and how he came to weigh 400lbs by the time he was 16 (he eventually lost the weight in college), attending the Manhattan School of Music, becoming an ordained minister, living with singer Betty Carter (“not like that”), learning from legendary mentors, and exploring “time.”

He also shares his thoughts on practice, community, natural wine, and what you can learn about a person by how they drive.

Leo Sidran is a Latin Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, composer and creative coach. Since 2014 he has hosted an influential podcast called The Third Story, featuring interviews with musicians, producers, songwriters and creators of all kinds.