TIR 47: Bill Summers Calls It What He Wants


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 47 (three segments): Jazz, R&B, funk and Latin percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Bill Summers. Summers first forged his impeccable reputation as a leading-edge player by capturing the fancy of jazz keyboard legend Herbie Hancock who placed Summers as a founding member of his Headhunters lineup that unleashed a string of groundbreaking electronic jazz-funk albums during the 1970s. That included such landmark tracks as “Chameleon,” “Actual Proof” and “Hang-up Your Hang-ups,” that last one from the 1975’s remarkable Manchild.

Future P-Funk guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight was also a member of the Headhunters, which released its own albums and recorded masterful tracks like “God Made Me Funky.” While Summers continued to record with Hancock, including later funk classics like “Ready or Not,” he ventured out to release four albums under his own name. The in 1981 he hit it big as Bill Summers & Summers Heat with the album and slamming title track Call It What You Want. That band wound up releasing four albums and placing 7 songs on the U.S. R&B chart.

At the same time, in the 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Summers added his hand drums expertise to projects by Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, the Bar-Kays, Con Funk Shun, Stanley Clarke, the Pointer Sisters; Bobby Womack; Lenny Williams; and Patrice Rushen. In the late-1990s he established the popular Latin-jazz trio Los Hombres Calientes, and he continues to perform today.

In this interview, the still energetic and talkative Summers takes a cultural and musical excursion chock-full of nuggets on percussion, jazz and funk. His fanciful stories demonstrate that 45 years into an astonishing career, Summers can still bring the heat!

Recorded March 2018