Bill Summers: A Percussionist in His Own Words Bill Summers has traced the rhythmic links of African, Caribbean and American music for many years. He draws on years spent with Herbie Hancock and his own group to discuss rhythms and beats.

Bill Summers: A Percussionist in His Own Words

Bill Summers: A Percussionist in His Own Words

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Percussionist Bill Summers has spent more than 30 years tracing the rhythmic links between Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas. In the 1970s, Summers was experimenting with ancient flutes when Herbie Hancock hired him for his legendary fusion group, the Headhunters.

Bill Summers on percussion at a recent Los Hombres Calientes show. Basin Street Records hide caption

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Basin Street Records

Later, Summers teamed up with Quincy Jones to create the score for Roots. As part of our series Musicians in Their Own Words, Summers describes how traditional rhythms can feel timeless, even when they come through an old TV set.

Summers has been very busy in recent years. He and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield are the leaders of Los Hombres Calientes, a group formed in 1998 along with drummer Jason Marsalis. Their new CD, Carnival, explores the group's idea that New Orleans is the northernmost port of the Caribbean.

Features in the series are produced by David Schulman and NPR's Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr.