Percussionist Aaron Ragsdale: Fayetteville Born, with an International Scope

Sep 19, 2017

Ahead of his recital at the University of Arkansas's Faulkner Performing Arts Center on September 21st, percussionist and Fayetteville native Aaron Ragsdale stopped by KUAF to discuss the diverse history of the percussive medium and his collaborations with fellow music professor and saxophonist Nathan Jorgensen.

"We have similar histories in trying to work from transcriptions and trying to fight our way in with composers to write for us," says Ragsdale, whose album with Jorgenson presents an unusual but effective partnering of saxophone with percussion- specifically that with an African origin. Ragsdale plays the darabukka, an Egyptian goblet-shaped drum, on the composition that lends the album its title.

"It's written in a very conversational style even though there's no words," Ragsdale says of A Miraculous Tale. "The saxophone player gives a little melodic snippet, and you get an improvisational answer from the darabukka, so it's this sort of this folk singing and storytelling, and that's kind of what he's [Halim El-Dahb] going for in this piece."