Pheeroan akLaff
917 561 5298


American drum-set doyen, and teaching artist Pheeroan akLaff reflects music centered in powerful ritual and imagination. He has performed at international festivals, and mulit-disciplined art venues for more than thirty years. He is an avid workshop leader and contributor to a milieu of mid-1970's Avant Garde pioneers. Numerous recordings display his work bolstering a wide range of music composers.

Born Paul Maddox in 1955, he studied privately with Randall Hicks, "Pistol" Allen, and Travis Biggs in Detroit. In 1975 he relocated to New Haven Connecticut, and started a band with Dwight Andrews. After meeting Rashied Ali, drummer of John Coltrane's later works, he was inspired to perform professionally in New York. He espoused the name Pheeroan akLaff and was first heard in the ensembles of composer Leo Smith. He was further allied with Oliver Lake, Anthony Davis, Henry Threadgill, Sonny Sharrock, Andrew Hill, Cecil Taylor, Yamashita Yosuke, Amiri Baraka, Liu Sola, Tom Pierson, Anthony Braxton, and the broadly sympathetic akLaff Robinson, Thayer trio, exploring neural network ethos in music and art.

In 1981 he lived and worked in Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire and Lagos, Nigeria, steeping his approach to music with African diaspora content.

He presented music ensembles at the Willisau festival of Switzerland, the Sju festival of the Netherlands, the Montsalvat festival of Australia, the Moers, and the Nurnberg festivals of Germany. He led the Double Duo ensemble comprised of two saxophonists; Mixashawn and Ravi Coltrane, and with two drummers; akLaff and his mentor Rashied Ali.

He is a co-founder the non-profit arts organization Seed Artists, facilitating multi-generational music, symposium, mentorship, and creativity.

Pheeroan teaches creative music and American Drum-set to university students at Wesleyan University, CT. and New School University NYC. He is a curator at Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning in Queens, NY.

Known primarily as a versatile drummer, and mostly associated with the avant-garde, he features his music in recordings as a leader on; Fits Like A Glove, 1983,  Sonogram, 1989, and Global Mantras, 1997.  His solo drumming albums, House Of Spirit;Mirth,1981, and Drums et Variations 2010 feature his compositional approach to percussion. Pheeroan is a co-founder the Seed Artists non-profit organization for the promotion of arts and international awareness.

Teaching Experience
Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
Private Lessons, 1993- present

Materials and Principle of Improvisation 1   2014 - 2017
Jazz Ensemble Tutorial, 2007-2008
Jazz Ensemble Director, 2006-2007
Latin Ensemble Director, 1996-1997

New School University, New York City
Tutorial Director, 1991- 1993
Private Lessons, 1991- 1993

International Teaching
Rhythm section workshops; Rock,Jazz, Latin,
Private lessons drums;
Nagoya, Tokyo, Kyoto,  Japan , Saalfelden, Austriia, Warsaw Poland 2008 - present

Artistic Appointments and Mentoring
Artist in Residence Par Do To, Warsaw Poland February 2013
Artist in Residence, Tufts University, April 2010
Teaching Artist, Grady High School Caribbean Ensemble, Brooklyn, NY, 2008
Chorus Director, Little Red Elisabeth Irwin High School, New York City, 2004 – 2006
Rhythm Adaption Workshop, Harvard University History of Jazz Class, 2003
Summer Arts Program Director, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT, 2003, 2002
Artist in Residence, Carver Cultural Center, San Antonio, TX.
with Production of Frederick Douglass Chronicles -1996
Music Therapist, Graham Windham Agency, Harlem, New York, 1986 - 1988

Lecture, August 2010, on "Jazz and Spirituality", Studium Zentrum press, Austria

University Study
Eastern Michigan University  1972 - 1974
Private Study 
Travis Biggs, Richard (Pistol) AllenRandall Hicks 1969 - 1972,

Professional Affiliations and Activities
Assistant Curator - Kampo Bahal Gallery NYC/ Kyoto , 2007 – 2009
Co-Founder: Seed Artists Inc., Non Profit for Artists and Communities, 2006
Member -La Compagnia de Colombari 2007- present

New York Foundation for the Arts Music Composition Award – 2000

A View from the Throne; a travel journal of Jazz in Japan –  2014
Rhythm and Stasis; a drum-set method manual for musicians – 2014

Ensemble Leader Recordings
Live in Japan Volume One 2012 Modern Masters
Global Mantras, 1997 - Modern Masters,
Sonogram –1989  - Mu, 
Fits Like A Glove –1983 - Gramavision 
Solo Recordings
Drumßet Variations / 2010,  Modern Masters
Drum- set Variations - a primer of drum-set patterns  -  2002
Duo Recordings
Brooklyn Waters, 1999, with Michael Cain 
Revolutionary Quill, 2003, with Anthony Braxton
House of Spirit; Mirth –1981 -  Passin’ Thru; Re-released in 2011 by Souljazz

Music in Film 
Hewitt Collection of African American Art  Charles Martin, 2008
Hats by Bunn, a documentary by Charles Martin, 2007
Ed Clark: A Brush With Success by Charles Martin 2006
Sweet Samoa by Tomas Casas 2003

Print Articles on Pheeroan akLaff
Musicworks article by Stuart Broomer Winter 2013
Slagwerk Magazine by Hugo Pinksterboer January 2012
Jazz Magazine (Spain) interview with Jorge Lopez Gereñu  Autumn 2010
Hot House Magazine cover article April 2004
Coda Magazine cover article July/August 1997
Signature Magazine Japan, Dr. Tekemura interview April 1996
The Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Jordan interview, January 1996
The Villager, interview New York, N.Y. February 1996
Modern Drummer, Noah Howard interview 12/95,
Drums Magazine Japan, Interview 1991
Marie Claire Japan, CD review 1990,Jazz Podium, Germany 1989
Musician Magazine Ted Drozdowski interview June 1989
RYTMI Magazine Finland #9-10 interview November1987
Modern Drummer, Chip Stern interview May 1984
Midday Times Bombay, India interview January 1984
Coda Magazine Canada#186 interview January 1982
Ivoire Dimanche Magazine Ivory Coast#537 J.S. Bakiono interview June 1981
Ophelia Magazine Nigeria Volume 2 Frank Fairfax interview January 1981

Performance Highlights as Ensemble leader
Japan Tour 2013   Pheeroan akLaff "Dear Freedom Suite" ensemble: Okazaki, Kyoto, Nagoya, Tsu, Mie, Tokyo, Japan
60th year of Augst 6th remembrance Solo Concert Saikoji Temple Nagano, Japan 2005
Double Duo Ensemble – Rashied Ali, Ravi Coltrane, Mixashawn, Columbia University, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000
“W” Can’t Win Pheeroan akLaff -Solo, The Jazz Gallery, 2003
Frederick Douglass Chronicles - original music, concept, and oration of Frederick Douglass publications, Carver Center San Antonio TX. 1996

Performance Highlights as Accompanist
Yosuke Yamashita New York Trio with strings  Japan Tour 2011
Don Byron New Gospel Quintet  - Bridgestone Festival Sao Paolo Brazil May 2010
Cecil Taylor Trio Lincoln Center, NYC 2008
Henry Brant Dormant Craters
Lincoln Center New York, Neely Bruce conductor, 2008
Wesleyan University 1998 Henry Brant conductor
Liu Sola Quartet (Wu Man, Fernando Sanders, Pheeroan akLaff) Beijing, Shanghai, China 2000
Andrew Hill Trio, Alice Tully Hall New York NY, 2000, Queen Elizabeth Hall London U.K., 1999
Andrew Hill Quartet, Benny Maupin, Rufus Reid, Pheeroan akLaff -Sweet Basil New York NY. 1999
Summit Conference Ensemble (Andrew Hill, Sam Rivers, Reggie Workman Pheeroan akLaff) 1997-1999

Interests: Music and Cognition, Criminal Justice Reform.