Dream come true for drummers

John Walker's doc watches master musicians teach the next generation

A Drummer

Two master drummers — Nasyr Abdul Al-Khabyyr and Dennis Chamber, who have played for the likes of Carlos Santana and other greats — will be at Hot Docs on Friday for the world premiere of John Walker’s A Drummer’s Dream, a film that is a treat for anyone with a heartbeat.

Al-Khabyyr opens the feature doc by explaining to a room full of students that the original drum beat is the heart itself.

The film — a mind-blowing mix of rock, jazz, Latin, fusion and soul — watches as seven of the world’s best drummers meet at an idyllic lakeside resort to mentor a handful of top students from around the globe. Long riffs and short life lessons are also delivered by Kenwood Dennard, Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernadez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Mike Mangini and Raul Rekow.

‘The whole thing was a dream,’ Walker tells Playback Daily.

Though best known for his award-winning drama A Winter Tan, Walker was a drummer himself in the ’60s — for the band that went on to become Mahogany Rush. He likens making this film to being at the legendary Woodstock concert.

‘Woodstock was a high for me in terms of spiritual and musical experience,’ Walker explains, ‘but on a very profound level, this was equal to that. It went right back to my roots.’

Walker heard about the camp from his nephew, who told him, ‘Nasyr is putting together this camp, and all these companies are trying to get rights.’

As soon as Al-Khabyyr announced plans for the camp, phone calls — from both students and companies seeking musical and film rights — immediately started from as far away as Australia and Japan. ‘Most people thought it was a hoax,’ he recalls.

It was no hoax and, 1.2 million air miles later, drummers and students were in Westport, ON, a small town in the cottage country north of Kingston, to play congas and drum sets.

‘This film is a master class in life,’ says Walker.