Performance Enhancing Drums

Rudesh Mahanthappa performs with his band at a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 1, 2012. (Emily Bogle/NPR)
Rudesh Mahanthappa performs with his band at a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 1, 2012. (Emily Bogle/NPR)

OK, so there's no such thing as performance enhancing drums, as far as I know. But this song is called "Enhanced Performance," and drummer Rudy Royston makes everything better, so it kind of works, no?

This is from the same shoot that resulted in the Rudresh Mahanthappa Tiny Desk Concert you can now see elsewhere at NPR Music. We cut this tune for time, but we liked it, so here it is.

Mahanthappa, of course, is a tornado of a saxophonist and a jazz composer who has never limited himself by that descriptor. When we brought his band into the offices, he was touring his latest record, Samdhi, which marries his study of Indian classical music with a funky, proggy, plugged-in band.

"Enhanced Performance" fits well into his touring repertoire, even though it was penned a decade or so before Samdhi was a germ of an idea. "This was actually written during the Atlanta Summer Olympics," Mahanthappa said between songs, "when a lot of athletes were getting disqualified for steroid use. So this is actually dedicated to them."

I guess you could say it's a pretty "dope" song? (Don't hurt me.)

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Video

"Enhanced Performance," by the Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartet.

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