John Hadfield, percussion

As a percussionist, drummer, and composer, John Hadfield’s dedication to music has taken him from his native Missouri to concert halls and clubs across the world. He currently leads two ensembles, John Hadfield Quartet and the Saints of Percussion, a percussion-based composer collective dedicated to improvising music. John’s ability to cross genres has allowed him to appear with a broad range of ensembles and artists, including: Yo-Yo Ma, Kinan Azmeh’s City Band, Petros Klampanis’ Contextual, Nguyen Le’s STREAMS Quartet, The Saturday Night Live Band on NBC, Deep Purple, and The Silk Road Ensemble. He has collaborated on more than 90 recordings as a guest artist, including the GRAMMY award winner Yo-Yo Ma and Friends, Songs of Joy and Peace.

John has also released two albums of his own compositions: The Eye of Gordon and Displaced. In his review of Displaced, Downtown Music Gallery founder Bruce Lee Gallanter declared, “[w]hat makes this special is that Mr. Hadfield knows how to use percussion in a more organic way that rarely deals with any sort of (logical or overused) beats, yet the music remains consistently fascinating throughout.”

In addition to these albums, John’s compositions have been featured in films, including a documentary selected for the Tribeca film festival, chamber music concerts, jazz clubs, and creative music venues. John has long had a love for dance, composing music for the choreographer and modern dancer Kathryn Alter and writing the score for Preeti Vasudevan’s productions The Absent Lover and Savitri, inspired by the Mahabharata.

In his compositional work, John integrates improvisation and structure, while combining a variety of musical styles, including jazz, classical Western music, Carnatic music, and electronic music. His compositions typically involve a wide range of percussion sounds—from the traditional jazz drum set to the classical Indian kanjira, the African kalimba, as well as random objects such as bicycle wheels, pieces of metal, or ventilation tubes. He has also explored the sonic and kinetic possibilities resulting from the combination of multiple instruments and electronics (such as the software Ableton Live).

John’s work has received significant critical acclaim. Time Out New York has noted, “John Hadfield’s percussion is so impeccable” and Modern Drummer featured him in a 2016 article, stating, “Hadfield delivers a fluid groove, strong yet never intrusive, punctuated by adroitly chosen accents. His skillful sound-weaving choices create the illusion of a seamless multi-percussion section.”
John currently serves on the Jazz faculty of New York University, where he teaches drum set and the World Percussion Ensemble. Many of his former students have gone on to become successful percussionists, drummers, educators, and composers. While performing and recording John Hadfield has played alongside many inspiring and creative musicians including Lenny Pickett, Kenny Werner, Billy Drewes, Nguyen Le, Adam Rudolph, Ghalia Benali, Greg Osby, Gil Goldstein, Bobby Watson, Gilad Hekselman, Jean-Michel Pilc, Satoshi Takeshi, Bridget Kibbey, Kristin Le, Brad Shepik, Mark Helias, Chris Jennings, François Rabbath, and Erik Friedlander.

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