Robert Hedges has been drumming all of his life. It started with his
first drumset at the age of 4 followed a couple years later by a snare
drum. "I can't imagine what my parents were thinking when they bought
a 6 year old a snare drum."
Throughout grade school he played piano and in fifth grade he had to
make the choice between playing drums and saxophone. Maybe it was
their memories of snare drum solos that made his parent help him
decide to play saxophone. "This is when I really started getting
serious about music. My brother is a 11 years older than I am, but he
never treated me like a little kid. He was a professional jazz
trombonist and a drummer on the side. He really taught me how to
listen to music, to pick out each instrument, and focus on what each
individual musician was doing. This was when fusion jazz was really
big; the fusion guys were all about complicated rhythms and playing really
tight. My record collection was all over the map including some really
corny things like Yakety Sax and the Pink Panther Sound-track to Led
Zeppelin, Rush and Mahavishnu Orchestra."
It was during high school that Robert returned to his first instrument,
the drums. Since then he has played in a number of bands, some smaller than
others, some better than others; the first band was two guys in a
basement playing really loud.
Several years later, as a graduate student, "I took a chance and joined
the Arizona State University African Drum ensemble and it changed my life
life." For four years he studied traditional West African Djembe and Sabar
drumming including two trips to Senegal.