He's a first-call drummer who can be found playing with jazz (Betty Carter, Ray Brown, Mulgrew Miller, Diana Krall), R&B (Erykah Badu, Dwele) and hip-hop (Common, Slum Village, Talib Kweli, The Roots). And this year he was behind the kit for Paul McCartney's Grammy Award-nominated "Kisses on the Bottom" project.
So it would seem like Karriem Riggins has better things to do than work the turntables for a couple of nights in Royal Oak.
But the Bloomfield Hills resident, in his DJ guise as The Funky King of Swing, will take up residence on Dec. 20 and 27 at Goodnight Gracie, and he says DJing is every bit as important as drumming to his career.
"I have a lot of music I listen to, and it's only fair to share it with people who I know have open ears and are receptive to different things," explains Riggins, 37, who graduated from Southfield High School and immediately went to New York to play in Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead. "Listening to music is just a way of learning and being inspired.
"I do get a lot of inspiration from DJing and a lot of ideas from throwing different records in a different sequence. It's a different feeling when you hear music in a club setting, and that affects the way I approach things when I'm playing. It all just really works together."
Riggins also released his own album, the expansive and eclectic "Alone/Together," this year, but the McCartney collaboration -- which included a Grammy Awards ceremony performance and a live DVD -- has certainly broadened his audience and his notoriety.
"I got a lot of love from that, yeah," acknowledges Riggins, who will be touring with Krall and on his own in the new year. "That was a great experience. He's such an inspirational person, such a classic guy, a great person to be around and work with. I was in awe, and to see his work ethic...I mean, he's been around for years, man, and just to see he's still hungry for the next step is pretty inspiring, you know?
"How the music was orchestrated in the studio was really interesting, too. A lot of the stuff was on the fly. He said it was similar to how he made records with the Beatles -- hearing that was a classic moment."
Karriem Riggins hosts a pair of Juke Joint DJ shows at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20 and Dec. 27 at Goodnight Gracie Jazz & Martini Bar, 224 Sherman Drive, Royal Oak. Admission is free. Call 248-584-7400 or visit www.damatos.com.
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