If you’ve never heard of Dana Hawkins before, don’t worry, he’s just another one of those prodigal musicians who is making waves without gaining the attention you would expect from someone of his caliber. Coming out the tradition of Gospel drumming and coming through the Berklee School of Music, its safe to say that his chops place him at the highest level of virtuosity. However, he’s mature; his playing is tasteful and his extreme levels of speed and dynamics come into play only when they serve the music. Serving both the funk and jazz idioms he displays mature and intellectual concepts in a way that is completely accessible to the average listener. Starting to gain popularity and attention at Berklee I originally found one of his college videos of a jam session where he displays some incredible, though overzealous, drum shredding. However, the whole aesthetic involving such high level playing at a Berklee afterhours jam will attract most musicians who witness it. Several years later and we see Dana Hawkins performing with a wide range of notable artists including Jeremy Pelt and Meshell Ndegeocello. His current playing is polished, creative, and mature.
The first video is from the Berklee Jam session.
These next two videos are recent, showing a good contrast from where he was to where he is now.