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………..the listener probably does not notice he or she are getting carried away by the exuberance of the music and its creators…if you listen closely, you can really hear the interactions and connection of the rhythm section…time always moves on and we change. what has not changed – if anything it’s stronger – is blood drum spirit and royal hartigan‘s dedication to, love for, and continual exploration of world music and how it is so much a part of jazz…… 
…’ll hear how the band uses dynamics to build and maintain its message. bindman rides the waves of energy produced by brown, hartigan, and hirahara….. 
…..the talking drum is in constant conversation with the bass and the soloists…hartigan sets up a hypnotic rhythm on his drums that hearkens back to his love for west african music…… 
….. a hard-edged rhythmic romp (on brushes, no less)….. 
…….it rolls forward with an immediacy and excitement that is so attractive……  
…………..the drummer’s dedication to the black victims of police violence…… 
……’s fun to hear the quartet (bindman on soprano sax) swing with such glee with the drummer leading the way with his ‘parade’ drums……  
…. a multi-sectioned dance through several powerful melodies and shifting rhythms. pay attention to the drummer’s long solo (complete with vocalizations of the rhythm he is playing – that leads into a long, exciting, piano solo that resonates with a blend of american jazz and west african rhythms…….. 
– richard kamin’s review of time changes double cd 

royal hartigan is a most vocal proponent of world music traditions…..uniquely expansive view of jazz and improvisation…… blood drum spirit, is featured in this powerful new documentary directed by filmmaker and photographer sarah pettinella….. hartigan states in we are one that upon first hearing african music, he recognized its relationship to jazz. “it brought me to a place that transcends everyday life”….. pettinella caught beautiful moments with village master musicians and average citizens alike….. master musician, dancer and international speaker kwabena boateng…..summed up the film’s core in two sentences: “music can change the world. and i think it’s already done it.”
– john pietaro’s review of we are one film in the new york city jazz record newspaper 

…….a master of polyrhythms, hartigan seemed to have absorbed the teachings of his various instructors and put them to the test in the groups he performs with.
……bindman has rarely sounded better, whether playing lovely ballads or digging in to an uptempo tune. needless to say, hartigan’s playing is excellent and the sound mix really captures his wonderful stick and cymbal work.
richard kamins review of blood drum spirit live in china double cd

hartigan’s percussion work is as musical, or more so, than most of the percussion greats who have gone before him. his versatility could be imagined as a solo percussion work, much the way the art ensemble of chicago’s drummer don moye is.
– music reviewer karl ackermann

blood drum spirit’s ….. styles of music are far reaching and complex. in an era when most musicians tend to stay within a specific genre and play with familiar musicians and friends, royal hartigan easily stands out from the pack…..hartigan is a percussionist whose interests and influences spread all over the map and back……there is a wonderfully unique spontaneous feel to his music. instead of hearing one predictable song after another, with these discs you simply never know what will pop up next….delving into such diverse terrain….. music fans will really appreciate this wildly inventive stuff… (rating: 5)
– review of blood drum spirit double cd

lots of african influences populate hartigan’s drumming and composing…hartigan’s originals…are packed with rhythmic complexity…keep an ear on the drums and the bass, and you’ll find layers upon layers of complexity and rich rhythms.
– craig matsumoto review of blood drum spirit live in china double cd

royal hartigan has committed himself to living the music of the peoples of africa and african america. he lives with our brothers and sisters in villages in our homeland, eats our food, dances and drums with heart. whatever he does in his playing and sharing….is from his whole being and is the real thing.
– legendary west african drummer kofi ghanaba (‘son of ghana’)

royal hartigan is one of the great unsung heroes of the drumming world, and it is time the music community made an effort to sample some of the incredibly genuine sounds of his ensemble, blood drum spirit. royal, his music, and the personality of his group convey a consummate aural world view. the looseness, weight, and constant searching of his playing echo the voices ….of max roach, ed blackwell, elvin jones, and tony williams. his study of west african rhythm adds a profound sense of depth. royal is an old soul and a musical treasure.
– murray gusseck, co-owner, tapspace publishing, world renown musician, composer, arranger, percussionist, and monster drumset performer

leader royal hartigan ranks among the absolute greatest of contemporary percussionists. thoroughly familiar with nearly the entire scope of world drumming and percussion musics–everything from native american, to east asian, to south pacific, to west african, to south indian–hartigan has found a group of players entirely sympathetic to his massive world music canvas and produced a landmark disk. of course, it helps that he has spent a lifetime studying and playing everything from bebop to funk to blues to gospel to reggae to hip-hop to african to afro-latin styles……
…..seeking to situate a variety of native percussive musics in their natural state, yet overlain with a sophisticated jazz-world vibe, hartigan has produced a disc of uncanny depth and spirituality……
…..wielding a startling variety of percussion instruments, including drums, cymbals, rattles, gankogui, axatse, dondo, kulintang, babandir, agung, and dabakan, hartigan weaves a thoroughly mesmeric sound signature, which his playing mates–kevin mcneal (guitar), david bindman (tenor and alto sax, flute, clarinet), and wes brown (contrabass)–completely lock into……
…..this is one of the, if not the, greatest music discoveries i’ve ever made. if you have even the slightest affinity for hip, sophisticated world-jazz, you must listen to this unbelievably transcendent music. absolute highest recommendation. 
– jan p. dennis review of blood drum spirit double cd 

hartigan is a great drummer and band leader……
what is really amazing is not only how he has mastered and incorporated all of the traditional drums into his drum kit but also how he has brought that knowledge of traditional non-western drum traditions and put it to use within the context of jazz drumming…… 
hartigan’s work is a true world jazz……
and behind it all is that vastly powerful universal drum experiment that is hartigan. in short this is the sort of powerful straight-ahead jazz cd that makes people like me love jazz……
this is a superb cd and one that deserves to be more widely heard. these are first rate musicians playing with a passion, intelligence and a social purpose…this one is not to be missed……an absolute necessity.
– greg taylor vine voice review of blood drum spirit double cd 

it takes us on an enchanting journey through the sights and sounds…..from various cultures, usually with royal’s master drumming as the central force. more west african, juba, native american, inuit, papago and saguaro cultures inspire our journey through the lands of our ancestors. besides the consistently creative rhythm team….. david bindman’s tenor and alto sax play splendid inspired jazz solos throughout. a supreme offering! 
– music gallery review of the blood drum spirit double cd

…..hartigan integrates elements of the music of ghana, india, and the philippines as well as native americans into his compositions, using them to express his long-standing interests in multiple time signatures and polymeter. unlike those who use world music as an exotic flavor, hartigan integrates these influences deep within the structure of his pieces, which are an expression of a world view that goes beyond music….they soar high, lifted by the thermal currents supplied by hartigan and bassist wes brown.
– david dupont review of blood drum spirit double cd (five stars) in the all music guide 

….. percussionist royal hartigan – who plays an array of instruments; the jazz player’s drum kit is one small portion …..hartigan employs a set of chinese opera drums, clappers, and cymbals toward establishing a dramatic, noh-like ambiance …..a three-dimensional aural text……cross cultural otherness is elaborated in hartigan’s insistent patterns beat out on the dondo, a west african string tension, double-headed, hourglass shaped drum. hartigan emphasizes the west african milieu of mackey’s poem with his playing, syncopating his beat with a similar cross-culturality…..
– peter o’leary’s some ecstatic elsewhere review of nathaniel mackey with royal hartigan & hafez modirzadeh cd, strick: song of the andoumboulou 16-25

royal’s work…..will provide drum set players with a ‘new’ vocabulary based on some of the oldest and most influential rhythms in the world.
– the active musician website 

hartigan adds a sensitive tumble balanced between background and mid-level surge. a tap dancer and skilled in the use of his hands, hartigan unfurls a stripped-down and economical web of beats at the beginning of “wadsworth falls”…
– music reviewer clifford allen for the bobby bradford-hafez modirzadeh ensemble cd live at the magic triangle

…..hartigan …..combines non-western rhythms with a standard jazz quartet to create a series of impressive originals …..hartigan brings forth a powerful africanized beat…… 
– music reviewer ken waxman

…..consummate drummer royal hartigan is a wizard who synthesizes his expertise in west african and korean rhythms with jazz drumming.
– choreographer, dancer, and musician peggy myo-yong choy, madison wi

…..a skilled performer with a deep understanding of the cultural milieus from which these musics arise.
– the late wesleyan university professor emeritus and legendary ethnomusicologist david park mcallester, monterey, ma

blood drum spirit ensemble is the culmination of many years of work and a confluence of many different musical traditions. royal hartigan’s ensemble seamlessly incorporates west african, filipino, and indian rhythms with the african american jazz tradition.
– leon lee, beijing, china

…….all night long the music was remarkable.  the piano had been re-tuned so all that vijay played had very different and highly effective sounds. hafez and amir’s duos were ear-popping as was royal’s solo especially the one where he played with his hands only.  …………..i will just say that this last night during my month long visit to ny was one of virtuosic music.
– review of hafez modirzadeh’s post chromodal out! cd release concert at the jazz gallery, new york, july 13, 2012, posted on july 14, 2012 by bwright 

the rhythm section of arthur hirahara, electric piano, julian litwack, electric guitar, wayne batchelor, upright bass and royal hartigan, drums and percussion functioned as much more than support. one moment laying it down, the next kicking it up over the heads of the house, they were equally comfortable in every mode.
special attention must be paid to hartigan, a learned percussion master who embarks in world music explorations each time he sits down at his drumkit, which includes temple and wood blocks and other ‘traps’ including a talking drum and a gong. of note to percussionists (including this writer), hartigan can often be heard playing his gong like a ride cymbal for a ‘kerr-ang’ that no cymbal can supply. 
– john pietaro review of 22 february 2012 concert, the music of cal massey: a tribute/black liberation movement suite, with fred ho’s green monster big band at the red rooster club, harlem, new york, originally published in the cultural worker blog

………bindman has put together a strong sextet, each musician has a strong resume of experiences………….art hirahara’s mccoy-like piano solo is a gem as he tosses lines back and forth with royal hartigan’s propulsive drumming……..
– bruce gallanter’s downtown music gallery review of david bindman’s sunset park polyphony cd

…………with first-call support specialists, bassist ken filiano and drummer, royal hartigan, the album duly highlights the musicians group-focused chemistry and distinct characterizations they bring to the vanguard.
[hartigan’s] “wadsworth falls” is an extended piece that highlights the multidirectional aspects of the band. constructed like a suite, hartigan kicks off a pulsating african jazz type groove in concert with filiano’s prominent lines and robust line of attack……….the drummer also intersperses a latin-jazz pulse with rolling toms patterns into the divergent storyboard…….
– glenn astarita 11 december 2017 review of bobby bradford – hafez modirzadeh with ken filiano & royal hartigan: live at the magic triangle 

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