LARRY DRAUGHN MUSIC GROUP — Screw Religion Mixtape

by Jordan Green

Larry Q. Draughn Jr. was dazzling jam-session audience in Greensboro’s fledgling but quality jazz scene about five years ago as a drum prodigy in NC A&T University’s music program. He’s homegrown, having begun his formal training with the Grimsley High School Band. Among his distinctions, he was the first graduate percussion jazz-studies major at NC Central University in Durham. As a player, composer and arranger, he exhibits an iconoclastic streak coupled with spiritual earnestness that suggests the posture of John Coltrane.

But texturally speaking, Screw Religion Mixtape channels more new-jack bombast than harmonic meditation. Fitting for 2012, Larry Draughn Music Group is a mish-mash of dense instrumentation and sampled preaching matched track for track with whip-smart rapping. And Draughn’s virtuosic percussion is featured prominently throughout. The group’s Reverb Nation page lists Rashaunda McNeil, Bernard Wright, William Darity, Ernest Turner, Lawrence Peoples and Michael Hanna as personnel. McNeil, Peoples and Hanna are namechecked on this album, but I’m not clear on what their respective duties are. In any case, there’s nary a misplaced note, beat or vocalization. Don’t be fooled by the album title; there’s nothing irreligious about this cohesive collection. Titles like “He Lives,” “Gotta Make a Choice,” “Deaf (Death) to the Flesh,” “What’s Wrong with the Church? (Harsh)” and “The Great Commission” should let you know this is 100 percent an article of faith, albeit brimming with scorn for hypocrites and malpractitioners.