Joe “Jojo” Bowden plays from his roots. His roots are his soul, and his soul is steeped in his roots. The roots of the music he loves and plays, the roots are the steady ground of his creativity, the roots of the culture of which he truly and simply is.

Bowden is a drum talker. Like Brian Blade, one of his heroes, Bowden is telling you like it is from the skins of his set. There’s nothing skin-deep about it, though, as the artistry is as deep as the way back-ness of the music’s beginnings. It’s an Afro thing: a perspective, a grounding, a lens. The culture is an always presence as he plays, leads, and makes music happen.

His is the funk in jazz, like his own kind of Funk & Wagnalls, always pushing the roots further and exploring the music’s beautiful and inspired evolutions — from the first messages of the first drums, to the sensuality and charm of the most soulful R&B, right to the most exploratory and genre-evading sounds. He leads from the drums, tells stories, cradles the creativity, and grooves with the grandest of the foundations of the culture of the music he loves and lives.