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Istari

Chad "Chadzilla" Johnson has kept time for a slew of local musicians in addition to filling the drum throne for his main projects, Double Parked, Chadzilla & the Asteroids and Chadzilla3. Here, he teams up with Ed Contreras for the world-percussion-driven endeavor known as Istari, which got its start performing for children in local schools and libraries. On their self-titled debut, Johnson and Contreras take listeners on a percussive world tour of sorts, exploring African rhythms with dueling djembes on the opening cut; incorporating Cuban flourishes on "Spogli and the Mighty Guaguanco" and "Dos Gatos Perdidos," two of the album's finer tracks; and taking forays into Middle Eastern and Brazilian realms. Whatever territory these cats happen to be charting, it makes for a fantastic voyage.