Rick Walker is a jack of all trades. The percussionist/producer/live-looping pioneer has played with bands that specialize in everything from British Invasion-style rock to world music, from jazz fusion to electronica, and has never been content to stick with one thing for very long. A lot of this stems from moving around a lot during his youth. “I was an air force brat, and in the first nine years I lived, my family moved nine times,” Walker says. “We saw a lot of exotic things, and I became a xenophile.
I just loved the new. I’m this restless spirit and I’m not comfortable just doing one thing all the time. I just love new stuff.” One thing that has stuck with Walker is his fascination with live looping. A trailblazer in the genre, Walker’s International Live Looping Festival is the biggest and longest-running festival of its kind, and he has spent almost two decades applying his skills as a live looper to his solo and group projects. “In 1995, my brother and Gary Regina—who were in Worlds Collide—and I got the first inexpensive digital looping machines and formed a trio called Third Wave,” he says. “We had the first monthly live looping gig in the world at that time. People had done looping all the way back to the ’60s with tape, but you couldn’t synchronize anything until the digital era, so we were right at the very start of that era.” Walker’s performance at Kuumbwa Jazz on Thursday will double as a showcase of his work in the found sound, jazz and indie rock worlds, as well as an opportunity for fans of Worlds Collide to hear their songs played live again. “We’re having a reunion of that band for the first time in 12 years at this show, which I’m excited about,” he says.
INFO: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $17/door. 427-2227.