"I long to be in one steady group that involves world music aspects and creative art-form jazz music, not necessarily swing," the drummer-percussionist says, from his Manhattan home. "It's very difficult to find world music players who know anything about soloing over chord changes.
"The reverse is just as hard; most jazz musicians think they know enough about everything to mix into any kind of situation, but they don't. Arrogance is rampant."
Haddad's versatility makes him a favorite with everyone from singer Paul Simon to pianist Laszlo Gardony. He just finished working with another favorite Cleveland son, tenor giant Joe Lovano, on the latter's upcoming Caruso album. The night he's interviewed, he's entertaining Simon Shaheen, a master of oud and classical violin with whom he played last week at New York's Town Hall. Blue Flame, the Ark 21 album they recorded together, is in preliminary contention in 11 Grammy categories. Haddad, whose father Jim owned the Kings Club at Cedar Center in the '70s and '80s, is also performing in a sacred music festival in Fez, Morocco in June and, the month before, at the World Cup Games in Seoul, Korea, with more than 200 drummers from 25 countries.
"Those things are really incredible," he says. "The trance drumming thing is really amazing. There are traditions we know nothing about. We're just lightweights in that world."