Sunday, 23 December 2007

MEMORIES OF 2007...

Mhhh....
So many good things happened in 2007. So many things happen all the time. I have heard folks who say they don't watch the news. Why? It is always bad news, they moan. Always sad. Deaths. Bombs. Disasters. Yes that is true; but, life is alot of stuff. The good and the bad. The worst and the best.
Contrasts.
Thats why it is called "life." Can you find a better word?
In this blog I prefer dealing with the positive...the best ...about those who try...
Especially from the unknown world of our main stream, biased media. A media that only reports sensational stuff, ah, if you have been following this blog you can guess what i am trying to say...
So here are my memorable moMENTS of 2007.

1-Africans in London TV on the net:
Beginnings of an interesting future to give Africans a voice through well done internet television.
Directed by London based musician and producer Joseph Adamson. Check out a few clips here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQB2AoXGX0g
And
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMOTPLUF17Y

2-Scandinavia:

New music video release called Dar es Salaam by reggae Oslo based musician, Ras Nas. Ras Nas also runs a website promoting arts, music and literature from the same unknown world. It is important we check and support such websites daily. Power to the People!

3-Kenyan writer Ngugi speaks at London's British Museum:

Ngugi wa Thiong'o
spoke to a huge attentive audience at London's British Museum in June 2007.


Ngugi looked at the power of the Word. Word as a nucleus of speech.
He enlightened us with origins. Backgrounds. The dominance of the English language. Why everyone is striving to speak and use this idiom to the detriment of killing other indigenious languages. He painted some of the main forces involved: history, colonialism, economics, classes, etc.
We, for example, go to other languages instead of our own, to enrich "other" words, rather than our own. Or some of us speaking English as a way "to get modern."
The destruction of identities is the biggest result of this domination.
To me Ngugi's talk that evening re inforced the importance of knowing who you are and where you come from.
I can still remember how quiet the whole hall was. Rewind. Reminder. Respect.

4-The Africa Cup warm-ups
I went to a few matches in London and watched Ghana play (and win) against Nigeria; then Ghana play Senegal ( and drew).

This mixed audience at the match tells it all: Ghanian flag, children, international paparazzi, males and females, etc.

Ghana was popular in all these warm-up friendlies. I was later to hear someone saying " Ghana should win the Africa cup, it would be good for the tournament." Why? Ghana is one of a few peaceful countries on the continent. Ghana is the new haven of West Africa. Ghana. (At the time this was written little did we know Ghana would be trounced in semi-finals by Cameroon, in February 2008).

5- i consider this one of the best expressions of 2007...

"...WE DONT NEED LEADERS. WE NEED EVERYONE TO BE A LEADER."

Uttered by the French/ Spanish singer, Manu Chao, while interviewed by London bi-lingual Brasilian magazineJungle Drums
in October.
My favourite song from this remarkable musician is "Clandestino" where he takes on his best theme (underdogs)by singing about illegal immigrants from different races and places.

6-My saddest moment was the death of my father.

Apart from being my dad, Dr. Macha was the first adult to encourage when my love affair with guitars began as a teenager. He would say things like "learn to play tunes that anyone in the world will like" or "you have very fast fingers, you can become a great player..."
Later, when i began writing and gigging seriously he would give feedback, always, incisive, deep, honest. With the musicalbums he would dissect the harmony, melodies, lyrics, even subtle stuff that music critics usually miss out.
He perhaps saw in me what he would have liked to become. Since his own father, (a fervent, articulate preacher) prohibited his music dreams back in the 1950's after having recorded a few albums.
Yes my father was not just a doctor, but a farmer, wine maker and fantastic guitarist/ songwriter.



My parents as a young couple in 1953, long long before i was born. My late mother also played guitar and sang (in especially) my father's best recordings, of 1958. These two never once discouraged me from being a musician, artist or who I am. Such are good parents. Strange that 2007, was exactly ten years since my charismatic, lovely mother passed away too. May they rest in peace. Amen.

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Thursday, 13 December 2007

Acoustic Live Music at the Blag Club, Notting Hill, West London


Klara CD sleeve pic by Lisa Deurell

These days...
You are probably on someone's mailing list...
I am on several; i get calls and invitations almost every minute: most times one ignores these calls but eventually succumbing, like I did on Tuesday.
Last time i met this Swedish blonde was in the company of the great musician Hukwe Zawose almost ten years ago. Then Hukwe, died.
His nephew,Charles Zawose who accompanied the genius of Mbira Music would also pass away a year later.
...But Klara? Their marimba student... She went on playing...and she has been sending me news about her music; from different parts of the world. I never heard the music of Klara Kjellén.
So I am trotting up the stairs of the Blag Club in Notting Hill.
At the entrance stands an attractive female with the friendliest smile on this coldest London winter evening of December 11th...
"Who have you come to see?"
I am not even aware that i just handed her four pounds. Smiles are magicians.
"Are there loads of acts playing?"
Apparently there are and so, I say: "Klara..."
The fact is I don't even recall how she looks like. Music is that strange.
"She is Swedish."
"Oh, her," the Smile recognises The Subject in question.
"I am also from Sweden..."
Inside are many musicians doing a sound check. A lousy sound-check. Seems to go on forever. As a musician i know the feeling of waiting and checking instruments while the audience is waiting and watching.

The fans : Cesare Rossi and Mara Darwish all the way from Italy.

Time to get a drink. I am staring and sipping my red glass of wine.
Where is she?
As I ogle and flinch from the constant feedbacking of the PA ("testing testing, one, two, three") a friendly guy shakes my hand. He is none other than Johnny Fish...he will be the first Solo act ...on a guitar that sings better than his voice and a voice that brings joy to his brash, straight to the point lyrics. John is genuinely(and truly) the unknown, busy, bustling, London acoustic scene. The scene that only bloggers (and blog readers like you) would find amusing.

Fact is the whole night at the Blag club follows Johnny Fish's punch and tone.
Pete Marshall, the second act, is big in size and height but has a mellow voice that soothes, lulls. Pete is pure soulful singing.

Later, he says he was merely toying with covers, that he has more music i.e. like rest of the musicians here,all have much more than what is being seen or given...
Take the third act. In my opinion wonderful symbiosis of guitarist / singer in one. A Glasgow chap by the name of Shuggie Murphy.

Shuggie's guitar won't just behave itself, though. His fantastic playing is jarred by the fuzzy sounds and everyone starts giving suggestions: it must be his battery ("NO it is new" he corrects)...wrong cables? No. Robert the sound man is busy indeed, and only the last song really gives credit to this man's fabulous abilities.
The only black duet is: singer Deborah Charles and guitarist Barry Vincent; who as a teenager jammed with the great Bob Marleyin Jamaica...
The two have a distinct blues-jazzy-funky sound that ushers memories and nostalgia of the pure sound. Before the invasion of manufactured "music", if you know what i mean.

Not just the sound but the combination of an acoustic rich feminine voice and those well matched experienced jazzy strings of Barry. Barry confesses they did not even rehearse much. (What about if they did?)
Yes it is, indeed, special here and very low key.
And to this is where the lady who emailed me will play. I am re-introduced toKlara by her boyfriend, Tom.
She is leading a quartet.
Most songs are about relationships and the theme is reassurance. Self-explanatory titles: "Patience", "I breathe Without You Now", " They will slow down"...all giving encouragement to a ceaseless, restless soul, about this life.

Klara on keyboards...

My favourite is "Under your skin" which opens up her album of the same name. The beat and arrangement of guitar/ stroke/ drum/ guitar/ stroke/ vocals/ stroke/ drum stroke/ guitar...is quite catchy...
"LISTEN TO ME
I HAVE A STORY THAT I HAVE NEVER TOLD ANYONE
AND IF YOU PROMISE ME NOT TO LOOK DOWN
UNTIL I HAVE FINISHED THE STORY I WILL TELL YOU..."

Musically, the album is as effortless as her live gig. A singer songwriter rich and filled with melodies ("I guess I was a little bit in love" is so soft and sweet and svelte it keeps away my slightly tipsy mood and hunger pangs)...
This is Notting Hill, West London.
I am glad i came to theBlag Club.

Klara and boyfriend Tom (first, left)relaxing with pals after gig.

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Friday, 7 December 2007

LOTS OF CASH RAISED FOR TANZANIAN SCHOOL KIDS......


Progress, we know historically has always been made, through individual initiative. Self-determination.
Depending on governments and dodgy guys in suits, well, i leave that to your own judgement.
Let us speak about these two ladies whose only power is love in their heart and minds...

Aged 18 years, the then GAP student, Katie Martin, with the Tukolene pupils he came to love and eager to help back in 2002 (Photo by Phoebe Bryant).

Before we meet them let me, briefly, get something off my chest.
Charity is something alot of us coming from poor countries (especially those concerned with the way things have been trekking, ashamedly, past 40 years) glare at with total suspicion. Lately, for example, there is absolute loathing amongst us musicians (in the Diaspora particularly)who only get invited to play in small gigs called charity events, whereby organisers claim there is no money, that the hard sweat is for those far away, suffering in distant lands.
(Then you have to get on a self defence over-drive and explain that we boarded aeroplanes, to try our luck, in rich countries, because of that very situation!)
Many musicians are resorting to working in supermarkets as sales clerks, cleaners, security guards, bus drivers, taxi drivers, school teachers, waitresses,elderly care-workers, ( i can go on all day) simply because there are no gigs, no engagements, nobody wants African music at the moment.
Yet everywhere you cast your eye, are people carrying African Djembe drums,folks trying to learn African traditional dancing; African rhythms and songs can be heard in the most minute details, skeleton and veins of contemporary pop music. However, when huge gigs come with alot at stake like say, publicity and exposure; (e.g. the infamous London Live 8, in 2005) African musicians are Uninvited with a capital U.
So, it is with such disdain, I treated Katie Martin's emails and phone calls a couple of months back, when the attractive duo (and her friend Phoebe Bryant), invited Kitoto Band to play at this major charity event. This would be held at the Hammersmith Town Hall, West London, on Friday November 30th...
How wrong was I !!!
Katie Martin was totally, understanding. She paid us a decent fee, made sure everything I demanded discussed, weighed and checked, before committing.
Katie proved that having worked briefly as an English teacher in Africa (Tanzania 2002) she knew poverty, genuinely liked people, sussed the struggle for survival.
For example when i protested that some of the band's friends and fans coming would not be able to afford the £50 per person fee they agreed a £10 charge for them to enjoy the ocassion but minus the dinner.

On stage during the evening, the team of Friends of Tukolene withKiota members address the audience...From left: Vikki Ommanney, Phoebe Bryant, Katie Martin, Nicki Sumner, Pippa Brown, Ericka Hicks. (Photo by Lewis Hicks)

The gig was good, vibes of the evening great, there was colour and an easy going feel about.
They had at least 250 guests and made around £14,000 for school children at Tukolene in Chang'ombe, Dar es Salaam and for Kiota another charity organisation that had joined hands with them to help make the ocassion succesful.
Phoebe and Katie made sure a wide picture of art-forms was represented : Ugandan food, fashion models, photographers, High flyers acrobats (Fab Moses and Emmanuel the Magnificent); and the Kitoto Band.


From left back: Nicki Hutchins (UK: Sax/ Vocals), Oli Savill (Portugal/Percussion), Andre Mathurin (St Lucia/Bass).
From left front:Koko Kanyinda(Congo-Percussion/ Vocals),Christina Binder (Japan/Austria: Vocals),Mutsa Mankona (Zimbabwe/ Dancer), Simone Aquino (Brasil/Dancer) and Freddy Macha (Tanzania/Vocals/Guitar/Perc). Missing, Gwang (Grenada) on Percussion.

Pic by Barry Ayton

We had a hard time with the sound as Hammersmith Town Hall is a huge place and the lesson for these organisers would be to make sure they sort out the technology next time (enough speakers in the massive hall, monitors, adequate cables to avoid fuzzy-fizzy-foozy sounds, etc)...Barry the engineeer struggled/straggled, yet managed to stay calm...nevertheless.
Despite the hitch ( and hassle); people danced, ate, oggled, wobbled and swam in the atmosphere.
And what did Phoebe and Katie say a few days later ?
Will the money collected be useful to the children?
...On my visit to Tukolene in September, the manager Darius Mhawi laid out Tukolene’s future plans. One of the main things he would like to use the money for is ensure that children who pass exams to secondary school are able to continue attending – so Tukolene will be providing successful graduates of their supplementary education with uniforms, fees and home visits to guarantee long-term success for the pupils.
Tukolene would also like to expand its tailoring training by buying more machines to produce uniforms and become a permanent source of income for the Centre.
Did you get much support from authorities, or was it more personal initiative?
Will you do it again?

...Africa Alive! success was largely down to the initiative of family and friends. We didn’t have much support from Tanzanian authorities, apart from KaiRo International which supports Tukolene on a long term basis. If we were to hold the event again (perhaps in 2 years time) it would be fantastic to expand involvement to Tanzanian groups in the UK, and raise awareness of Tanzanian support here.
Do you think charity work is good for poor countries like Tanzania? Some argue it encourages dependent on aid and begging…
The focus of charity work is really important in developing countries like Tanzania. Sharing knowledge is much more important than, for example, building a hall or a school, as knowledge helps people to think beyond their current situation and make long-term improvements. Skills like literacy, manual expertise and business management can open up possibilities for people’s self-employment in communities without resources to spend on training.
Dependency on aid arises mainly where monetary handouts are given without the considering whether the recipients can use the money efficiently; for example providing capital for new businesses without providing business management training or a loan scheme. If aid is focused on improving knowledge first, this is a more permanent way of contributing and generates economic growth within the community without direct monetary aid. Smaller charities and NGOs also stand to gain a lot more and quicker as the funds can be directly applied without going through a lengthy and costly administrative process.
Are you two going to continue your work with these types of projects in the future?
...Tanzania and in particular Tukolene has been part of my life since 2002, and having returned there recently it has definitely become part of my agenda to continue to work to support their projects. We are both Chair and Secretary of Friends of Tukolene in the UK, which we hope will gain charitable status very soon and continue to support Tukolene.
Anything else…
...Tanzania is a beautiful country with amazing people who should be celebrated for their everyday achievements as well as their tourist attractions. If you agree, and would like to know more, please visit www.tukolene.org.

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Sunday, 25 November 2007

Hammersmith Town Hall Gig 30th NOV

Ever heard of Tukolene?
I will let you know in a minute.
On Friday 30th November, a huge party is on at the Hammersmith Town Hall, West London, for children in Tanzania. One ticket for the bash is at a staggering £50! Hold on minute. This is not your normal party. First of all once you pay £50 you have a full meal, cocktail drinks plus entertainment. This will include a fashion show, acrobats (by Highflyers) and music provided by Kitoto band.
NOTE: There is a £10 Discount fee for those coming after 9 p.m. These will not dine but just dance to the music of Kitoto Band starting 10.30 sharp till half past Midnight.
Who organised this event?
The story begins with two London ladies, Katie Martin and Phoebe Bryant. They said they fell in love with Tukolene Youth Centre while teaching English in Tanzania in 2002. Now years later settled and working they decided to do a charity concert to collect money for these youngsters.
Ben TV invited Katie and Phoebe to talk about the event last Thursday. After the interview, two members of Kitoto band, sang Kilimanjaro to boost the ocassion.
WE took a pic to remember. Two Ben TV presenters,John Uche(second from left) and Trish Adudu (first right),posing with Kitoto singer Christina (first left ) and myself (guitar), while Phoebe and Katie cheer on jubilantly.
Tickets are available by request email to africaalive@hotmail.co.uk or by contacting Katie on 07851 082051 or Phoebe on 07866 623066.
Venue Address : Hammersmith Town Hall, King's Str / Nigel Playfair, W6. Nearest tube : Ravenscourt.

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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Latest: Nkwazi's Thought Provoking Blog

Mhhh...
An interesting writer with alot to say about present African society.
I have just been reading his blog and find it extremely thoughtful and interesting. Ideas, views, thoughts and nail biting political analysis. Nkwazi Nkuzi Mhango calls his blog Free Thinking.

Some of you might have read his articles in This Day.
Check him out. You might learn a thing or two.
My favourite take on this guy's work is the balance between good language and catchy content.

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Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Meet Gloria Mutahanamilwa and...

...Burning Zeal: a trait that assures Results…



One afternoon in 1983, I recall strolling down the hot, scorching, sunny streets of Dar es Salaam with Kassim Magati, piano player and composer of Sunburst (the first band to have popularised the contagious Kitoto rhythm). We were talking about the hell and rough times of living in the Third World.
“You have to have a burning zeal to keep on going in Africa…”
He quipped suddenly, chuckling, wiping the streaming sweat from his face.
I remember a lot about this guy but I will never forget his key phrase:
Burning Zeal.
I find those words a living formula even after Kassim passed away prematurely in 1994 while working in Botswana. Burning Zeal is a key signature, a rhythm, tempo, insignia that may be applied to any individual lighting the fire to improve lives, better the world, refresh buttons. Just like our blogging guest today; 35 year old, Gloria Mutahanamilwa. This unassuming, articulate, intelligent lady, lives in London where she is in the last stages of her Masters degree in media studies at the East London University.
So then, folks.
Meet Gloria.


A name that means honour, exaltation, worth of praise, adoration, worship, splendour (glory of a king’s reign), radiant beauty, extreme happiness, triumph, pleasure…
Why blog this mother of two? To answer that let us not forget to mention Gloria’s husband, Mr. Bakari Mnkondo. Not many males will “allow” a young wife to leave home in Africa; abandon two boys (aged six and two) and go overseas for a while. Gloria says of the remarkable Bakari: “He lets me rove and be creative…”
Behind every successful man there is a woman; behind every successful woman there is, equally, a good guy. So the saying goes.

For ten years Gloria Mutahanamilwa was nursing a dream.
Having finished her studies (high school, journalism) then compulsory one year national military service; and having worked in various newspaper (and stringed for Voice of America radio), in between winning Woman Sports reporter of the year award (1996); she began travelling worldwide in 1997 and was bothered by one thing.
Where is Tanzania?
“ Every time I introduced myself coming from this huge East African country, people would ask stupidly…Tasmania? Where is this Tasmania? It annoyed me that nobody knew Tanzania…”
But, let us ask ourselves. What is the purpose of publicising countries?
Why go to India? Why China? Great Wall? Why London or Jamaica? Dance to reggae? Cuba? Smoke cigars, listen to Castro? Why Brazil? Watch football, dance to Samba, and experience the carnival? People go to countries they have heard about and eventually fall in love with them. Gloria says Tanzania has so much to offer but is unknown.

Her dream to make Tanzania known burned her continuously for the next decade until she bumped into Jane Hughes (another remarkable lady) organising the Welsh Conwy Food Festival in October 2007.
Creating a vision needs a Burning Zeal…
“We are not USA or Japan. People do not know us. We need to publicise ourselves. Tanzania is not just Mount Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar. Not all foreigners want to come to Tanzania to see animals or climb mountains. Some want to eat or buy products. I usually go to Zanzibar to eat at Forodhani. Everyone has differing interests when they go somwhere…”

And how shall this be achieved?
“We need to sell the image of Buy Tanzania. Just like they have the Buy British slogan. We have a lot to show. We cannot rely on charity and begging.”
To win something, however, one has to knock doors…
For months Gloria made calls to ministries, companies, members of parliament, and you know what? No-one offered to help. Only two Tanzanian MP’s responded (Abdulkarim Shah of Mafia region) and Philip Marmo (currently Minister for Good Governance in President’s Office); who showed moral support. The rest never responded or gave positive comments. One Ministry official actually asked Gloria:
“Why not use the money you are spending phoning me up to buy yourself a shirt?”
Gloria responded that she wasn’t interested in a shirt but make Tanzania part of this international festival.
In the end she had to rely on herself, her family and a circle of friends.
Family love is very crucial in lighting these fires…
Gloria says she spent £4,800 which all came from her dear family and a list of friends and well wishers who we shall list below.
Her sister Jessica Mutahanamilwa travelled all the way from the USA a week before the Conwy event to give support. “The festival must happen…she kept encouraging,” Gloria recalls harrowing moments of despair, when she was even considering giving up.
A friend in need, is a friend, indeed…

Welsh band at the festival poses with Abu Faraji and Jessica (Gloria's sister). Pic by Gloria.
There were people with a heart. Like the Othman family. Saidi Yakubu Othman, blogged Gloria’s efforts long before the task was even known, going there, taking photos, and highlighting it.
Saidi Othman, designed her website, free of charge. It took a month, but it was worth it. One of the key phrases in the Gloria’s website is this statement about Tanzanian tradition:
HOSPITALITY IS CONSIDERED OF GREAT IMPORTANCE. EVEN IF ONE IS NOT HUNGRY TO REFUSE TO EAT WOULD BE AN INSULT…

Uli Kyusa leads a traditional South Tanzanian dance (Tunogele) played by Sam Mbogo drummers. Behind her, Justina Ngolle struts her thing while Gloria (far back waves a flag). (Pic by Jessica Mutahanamilwa).
And the Group of Twenty Five. These great 25 darlings travelled with Gloria to Conwy on October 27th and 28th. They helped with transport (Kora the unselfish driver), rent, logistics but most important, making food.
Zainab Makasala; Uli Kyusa from London, Justina Ngolle from High Wycombe, all cooked; while Sam Mbogo Troupe provided traditional drumming (ngoma) music.
Mrs. Rahma Rajab Nzeri spoke of Tanzania’s food etiquette at the festival. Plus others who helped in miscellaneous ways: Aunt Aggy,Ciddy Kikenya and Beatrice.
Not forgeting : Mwanaidi Mlolwa (of Tanzania Fisheries),Mr. Sumari and Asia Kizza- Mtambalike who travelled to Tanzania for resources.
Abu Faraji of TZUK.NETwas present throughout, including highlighting the festival on his website. According to Gloria two distinct individuals Abu Faraji and Mrs Rahma Rajab-Nzeri, gave a very important contribution that ensured the Tanzania Food and Culture 2007 happening.
Sylvester Chacha was a handy man; available for any DIY stuff.
Doctor Khoza from Hastings did not attend but offered some very unique advice…
Success stories.
Every consistent effort brings Rewards.
Gloria says they had only 20 Tanzanian flags to give away. Many people including children were keen to have those flags but were disappointed by their unavailability. So next time, give more flags to Gloria, Tanzanian Government.
There was the interesting story of the MBUZI.

Literally, mbuzi, (check picture above of Justina Ngolle with two eager fans); means, goat. But in Swahili, mbuzi, is not just an animal but also a gadget used to grate the coconut in so many tropical recipes. This act of grating coconut (to extract the milk) attracted the attention of many festival attendees.
IT was a success...
Gloria says they have been invited again next year( the festival will be on 25th and 26th Oct, 2008) ; hopefully there will be more support from higher quarters and sponsors.
Speaking about Gloria Mutahanamilwa, events organiser, Jane Hughes who has been living in Wales for three decades, says:
“Gloria is wonderful, dynamic, and enthusiastic. She is just the kind of person I was looking for…”
The said festival, by the way, won the Best Welsh Community Events Award this year.

Gloria being interviewed by a UK television crew.
(Pic by Jessica Mutahanamilwa)..

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Monday, 12 November 2007

Twelve of November...a poem

...first written at Aylmer, Quebec, Canada, 12th November ,1994

when mr. and mrs. god made the world they both knew
houses would glow, flowers shine, cars screech scratch with laughter

mrs. Goddess was the ultimate princess
just like the kings and queens who rule earth’s kingdoms with so much evil today
forgetting the past working for the future that seems bleak
like star trek video games
distorted ,dignified , but worried...

cockroaches used to live in palaces
with mosquitoes as their efficient servants. then came adam-eve and their gang
they invented : conquer, plunder, investment with multi-pesticides pollution…
everybody fled!
elephants, snakes, lions, ruled the jungles
the fish decided waters should be best hiding. everybody started killing everyone. multi pesticides, bullets: survival of the fittest

mmmmh….today. ladies walk tall (feeling low)
men’s eyes hide in fears , guns & beers
the drunk, drugged, stoned shout their myths of a lost
…erection....viagra, viagra, viagra...

parents sleep in separate bedrooms. kids learn to die of loneliness, restlessness, confusion very early on loving hip-hop, ecstasy
becoming masters of spiritual emptiness
(the law of the jungle that god knows so well)

christmas comes.
families eat, belch, embrace
but soon running back to snow, jobs & taxes
extremists, meantime blow bombs : create fear
talking of the end of the world. they love to terrorise those with a power of peace, innocence, providence, excellence, prudence, intelligence….

you are never sure when is your next meal!
you are never sure how long you will live!
floods! hurricanes! famines! earthquakes! wars! AIDS! ozone fear!
sp i r i t u a l h u n g e r!

god! goddess! god!
don’t just sit there ! you made this movie , please sir!
heal your house ! recreate us! bandages are needed…
mrs. goddess give peace makers and lovers more power!
Lets dance the choreography of optimism …
God, do something your highness!

...give more power to lovers and peacemakers!

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Wednesday, 7 November 2007

A Photo from the Past...

Playing Music in Capelinha, Salvador, Bahia...1993.


It was a hot day. Summer. Few weeks before Christmas 1993.
Salvador is a special place. This used to be Brazil's capital for several centuries, until Rio De Janeiro became THE city. Nowadays Brasilia is the government's nexus. You rarely hear of tourists and visitors going to Brasilia, around the Amazon forest. Chiefly because there is no sea, no beaches, nothing of the kinky stuff that attracts folks to Salvador and Rio. So then, i would like to talk about this photo, taken by who?
The neighbourhood is São Caetano de Capelinha, right at the heart of Salvador, credited as one of the poorest and "most dangerous" in the city. In the blue distance you can catch the Atlantic ocean. When checked carefully, a bit of the architecture can be seen as well; typical Portuguese housing style; Roman almost in outlook and history.
From left is the bass player, also called Freddy. Freddy is one of the coolest dude i have ever played with. He rarely spoke and when he did it was very quiet; lots of sense and played the most amazing bass lines.
I am clutching the guitar which i still own and play today, an acoustic-electric Takamini, except that i have changed the suitcase, since that day. You can vaguely see all the stickers, taken from thousand places i had been.
Then Denilson. Holding his kit-drum pedals. Exceptionally gifted musician and storyteller. He played kit drums and percussion. He is the man who helped shape my Samba rhythms and i learnt a lot about tambourine (called "Pandeiro" in Brazil) from him. You cannot play Bossa Nova or Samba well, if you don't know the Pandeiro, which is as central to Brazilian music as tablas are to Indian music. The word Pandeiro, according to historical sources, as told by the late, English writer, Peter Fryer, in his exciting book "Rhythms of Resistance", comes from "Bandir" (an Arab word) and is Middle East, in origin. World wide, we call it the tambourine. Dielson loved to talk apart from music, the economic misery of this region, where most of the art movements in the country originates. Here, the highest number of slaves from Africa (globally) were taken and to date 80% of the Bahia population is of African origin. The subsequent inter marriage with native Indians and the Portuguese, has in several centuries, produced the most beautiful looking humans.
Denilson would remind us.
Samba began in Bahia. Capoeira, the Brazilian martial arts began here. Samba Reggae (also known as Axé Music) as well; "yet you find the most absurd poverty in Brazil here."
At one point I got a scabby (skin itching) infection while playing Capoeira barefoot, it was spreading and i scratched like a man possessed. Denilson, joked that scratching, was part of the dancing culture of the region, that to feel "the love" one had to scratch and understand the agony. Metaphorical, huh?
Intelligent Dielson was a twin and it was his brother, Dielson, who snapped this pic.
These twins were however, complete opposites. Whereas Denilson roved and drummed with no spouse yet; Dielson was a practical man, with nothing much to say, raising a huge family; his kids running around, in this dilapidated impoverished area, filled with pick pockets, guns, stray dogs and cats.
At the far right is Daniel, a cheerful American keyboards player. Daniel was always having fun. We hanged around the Porto beach alot where women would flock around and i recall him asking me :
"Fred (Americans always call me Fred instead of Freddy), what do all these girls see in me? My body is not as well chiseled as these Brazilian guys. Tell me. In California no woman looks at me but here I am the man!"
It was a funny, interesting topic which we looked at with laughing eyes. Music brings people together, makes instant pals, and may raise crucial questions without any qualms.
This particular day we had been in a studio top of this high building and tried recording a song of mine, which i would re-record years later : I Wanna Kiss You.
I have to repeat one thing about Salvador-Bahia.
In here you feel musical twenty four hours. Buses filled with chanting youths singing and drumming on the window panes and seats. Daily carnival. The actual carnival in February runs three days in the rest of Brazil, here it goes on forever. Bahia the region, Salvador the city: special place.
If you ever go to Brazil be there and learn the history especially of slavery, art, music and get to visit the home ofJorge Amado, in Pelourinho, one of the biggest writers in Latin America born and raised not so far from where we are standing.

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Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Learning to Enjoy the Moments...












Jazzmoss album and lessons on The art of Being Here and Now.
Too many times we do activities thinking of other stuff. I do it all the time. I am in the thick of things; my mind wanders away, pondering over what I “should be” doing. I am chatting to someone over the phone; thoughts slither away to the dinner am going to have, a movie I shall be watching next week. We have to constantly remind ourselves to live the second, the instant, enjoy the moment. Zen.
This life.











And that was the lesson of Jazzmoss album release party. So many years have passed since I experienced so much harmony and tranquillity. Everything was so blessed and in sync that Sunday afternoon on October 14th 2007...
You come in through the quiet driveway past small trees and shrubs straight to Charlton House. Charlton is of course part of Greenwich, and for those overseas, we are talking of London’s Greenwich Meridian Time; the district.

Huge, ancient building that reminds you old is gold. Green mellow lawns. There is a lady outside checking her hat and she points at the door. You almost think you are in a church, a museum, a castle. Up there on stage Jazzmoss musicians are finishing off their sound check. Empty chairs. Gill is darting here and there making sure everything is alright. Gill Swan is part of Global Music Fusion and Arts an organisation that brings you dances, drama, music, arts and people of various colours and ages. Gill is one the friendliest person on earth. When the phrase, good woman was made, the creator had people like her in mind.


Gill also found time to sing with the band...

Her son, gentle, smart and immaculate as usual, is at the bar. Alex Swan is not only ready to serve wine and food, he will be taking photographs and filming. That is what Global Fusion is all about. M-u-l-t-i-f-a-c-e-t-e-d-n-e-s-s.
One hears that boring question all the time: “How do you do so many things?”
Global Fusion answers that question. Multi-tasking, multi-talented-ness is natural and normal here.

Kit-Drummer par excellence, Trevor Tomkins.

The tables are spread with bites, flowers and bottles of wine, ready for guests. The stalls behind are divided into two. One side is the almost ritual corner stacked with the sacred Jazzmoss album, photos of the musicians making it. People in labour. The labour of love. Other side? Racks of Global Fusion manuals, CD’s , leaflets, more photos and DVD’s. Global Fusion does it all.

The visuals, the sounds, the goods. They work in schools, with the neglected, in cultural centres; they run projects, make films and record albums. And like the word Global they are global. All races welcome here…whoa! Global Fusion compilation album, Global Fusion produced albums of songwriters like Algerian Rai musician Farid Adjazair.

Louisa and Kaz :their collaboration streered this album, with she writing the songs and him the music.

The band has finished sound checking and now each vanish, to have a drink, smoke or chat. Kaz Kasozithe Ugandan multi-instrumentalist musician, pianist and arranger of this album is now strolling around chatting to whoever in sight; calm and relaxed. This is microcosm of the music and the ebony genial musician embodies the spirit. Tito and his pal are fidgeting with the sound controls. The unknown but very appreciated pilots of music engineering. I have known Tito for years. Since the days of Bar Lorca, that Latin club.

Tito, Ghanaian musician and engineer, who has been on the London scene for ages.

Backstage, Louisa is a bag of nerves. Without Louisa Le Marchand our said event would not have been.
“I have been thinking about this album for thirty years.” She says her voice trembling with emotion.
Anyone who has done anything with passion; be it preparing a meal for friends, driving fast to reach a destination, rushing to meet a fresh date, starting a job, company or heading to a new country for the very first time, would recognise this feeling. If you are genuine you will be feeling apprehensive, concerned and anxious; words that describe honesty. Louisa is here not only as musician but producer and moment maker.

Mix and Henry from the dazzling wind section, which stands out brightly in the CD.

The band members are at the back too.
I can see Liran Donin, the jovial funky Israeli born bass player and Trevor Tomkins kit-drummer extraodinaire…there is also guitarist Michael Casswell in the company of Mix Amylo. He and her; she and him; him on strings, she on wind instruments help the melody section, steering Louisa’s singing and Kaz’s crisp piano.Henry Lowther trumpet player, is not absent either.
These guys are living legends of British jazz. Art Theman, for example, who is one of UK 's top Sax players has been playing since the 1950's and has worked with Jack Bruce, Alexis Korner as well Stan Tracey (best UK small group of 1995)not forgeting touring and recording with Charlie Parker's contemporaries, Red Rodney and Al Haig.

Art Theman in action while Henry Lowther waits for his turn...

Charlton House is suddenly filling up and the Sunday sunshine is painting the gardens and windows. Autumn leaves, October rhythm and blues, Champagne and Wine. Otis Redding must be smiling at us. Later when I say to people the wine was free, they go:
FREE WINE AND MUSIC?
Yes. Jazzmoss made it’s own quiet history, herstory.

Guitarist Michael Casswell here with Kaz after the fantastic gig.

Yes; now the place is filling up. People of all sorts; women, girls, boys, men, old guys, young guys; middle aged mammas teachers, models, fellow musicians, voyeurs, painters, jazz lovers, they are all here. I can see André Mathurin, the bass player from St. Lucia with Farid Adjazair. They are always talking music these two.
I am almost thinking Miles Davis has risen from his grave when I realise it is none other than Henry Lowther blowing the place away on his trumpet. The concert is in motion and people are munching and sipping wine and the sun is singing with the occasion. Oh Yes. “I sip Your Lips.”

I sip your lips, a taste divine
Heaven and earth, they are all mine
Your eyes shine bright, yes they do
Like crystal clear, excitement rides, happy tear.”

Reena (second left)with family and Gaz;their late brother Sukh, kit-drummer, amazing musician and fantastic person was a founder member of Global Fusion.
Alex Swan is busy filming; Kraw has just sauntered in, helping on camera as well. Kraw is the Capoeira artist, a young, robust cool, calm but energetic man from Uganda. His eyes spell danger and love at the same time; I am looking at him taking in the jazz with a stride. It reminds one of sun, jazz, coconuts, samba and bullets. (Capoeira, if you didn’t know, is a Brazilian martial art, disguised as a dance).

Kraw...

They are all here.
The music sifts in like dew drops. I have been present to newly released album promotion gigs and here and there you will hear people chatting, getting up to leave to the loo; things of the sort. Nobody leaves. They are all seated from intro to end. And encore. All I can compare this feeling is mornings. With it’s dew and wet grass sprinkling your sandals or bare feet. The best thing about Jazzmoss is it’s endless whimper, whisper, whim. Those musicians should advertise good wine. That drummer, Trevor Tomkins, should be watched by students and even experienced kit players with egos the size of mountains. Tomkins never fights with his kit, he is there to accompany the melody and rest of the team rather than fight or compete. What a team; what a day.


You can always tell which song went well with an audience. For Jazzmoss it is “Looking Back” which has the perfect combination: groove, mellowness as well as reflecting Louisa Le Marchand’s gift for song-wrtiting, poetry and prose. When she sings; the tension is gone, her bedroom, boardroom, living room, pecking soprano voice is a murmur; reminding us to always enjoy the moment.

When I look back there are so many things
That I find hard to remember
Where has the time gone and where will it go?
Where has the time gone and where will it go?
Cause there is love and hate, happiness
Bad things turning to good
And there is the long road that’s hard and wide
And being misunderstood…”



Visit www.jazzmoss.com Or ring Global Fusion Music and Arts for bookings and music products. Tel +44-208 8589497
/Mob. +44-7976-941435

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