I wish to share some new music from my travels.
Music is such a universal language. Everywhere I’ve been and travelled music continues to lead the way and open the way… encounters with musicians from different traditions and communities around the world … meetings with kindred souls … spontaneously connecting in the heartstream of melodic flow …
The tracks in this playlist were recorded spontaneously, outside of any album or other recording project, either Live in performance or in a garden or forest or in someone’s room… most of the music is improvised… precious moments of natural connection.
River of Stars (dedicated to Arro, Fiona, Aloha) & Isra
In February 2018 I travelled to Australia for the first time, where, In Mullumbimby, I met a sweet soul, a fellow musical traveller, by the name of Amir Paiss. Amir plays the Persian santur and he was co-founder of the internationally acclaimed Hebrew-Arab world music ensemble SHEVA.
Amir and I played an impromptu evening of music together at a house concert in Byron, then a few days later we decided to meet late at night to make an outdoor recording, taking advantage of the balmy, warm evening. We set up some mics in Amir’s beautiful hillside garden under a starry sky. There was no audience – just the moon, the stillness of the trees and the sounds of the night …the chirruping of the insects in the background adding another dimension as they seem to be weave into the music. We played deep into the night, and from those recordings come these two tracks River of Stars and Isra, which is a Sufi term for the supersensible and interdimensional travel by night.
When I played Amir the edited and mixed pieces, months after the night we recorded it, he wrote me “It does sound so natural, flowing, sounded like the landscapes of Persia and Japan met – through Israel and England… I could hear how we truly met, and exchanged ideas and moods and feelings, I could hear how the creative flow was supportive of us and us supportive of one another. It touched me deeply, also recalling the beauty of the night itself.”
Recently a friend of ours, still a teenager, took his own life. This has caused shockwaves through our extended community. His mother is a very dear friend of ours, and she in turn is deeply beloved by many as a wise and compassionate woman. In the midst of this tragedy I’d like to dedicate the piece ‘River of Stars’ for Arro, Fiona, Aloha and all those in need of some stillness and peace in this dark night of the soul.
Deep Space Blue
This track features the Japanese musicians Esoh (didgeridoo) and Ema (voice/erhu) from the group Yurai. In March 2018 I met with Esoh and Ema for the first time in over 20 years; we did a lot of music projects back when I lived in Kyoto in the 1990’s. It was so special to meet them after so long and to find the same easy flow through listening and playing together. Deep Space Blue was the opening piece at a concert we gave in Kobe. The deep vibrations of the didgeridoo open to a depth of connection feelings of eternity, in friendship as in time and space …
Also while in Japan in March, I played a concert with Hiroki Okano, Kenji Mikami and Shree Katsura at the legendary Royal Horse Jazz Club in Osaka. An amazing evening of inspired music for shakuhachi, bouzouki, percussion, didjeridoo, Native American flute and voice.
After setting up for the gig I noticed on the wall of the club among all the photos of the jazz greats that played there over the years, a signed photo of my teen idol, Canadian Jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, who played on the same stage many years before. That gave me cause to reflect on my musical journey of the past 40+ years; Maynard Ferguson’s Screaming Blues was actually the first album I ever owned, going back to when I was just 12 years old in 1974. Playing at the Royal Horse was a wonderful evening, sold out, with a great sound system and super-appreciative audience. We had some lovely moments of stillness.
A Turkish friend called Tao came to stay. He carries many beautiful melodies from the Sufi tradition. We spent an evening singing and playing together, out of which came this piece for solo shakuhachi. It combines a soft, slow introduction with a shakuhachi version of a Sufi melody. Tao suggested the name Yakamoz for this shakuhachi piece – it means the lights that glow like galaxies in the water when you swim at night on a special kind of summer night. The sufi melody is Hak Şereli written by Nadir Şen.
This piece came from an impromptu session at the studio of Hiroki Okano in Osaka, where I found myself making music with Japanese balafon player Yao just a few moments after meeting him for the first time. We called the track April Fortune as it was in April time and the air was filled with cherry blossoms and with a feeling of beauty and abundance.
You can listen to the entire Playlist on Soundcloud here