I’m writing from Brazil, in a flow of concerts, events, and ceremonies with beautiful musicians and other kindred souls. Last week I had an encounter with two wonderful musicians in the Floresta dos Unicórnios outside São Paulo; Guilherme Alves (in the picture) and Antonio Arvind, playing shakuhachi with 7-string guitar, atma pantam and kalimba. We spontaneously recorded two pieces in the deep of the night. Towards the end of the second track you can hear a chorus of peacocks that were in the forest right outside the Oca where we played. Guilherme and Antonio are from the Rio-based group PazCiência, bringing together yoga, sound healing and shamanism. More projects with them in the pipeline …Listen to Magos da Madrugada I Listen to Magos da Madrugada I
Singing With Nightingales
In May I had the privilege of taking part once again in the Singing with Nightingales series with Sam Lee. This time in the deep of the night in Highnam Woods, Gloucestershire. Only the sound of my shakuhachi with Sam’s shruti box and a lone nightingale singing his heart out to the night … I had an extraordinary experience – the more i played with the song of this enchanting bird, the more time seemed to slow down, and the melodic phrases seemed to reveal their inner intricacy in a way that felt like an initiation into the inner kingdom of the nightingale, and then, through him and his song, as a portal into the inner world of nature herself and the very fabric of life. It was an almost shamanic feeling of penetrating the veil of existence, the dimension of melody as metaphor for something beyond sound, in the world of spirit … and so much information coming through in the silences between the notes … a truly mystical experience.
I recorded some of the music that night and created two tracks.
I’ve added these to my ‘Kindred Souls’ playlist on Soundcloud where I archive some of the musical collaborations with great musicians I encounter on the path, and there can be few greater than this nightingale and his enigmatic melodies of endless nocturnal lyricism.
In May of this year a special evening gathering called Transfigured Night took place in Rattery Hall near Totnes. This was the realisation of a long held dream … to bring together a group of amazing musicians and singers to share medicine songs and devotional chants with my local community, and with the emphasis on participatory circle singing held in a quasi-ceremonial mood.
The next Transfigured Night gathering will take place on October 5th.
There will be a chai café open throughout the evening, and the audience can feel free to join with the singing, to dance or move, or to lie down and journey with the sound. The focus words for this event are Community – Flow – Shanti Vibes – Nurturing Heart Space.
My series of solo shakuhachi concerts continues, and will reach several countries this Autumn, including Holland, Germany, Czech Republic and South Africa. In Prague I shall be performing at the International Shakuhachi Festival where I am also one of the lead tutors, and in Cape Town I shall be sharing an evening of Stillness and Devotion with Elahn Keshava, Kirtan master from Shekinashram in Glastonbury.
Summer festivals include playing at Shambala with cellist Matthew Barley, at Spirit Fest with kora player Ravi, and at the Four Winds Festival on Dartmoor with Hiroki Okano and Nigel Shaw.Upcoming Events
Lotus Rising with Ayla and Michael
Work on the Lotus Rising album continues to progress. I’ve had the great good fortune to have Ayla Schafer in the studio several times over the past few months helping with vocals, and also the magical musical touch of Michael Stanton. All 50 songs are now recorded in basic format, and following some instrumental overdubs and a lot of mixing, we are still aiming to finish the album by the end of the year. Sample tracks can be heard here.
Ayla recently released a new video of her beautiful song Vuela con el Viento, which features my shakuhachi playing.Watch 'Vuela Con El Viento'
We Are The Moon People
The first song in this playlist, Magic Moon is one that I wrote with a class of schoolchildren in Northumbria back in 2001, all the others are from the Song of the Eternal Heart book, mostly taken from the live album of this name, and with a few extra songs that are ‘cover versions’ recorded by schoolchildren in France and Australia.
I’ve heard over the years from many friends who are mothers of young children that certain of the songs from my Song of the Eternal Heart collection have become popular with the young ones, and related to this I’ve had requests to put together a playlist of the favourite children’s’ songs, and so I’ve finally got round to doing this.
*Painting on the header: Dartington Sunrise, by Noriko Moonbird.Listen To The Playlist