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The true spirit of music seems to live in the 'hear and now'...

Greetings all!
Sitting here in the middle of our South African winter...makes one appreciate this absolutely stunning part of the world that we call home. It' also the season of more recording activity and less live shows...at least that's how I plan it each year. So it is that I find myself working on various new collaborative albums...projects where I luckily get to work with some cutting edge musicians (the ones with the scars to prove that's where they've been hanging out!)...yeah sometimes it feels just like Hendrix's 'Dolly Dagger...she drinks the blood from a jagged edge!' ..but whichever way one looks at it, the business end of the 'music lathe' or 'plough' is, no doubt, it's cutting edge. Hard on the heels of the 'cutters' come the industry bandwagon planters with their genetically texturised and modified seed copies of the original.....and hard on their heels are a motley flock of seed stealing twittering birds.

So why do we continue with this almost predictable cycle of events?....simply because the true spirit of music seems to live in the 'hear and now' rather than any tried and tested preset-instant-mass appeal-formula....noodles with flavouring sachét! I stand under correction (or tippex!) but I think it was Zappa who said 'If music be the food of love....prepare for indigestion!..' No I don't claim to be a master 'chef' when it comes to cooking up something musically, but I think half the fun is dreaming up some new recipes with nutritional substance...... and the other half is in the eating (a truly communal affair) and the down to earth boogie woogie of it all as it unfolds live.

Well the menus are being put together for some tastebud kicking stuff:....there's the new album from the VIVID AFRICA project of McCoy Mrubata (saxes, flute) and myself (oud, nylon guitar, bouzouki) that features the amazing talents and input from Ashish Joshi (percussionist extraordinairé...tabla, darbuka, zarb, djembe, toys), Mlungisi Gegana (upright bass), Wynand vd Walt (drums) and Siya Makuzeni (trombone and vocals). This project is a celebration of the rich diversity of the sounds of Africa all played on acoustic instruments with emphasis on strong rhythmic structures....then there's the new STRINGS&SKINS album...featuring the duo of myself and Ashish on a whole pile of traditional instruments....including bouzouki, sarod and oudtar (a Mervyn Davis innovative hybrid of a guitar and arabic oud). Leading the pack, so to speak, is the JazzZombies first album which should be completed within the next few weeks..These guys are wicked, mischievious adventurers in the field commonly UNKNOWN as 'jazz'...their point of view being that 'jazz aint dead it just walks funny!' and they are:..myself on guitar, Kevin Davidson (sax), Hugo de Waal (guitar), Lanie vd Walt (bass) and Jorik Pienaar (drums). There's also an amazing remix 'dance album with a difference' nearing completion.. of the STRINGS&SKINS 'Passages in Time' album. Ofcourse this will be performed live with an appropriate line up.
DJ CHRESOS is the creative force at the remix workbench and I believe that his visionary work on this album will set a benchmark and serve as an inspiration for others in the dance genré.
That sure sounds like a busy time and I did'nt even include fishing (not phishing!) or upcoming concerts and tours of Namibia and East Africa and other projects such as writing music for a feature film. Actually if one looks at any of my colleagues of the 'cutting edge clan' (to which I humbly aspire), one would find a similar scenario...creative survival ...work hard/play hard...just enough money...no sellout...take no prisoners - just friends!...and ofcourse loads of fun and spirit!

While writing this newsletter I got separate calls from three well known and respected musicians, each with an astounding CV and track record who, besides having produced albums of their own for big record labels, have played on and produced albums for other big names on the SA scene. This is where the crunch comes in.....each brother had phoned to find out if I was a bit more fortunate thismonth and if I could lend them some cash to help out till the next show/concert/recording/festival. Hard to believe or accept...I immediately felt a deep sense of identity and belonging....one family living on the cutting edge of hardship and creativity...helping each other out and sharing the joy. The next call was from anutha brutha who was having a particularly good run of fortune....this month... and working hard at building on this without agent/promoter input!
So next time someone asks "what's cutting bra?" it will certainly have a whole lot more meaning to me..(including the fishing!)
Adventure!
FUN&SPIRIT!