Charles Lloyd – Arrows Into Infinity

Saxophonist Charles Lloyd is the focus of an award-winning new documentary film, Arrows Into Infinity, a collaborative work between Lloyd’s wife, painter and filmmaker, Dorothy Darr; and editor / filmmaker, Jeffery Morse. .


Charles-Lloyd-Love-INIf there’s one 60s horn player that I continue to vibe on it’s Charles Lloyd. His quartet of Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette and Cecil McBee was the first jazz group to play the Fillmore but in the 70’s he dropped out, burnt out, to pursue an inner journey in seclusion and retreated to Big Sur.

He briefly returned to playing in 1981 in order to introduce the world to the talents of pianist Michel Petrucciani. Following a near fatal illlness in ’86 he re-dedicated himself to the music and thankfully, since 1989, Lloyd has been releasing his deeply resonant and spiritual music via Manfred Eicher’s ECM records.

Of his live performances Swiss critic Yvan Ischer declares: “To see and hear Charles Lloyd in concert is always an event, not only because this saxophonist has been at quite a few crossroads, but also because he seems to hold an impalpable truth which makes him a thoroughly original musician…This is what we call grace.”

Winner of the 2013 Kansas City Film Fest Cinema Jazz Award, CHARLES LLOYD: Arrows Into Infinity has just been released on DVD and Blu ray but PLEASE… can someone organise a proper screening! Thanx!

EFG LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL November 2014: Charles Lloyd: Wild Man Suite @ The Barbican. It’s a new project that combines traditional Greek and Hungarian instruments with his own quartet.

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Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

Only the other day I was talking to friends about the protests in the States against police brutality and the militarisation of the police force and wondering why we’d heard so little from the hip hop community which, in 2014, wields hugely influential cultural and financial power.  Well, thanks to OK player I was introduced to Democracy Now! and as a result I’m a little more informed. Below are two stories they focused on.

First up is an interview done by As the protests continued in Ferguson, Missouri, over the shooting of Michael Brown, they hook up with two well-known voices who have come to Ferguson to show their support – Talib Kweli and Rosa Clemente. As on half of Black Star alongside Mos Def, Talib Kweli helped define the underground, conscious hip-hop movement that re-emerged in the late 1990s and since then he has remained true his chosen path while using his global status to champion political causes, including police brutality and the prison-industrial complex. Talib traveled to Ferguson with Rosa Clemente, a longtime activist, journalist, scholar, and former director of the Hip-Hop Caucus. Alongside poet Jessica Care Moore they experienced first hand the potentially deadly response of the police to what was essentially a peaceful demonstration by men, women and children.

Secondly, in the wake of Michael Brown‘s tragic death at the hands of Ferguson, MO police Lauren Hill posted ‘Black Rage’ on Soundcloud – “An old sketch of Black Rage, done in my living room. Strange, the course of things. Peace for MO.”

It’s based on the Sound Of Music’s ‘My Favorite Things’ (also a John Coltrane‘s standard!)… it’s lyrically powerful, the beats are raw, the kids are in the background… it’s an anthem dedicated to the victims of police brutality the world over.


Mo’ News:  In New York City, thousands attended rally on Staten Island for justice in the case of Eric Garner, the African-American man who died in a police chokehold last month. Here’s a report:


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Late Summer readzzz Pt. 2 The Lacuna + We Need New Names,

lacuna_orange_winner_jpg_280x450_q85I first read a review of this book when it came out in paperback and as I scanned the array of players involved in the story – Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Leon Trotsky and Natalia Sedova – I immediately thought I must read this. However, upon discovering that half of the book was set in the political and artistic mayhem of Mexico in the late 1930’s while the other half was set in a sleepy American backwater I just couldn’t imagine how the author, Barbara Kingsolver, could successfully maintain such a transition.  I therefore put it on the back burner which was pretty stupid considering it notched up the Orange prize and a stack of glowing reviews.

Well, I finally got round to reading The Lacuna  – which translates as a gap, as something missing… like an extended silence in  a piece of music-  and I’m sure that this story will resonate with me for a long time to come. It starts with a young boy Harrison William Shepherd – Shepherd – on the Isla Pixol, off the east coast of Mexico. It’s a tropical island, far from anywhere and is home to his mother’s lover, a Mexican industrialist. He follows his mother on her journey from lover to lover in search of the life she believes she deserves and left  to his own devices Shepherd retreats into his own world which he religiously documents in his journal.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Karhlo

Frida & Diego Rivera

Frida & Diego Rivera

In Mexico City he encounters now legendary artist Frida Kahlo and Shepherd enters a different world of revolutionary politics, artistic quests, fierce rivalries,  intrigue and danger. As Diego Rivera’s assistant he is at the heart of struggle. Shepherd travels with the famed radical muralist to the USA where ironically Rivera is commissioned to do a mural in the Rockefeller Centre. He lives in the same household as Rivera and Kahlo who readily accepts their home being fortified in order to play host to exiled Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia Sedova, who are being ruthlessly hunted by Stalin’s agents.

Natalia Sedova, Frida Kahlo, LeonTrotsky

Natalia Sedova, Frida Kahlo, LeonTrotsky

It’s an intense and compelling era in Mexican political and cultural history and Shepherd resides in its epicentre, right up to Trotsky’s  assassination. It’s that cataclysmic event that propels Shepherd, who gets a job escorting precious artworks, back across the border to the US. He retreats into small town America where he quietly pens a series of best selling Aztec novels. However, the dark shadow of McCarthy-ism and anti-communist paranoia reached into every corner of America and but despite Shepherd being an observer, as opposed to an activist, his past is destined to catch up to him.

The Lacuna unfolds slowly over 688 pages and Barbara Kingsolver’s deftly crafted tale draws the reader deep into this man’s story. There’s a lot of history in this book but the humanity is what shines through. Vivid and memorable.

Lauren &

Lauren Bacall (1924-2014) and Humphrey Bogart lead a march to the Capitol in Washington, DC to protest against Senator McCarthy’s witch hunt of communists and alleged communists, 1947

NO VIOLET BULAWAYO’S BOOKER NOMINATED ‘WE NEED NEW NAMES’ is another phenomenal  book that divides itself between two continents. Initially we are dropped into ‘Paradise’, a fictional shanty town in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe where Darling and her friends are “rushing… running… running and laughing and laughing,  and laughing…” and then we are then transported Detroit Michigan in the States where Darling is sent to live with her Aunt Fostalina and her Ghanaian Uncle Kojo aka “Vasco da Gama”.


‘We Need New names’ is a fierce but magical book and this Caine prize winning young author initiates the reader into the fearless world of a group of children who, armed their own scathing sense of humour and bold imaginations, create their own world within an adult world that is battered and disillusioned after the failure of Mugabe and Zanu PF to deliver “Change”. We encounter characters like Mother of Bones and Prophet Revelations Bitchington Mborro, join the hunt for guavas in “Budapest” learn the rules of games like “Country” and “Find Bin Laden”.

However, the feisty young Darling escapes the harsh realities of Zimbabwe and spends her teenage years in “DestroyedMichygen” where she grapples with teen life, celebrity and hip hop culture, with American excess and the ever present psychological stress that plagues the displaced. Her experiences are laugh out loud funny but it’s a life laced with tragedy, desperation and longing.

Like Alain Mabanckou’s excellent ‘Tomorrow I’ll Be Twenty’, which is set in the Congo-Brazaville and seen through the eyes of an ingenuous 10 year old kid ‘We Need New Names’ dishes up a raw, dogma-free, brutally comic, no holds barred vision that’s both energising and unique.

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Journey To The One with Nina Miranda & Adriano Adewale at The House Of St Barnabas

Journey To The One with Nina Miranda & Adriano Adewale took place at the House Of St Barnabas last week and they filled the Chapel with the multi-dimensional sounds of Brasil.

Nina Miranda  Pic: Richard Kaby

Nina Miranda Pic: Richard Kaby

The final session of the House Of St Barnabas’ summer jazz series was planned to promote a musical sensibility that spanned Brasil, Africa and London town. The first set on the night came from Nina Miranda and her Allstarbanda which featurd Ibibio Sound Machine percussionist Anselmo Netto and Ghanaian, former Osibisa guitarist, Alfred Kari Banaman alongside acoustic guitarist Mario Bakuna, bassist CH Straatmann and drummer Helder Pack.

The caheL

The Chapel

They’d been rehearsing hard and it showed. This was their second public outing and there was bunch of new compositions. It all kicked off with ‘Honey face’ which was dedicated to Anselmo who is clearly a big influence on this, Nina’s first solo project. The Allstarbanda was tight but relaxed and Nina fronted the whole session with a warm, airy confidence born of her experience of working both in the studio on array of projects and live with Da Lata. They dropped a loping reggae-fied version of Smoke City’s ‘Underwater Love’ where Nina deftly switched from Brazilian Portuguese and English – a definite asset that I can see her featuring in this rapidly evolving venture. After getting the audience to stand and shake their arms etc to relax she quickly realised it’s what people had wanted to do all along and basically, it all kicked off. Jorge Ben’s ‘Cavaleiro Do Cavalo Imaculado’ was a funky rhythmic delight and one could definitely say that the vibe in the Chapel was at times euphoric.

Pandeiro Clash! Adriano Adewale & Anselmo Neto Pic: Richard Kaby

Pandeiro Clash! Adriano Adewale & Anselmo Netto

Nina & her Allstarbanda were a hard act to follow but Adriano Adewale rose to challenge mesmerising us all with his skills on pandeiro and the sonic range of the global percussion at his finger tips. A little momentum was lost as mesmerising Senegalese kora player Kadialy Kouyate suffered from some annoying monitor problems but the quartet which also included flautist/saxophonist Marcelo Andrade and Bahian bassist Matteus Nova sprung back with a deep, impressionistic, rhythm driven journey that had my good friend DJ Debra fully immersed and clearly engaged in every moment. Equally fascinating was the duet between Marcelo on fiddle and Adriano on pandeiro, an exchange which had its roots in trip the to Scottish highlands where the fiddle is seen very differently from the classical world. It was a long night and as it drew to a close all agreed it was fitting end (for now!) in our Journey To the One.

For more on the charity / House Of St Barnabas check

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EMORY DOUGLAS: Free Palestine

Emory artwork

Great to see that Emory Douglas is still hard at work in his neighbourhood. Here’s a nice shot of the legendary revolutionary artist, who gave us the Black Panther Party’s most evocative artwork, standing next to his contribution to a new mural about the Palestinian freedom struggle that was recently unveiled in Oakland, California.

Photo by Henry Norr.

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CARNIVAL WEEKEND: JAZZ RE-FEST II kicks off at The Flyover in Ladbroke Grove.

Jazz Re Fest event_image

After the success of the 1st JAZZ RE:FEST last year, the Jazz re:freshed crew have answered the call to do it all again this year and the dynamic duo of Justin ‘TopRock’ McKenzie & Adam ‘Rock’ Moses predict another unmissable night!

Fresh from winning the status of an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation Jazz Re-Freshed plan to build a on decade of hosting the cutting edge of nu-skool live jazz. They have championed both upcoming and well-established homegrown bands as well as  showcasing influential international acts.  As a National Portfolio Organisation they take on responsibilities for developing touring, educational and digital work as part of their funding agreements.

The bar has been lifted and this year, JAZZ RE:FEST is set to be bigger, brighter & bolder with an ambitious and, as ever, innovative line up. Check the vids below!

Above: Moses Boyd’s Exodus – Parallax

Exploring the music of the diaspora and ancient philosophies Moses Boyd aims to bring all these influences in the exodus. Ranging from Coltrane to Cameo, the musical repertoire is vast and open. The band features longtime collaborators Theon Cross on tuba, Artie Zaits on guitar and Binker Golding on saxophones.

Above: United Vibrations- London Bridge ft. Conrad The Scoundral

United Vibrations are a band on a mission. They are a band in demand, a band on the rise and one of the UK’s hottest young talents. The spirit of punk and free jazz is alive and kickin’ in Deptford.

WHEN & WHERE Jazz re:fest takes place on Saturday 23rd August 2014 at The Flyover, Portobello Green (3 – 5 Thorpe Close, W10 5XL).

Doors Open 7:00pm – live music starts 8:00pm SHARP, with a 3am finish.

Grant Windsor’s Broken Big Band ft. OMAR & Special guests, including Vula / Diggs Duke (Brownswood) / Andrew Ashong / United Vibrations / Heidi Vogel (Cinematic Orchestra) /Moses Boyd’s Exodus + Dj’s – Daz I Kue (Bugz in the Attic) / Sarah Love

jazz-refest-2014-mix1THE MUSIC / LISTEN HERE:



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A few Late Summer Readzzz…. Part 1.

Straight after the SunRa100 at the House of St Barnabas I managed to vacate London for a much needed break and as I’m not quite psyched into owning an e-reader I predictably dragged along a case of stuffed with post birthday books.

Book 1First book to bite the dust was George Pelacanos’ ‘Drama City’ which I consumed in a few sessions. The DC based author comes with a new central character Lorenzo Brown who is fresh from an 8 years stretch in prison and is back in the neighbourhood but working as a Humane Security Officer policing animal abusers and protecting the abused. In ‘Drama City’ Pelecanos deftly shapes a cast of characters that are battling their own demons and as with all his books he paints a vivid picture of the DC neighbourhoods that he’s more than familiar with. There’s fine line between light and dark and Lorenzo’s determination to stay clear of DC’s street corner runnings is tested to the max. George Pelecanos’ was a producer and script writer for The Wire and while a couple of of his recent thrillers were a touch disappointing, I can vouch this is a return to form – vintage stuff. Even my 17 year old son, who has consumed just about every film and TV series on gangsta life in the US, proclaimed, “It’s not bad.”

Book 2On a very different tip, two books about contemporary London – John Lanchester’s ‘Capital’ and Bernadine Evaristo’s ‘Mr Loverman’. Firstly, Capital, this chunky tome homes in on south London street, somewhere around the Oval, which is subject to gentrification. Over a year or so, Lanchester gradually links together the lives of a dopy egregious banker and his wife, a Polish builder, a Zimbabwean parking attendant, a Hoxton based conceptual artist, and the Pakistani family in the corner shop – amongst others. Basically, it’s cleverly plotted but despite Lanchester’s attempts to create to create some form of tension via an Islamist connection and the mysterious anonymous messages/videos that drop through people’s doors demanding ‘We want what’s yours’. Basically, it’s a bit of a soap and the characters pretty vacuous and stereotypical. There’s no grit, no grime, no tension and no magic and that’s not the capital city I live in. It may be a best-seller but essentially it’s one to pass on.

Book 3‘Mr Loverman’ is also based in the capital and was indeed a pleasant surprise. The title comes from a Shabba Ranks classic and it’s a story based in the manor, my manor, Stoke Newington, where I’ve lived on and off since the mid Seventies. The hero of this tale is Barrington Jedidiah Walker, an astute, sartorially snappy dresser of St Lucian origin. Now retired after many years working in the Ford car plant, he enjoys a glass of rum and the company of his best mate from boyhood, Barrington. He’s raised two daughters and his wife, Carmel, has retreated into the church, weary and suspicious of his wandering ways. This is Bernadine Evaristo’s sixth novel and she warmly introduces us into Barrington’s world – one which at times reminds me of my late, long time, next door neighbour. While giving the world a taste how London’s West Indian community has survived and thrived she quietly she tackles some deep rooted myths and prejudices which provide an ambitious and surprising twist to down right life affirming story.

More to come in Part 2….

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