Master Liu Fengcai & Gao Yi Sheng BaguaZhang

baguazhangThe Cheng School Gao Style BaguaZhang is a chunky, 392 page book on Bagua Zhang and it’s a labour of love on the part of the students of the Master Liu Fengcai – a disciple of the legendary Gao Yi Sheng – both Chinese and from Vince Black’s North American Tang Shou Dao Association,

Over the years I have periodically dipped into the profound Chinese martial arts system of Bagua Zhang as a compliment to practicing taiji amd xing yi quan. Back in the day there was very little information on bagua zhang and very few people teaching it. Through a fellow taiji practitioner I was introduced to bagua zhang bible – the Pa Kua Chang journal – which, when you could get hold of a copy, gave an insight into the complexity of the art and it’s different branches as they have evolved from the practices of its founder, Master Dong Haichuan. He also introduced me to Ed Hines, a student of accomplished Taiwanese Gao bagua zhang martial artist Lo De Xiu (Yi Zhong school) and managed to do a few classes with him before he left to live in France.

Liu Feng Cai

Liu Fengcai

Over the years I’ve done classes and the odd workshop with bagua zhang practitioners like Marnix Wells who studied with Wang Shu Jin, Alex Kozma and Serge Augier (check the book Warrior Guards The Mountain) and Lo De Xiu – all of whom were also teaching xing yi quan. That said, while I remain fascinated by bagua zhang, I’ve never really progressed beyond the essential foundation practice of the circle walking exercises with their coiling and twisting actions which work on the soft tissue, tendons and muscles of the body. Still, in my view, all foundation practices are good and need to remain at the heart of one’s training.

gao Yi Sheng Bagua Zhang is daoist practice based on walking the eight trigrams of the I Ching but as this book on Gao Yi Sheng’s system explains, it uniquely has both Pre and Post Heaven practices (circular and linear) which in turn produces the famous 64 palms. Gao bagua zhang, according to Liu Fengcai, has five distinctions from other styles.

1. Post and Pre Heaven are trained separately
2. The Gao preserves all the original charactertistics of Bagua
3. The roundness is constant, whether still or moving
4. Gao emphasizes softness with hardness inside
5. The Pre-Heaven Palms are the basis of the Post-Heaven Palms

This book is loaded with personal insights and offers a lot of information on the evolution of bagua zhang via a report by Professor Kang Ge Wu who gives a detailed and well documented historical reconstruction of its origins. It give a breakdown of each of the Palms and also deals with living skills and “martial destiny”, essential principles, notes on the “animal” palms, internal training, weapons, combat theory and two person drills.

Basically, you can’t learn bagua zhang or any other martial art from a book, you need a teacher, but it’s a genuine treat being given access to these writings as, in the past, these kind of training manuals were kept within the school and only passed from teacher to senior student. So, Cheng School Gao Style BaguaZhang is a valuable addition to what already exists and it’s an important reference book to add to or start your bagua zhang library.

There are a growing number of teachers dealing with the various branches of bagua zhang in the UK but to find classes in Gao Style Bagua Zhang under the lineage of Lou De Xiu, Taiwan check:

Gao baguazhang manualAbove: The Chinese edition…. please note, the English edition does not have line drawings but photographic sequences.

The Cheng School, Gao Style Baguazhang Manual: Gao Yisheng’s Bagua Twisting-Body Connected Palm by Gao Yisheng and Liu Fengcai (Blue Snake Books)

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LOOSE BOOTY: Milford Graves & Joe McPhee + Richard Hell + James Nares’ ‘Street’ feat Thurston Moore

LOOSE BOOTY: Milford Graves & Joe McPhee + Richard Hell + James Nares’ ‘Street’ feat Thurston Moore takes place at Rubloff Auditorium, the Art Institute of Chicago on Thursday, March 13, 7pm.

Christopher Wool - Rome Exhibition

Christopher Wool – Rome Exhibition

This is a session! In celebration of Christopher Wool’s retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago, Wool and School of the Art Institute professor John Corbett have curated Loose Booty, an evening of performance at 7pm on March 13, 2014, at the museum’s Rubloff Auditorium.


Three distinct performances will range across film, literature, and especially music, dovetailing in various ways with Wool’s exhibition. James Nares’s 2012 film Street, which features a soundtrack by guitarist Thurston Moore, will be presented for the first time in Chicago, with Moore playing live with the screening. Writer and punk progenitor Richard Hell will read from his recent work, which includes the 2013 autobiography I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp. As a grand finale, groundbreaking drummer Milford Graves will play together with Poughkeepsie multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee for the first time, a major event in contemporary jazz and only Graves’ second appearance in Chicago.

Sounds amazing… hope someone records the Milford Graves – Joe McFee session. Damn. If you’re in Chicago, all roads lead to ….

Above: Master drummer – Milford Graves

Tickets are available online: – $25 per member; $30 per nonmember; $10 Students and S/AIC Staff and Faculty

Info thanks to

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Youth Consciousness : JA Xmas Day ’82

flyersJust found this tucked inside a file of vintage scribblings…. Xmas Day… Irie!

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A BIG WELCOME TO ‘BRASIL MUSIC EXCHANGE’, a brand new monthly online radio show dedicated to new Brazilian music and presented by my good friend and former Mondomix editor JODY GILLETT.

Jody Gillett

Jody Gillett

The 2014 FIFA World Cup guarantees the world’s eyes are set to be focused on Brazil this summer. That focus will continue right up to 2016 when the Brasilian people host the Olympic Games, and there’s no more knowledgeable and enthusiastic presenter than Jody to deliver this modern day musical exchange programme.

Though a little nervous about making her debut as a radio DJ on ‘Brasil Music Exchange’ she has no reservations about the music she’s presenting and says, “The music is great. Episode 1 is a World Cup City Sounds show, a track by an independent artist from each of the 12 World Cup host cities – Rio, Recife, Sao Paulo, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Natal, Manaus, Belem, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre, Curitiba and Cuiaba. So it’s an introduction to cover the whole country. From hip hop to indie rock to tropical pop via samba, ijexá, maracatu – the aim is to show the diversity of Brazil’s new sounds and give a new generation of independent artists a fresh platform.”

Karol Conka Photography: Mariana Zarpellon

Karol Conka
Photography: Mariana Zarpellon

OQuadro - The LP

OQuadro – The LP

Each subsequent show will focus on the music and artists from the 12 host cities and beyond, starting with Recife and Rio de Janeiro in March, Salvador and Sao Paulo in April, and Manaus, Fortaleza, Natal & Belem (Amazon/North) in May. ‘Brasil Music Exchange’ is produced by London based Folded Wing in partnership with Brasil Música e Artes, a non-profit organisation for the promotion of Brazilian music around the world and Apex-Brasil, the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency.

The show is available to listen to on Mixcloud, the Brasil Music Exchange website, the inflight entertainment system on British Airways and will be syndicated to radio stations across the world.




Karol Conka feat. special guest Lady Chann + Mr Bongo Brazilian Beats DJs
Thursday 3 April @ Concrete, London

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Moses Molelekwa RIP - photography: Peter Williams

Moses Molelekwa RIP – photography: Peter Williams

This homage to pianist MOSES TAIWA MOLELEKWA on Soundcloud came to me via the very excellent Chimurenga crew and it has been created by a most interesting Jo’burg DJ and cultural activist, Mma Tseleng. It was during the Straight No Chaser years that I got to know Moses. We were acting as consultants for Robert Trunz’s B&W/MELT label and in all the amazing projects that ensued he was a special, hugely creative force. Moses Molelekwa was 27 years old when he died in strange and dark circumstances. Like Bheki Mseleku, another mesmerising South African pianist who was snatched from us before his time, Moses Molelekwa remains much missed by those who knew him.

As Mma says of the man and his music, “The great pianist, Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, from Tembisa, South Africa, passed away from (his own hands? they say? but i digress) on 13 February 2001 on the eve of worldwide celebration of ‘love’. I respect this man, and his music touches me more than many loving hands that passed through me. Hope you all enjoy this mix of his music and others.”

Moses  - portrait by Peter Williams

Moses – portrait by Peter Williams

The death of Moses Molelekwa was tragedy and I give thanx to Mma for offering us this inspiring selection of music. Listen and enjoy.

Here’s the tracklist:

Moses Taiwa Molelekwa – Spirit Of Tembisa (Mama City Remix)
TKZee – Moses (Somewhere Up There)
Moses Taiwa Molelekwa – Finding One’s Self
Philip Tabane – Ngwana oyalela [a Prayer]
Tlokwe Sehume & Medu – Ba Utlwile
Moses Taiwa Molelekwa – Ntate Moholo (Grandfather)
The Cinematic Ochestra – Dawn
Moses Taiwa Molelekwa – Nobohle (live)
TKZee Family – Fella Kae
Moses Taiwa Molelekwa – Siya Modumisa

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Gilberto Gil - 1992 by Peter Williams

Gilberto Gil – 1992 by Peter Williams

PETE WILLIAMS PHOTOGRAPHY returns to ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL as a permanent exhibition.

“It’s always been about being on the move and living a transient existence. Saying Yes instead of No. Accepting an assignment and sitting on a plane a couple of hours later. If a door opened, I simply walked through without questioning why. That in turn has led to extraordinary meetings with a continuously changing backdrop and a never ending source of inspiration.”

If you are familiar with Straight no Chaser magazine you will be familiar with classic B&W portraits taken by Peter Williams and his now permanent exhibition in the bar in St George’s – the premier live music venue in Bristol – is well worth perusing and it’s definitely worth investing in one of his images. All his prints are beautifully printed and framed and are sourced from the photographer’s archive (1988 to 2005). The exhibition, like his Chaser Years show at the Maverick Gallery in Shoreditch, features a host of legendary musicians from across the musical spectrum Don Cherry, Joyce, Robert Wyatt, Randy Weston, Busi Mhlongo, Roni Size, DJ Shadow, Nitin Sawhney to name but a few.

IDJ Jerry - 1988

IDJ Jerry – 1988

Peter Williams’ association with St George’s started in 2008 with a show in the Crypt when he then supplied images for their vibrant ‘Migrations’ season. Skilled at sourcing locations which often provide an architectural or filmic narrative Peter is well known for working in a very direct way, with minimal equipment, a location and then shooting for no more than thirty minutes. He is a master of his craft and his relaxed and enthusiastic character is reflected in the photographic relationship he has with his subjects.

Joyce in Rio by Peter Williams

Joyce in Rio by Peter Williams

On a different tip, Peter also documented the first six months of the seminal Monday night club session That’s How It is at Bar Rumba. The club was fronted by Gilles Peterson and Mo Wax’s James Lavelle and despite a radical and seriously eclectic music policy is often credited as the birthplace of ” trip hop”. Peter images will appear in the forthcoming Mo’ Wax book Urban Archaeology and look likely to feature in an exhibition at this year’s Meltdown.

(Please note… I’ve always known Peter Williams as Peter… not Pete, so I’ll stick with that, otherwise it feels wierd.)

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Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin: Hustler’s Convention 40th Anniversary

Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin presented ‘Hustler’s Convention’ 40th Anniversary at the Jazz Cafe in London on Monday night and the “Godfather Of Rap” blew us all away – including the High Priest of P Funk, George Clinton.

Jalaludin Mansur Nuriddin

Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin- Photography: Siobhan Bradshaw

Despite the miserable weather, the Camden venue filled up rapidly with a diverse crowd of the faithful and the curious eager to experience a live interpretation of ‘Hustler’s Convention’ – a cult album that is arguably the head cornerstone of rap. Having been familiar with this album and Jalal’s other incisive and skillfully crafted offerings, as a founding member of The Last Poets,  I was more than happy to revisit Jalal’s mesmerising onstage rhyming skills. I was also keen to discover how the Jazz Warriors International and the MD for the project, Orphy Robinson, was going to recreate the musical setting and atmospherics that frame Jalal aka Lightnin Rod’s original journey into the hustlin’ life.

Malik & The OGs

Malik & The OGs Photography: Siobhan Bradshaw

There were a lot of faces in the house and the level of anticipation high. It was down to Liverpudlian poet and prime mover behind this project, Malik Al Nasir to open the set with a hand picked ensemble called the OG’s. Mentored by both Jalal and the late great Gil Scott Heron, Malik brought his own poetic life experience to the event and his no nonsense delivery came wrapped in the warm, versatile vocals of Cleveland Watkiss and Chantelle Nandi.

It was down to Jalal to lift it all to another level. At 70 Jalal projects serious gravitas. His dedication to Bak Mei – ‘White Eyebrow’ – gong fu and the healing arts of acupuncture make for a strong body and a clear mind. A shock of silver grey hair bursts in bunches from below his woolen hat; his eyes are hidden behind a pair of aviator shades.  He’s primarily onstage at the Jazz Cafe to perform an often misunderstood concept album, that was written four decades ago as warning about a “career” the hustlin’ life, but his own contemporary concerns about the future of mankind are clearly to the fore in his thinking.

I bought The Last Poets ‘This Is Madness’ LP at the dawn of the Seventies and had never heard anything like it. It was a shocking and challenging experience that truly conveyed the intensity of racial divide in the States. So, my initial meeting with Jalal back in Eighties was charged with expectation. If I recall correctly Jalal announced his presence in London via a phone call to Gilles Peterson’s Mad On Jazz radio show. We’d just started Straight No Chaser magazine and the Talking Loud & Saying Something Sunday afternoon session at Dingwalls was in full flight. Jalal became a face on the scene. He participated in one of the radical Straight No Chaser fund raising session at Dingwalls and also taught gong fu to members of the Young Disciples and Galliano.  We were in awe…. he was one of the Last Poets!!

However, on reflection, I don’t believe that we could fully grasp the depth of Jalal as an artist. His deep knowledge and waves of words were forged during the most turbulent era in post-war/cold-war America’s history – they were/are his weapons in an ongoing struggle. He was, in reality, a brother from another planet and we lacked the confidence and skills to create something potentially unique. As a generation, through an engagement with Black music and culture, we were being increasingly enlightened as to the reality of deep rooted racism in the US. In turn, that knowledge had to relate in practice to our own lives in the UK.  One thing’s for sure, Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin had an impact on all us and it was good to see him back on a London stage , a documentary crew in tow and an autobiography being worked on.  It made me think that maybe, hopefully, this is his time.

Dennis, Jalal, Cleveland

Dennis, Jalal, Cleveland – Photography: Siobhan Bradshaw

Jalal does nor speak kindly of today’s “candy rappers”. He rightfully remains bitter at the fact that his recordings, which are still on sale or now streamed on Spotify, have never delivered the financial rewards he is due. But through his craft, on this night, his lyrical ire is aimed at humanity as a whole… “mankind was given a little free will between a choice or a chance to build or kill”. He regaled us, over a bass driven rhythm, with a picture of mankind that is schizophrenic, avaricious, suicidal, genocidal, psychotic, idiotic, egotistic, sadistic… and on mission of self destruction. He dipped into his verbal vaults to analyse the symbols on a dollar bill and had George Clinton vibin’ on every word. In every action there’s a reaction and Jalal’s reasonings are an endless flow of rigorous observations and concepts punctuated by call and response style chants. It all comes together with tsunami like momentum and throws back in our faces the fragility of our planet and madness of our inactivity. There are hooks, from a stack of albums, that are ingrained in the consciousness of all those stood around me and it was impossible, for each and everyone, not to finish them off as they ricocheted around the room.

Ibo & Orphy

Ibo & Orphy Pic – Siobhan Bradshaw

Following a short breather in the set Jazz  Warriors Int. were back onstage and with it came that wah-wah-intro and familiar horn riff that paved the way for ” It was a full moon in the middle of June in the summer of fifty- nine….“. A deft change of tempo and we went from the man called Sport to his “ace-boon-poon” called Spoon. The band was kickin’ and tight, moving easily through the rhythmic shifts that words require. Cleveland Watkiss traded vocal licks and at one point looked like he ‘d gone to heaven. The band were clearly capable of mirroring the original soundtrack which featured a host of stellar musicians from Kool & The Gang to Billy Preston, Bernard Purdie and Cornell Dupree to Julius Hemphill and Philip Wilson. Both Ibo Shakoor and Rob Young of Gil Scott Heron’s Amnesia Express respectively held down the percussion and drum spots while Jonathan Idiagbonya sat in on piano. Dennis Rollins sublime trombone simply conjured the spirit of the JBs. Bass man, Tiago Ciombra, delivered every time as did Howie Gondwe on guitar. There was no need for those transitional ambient sounds that link the tracks on the album. With Orphy at the helm one track fused into another transporting us to the Cafe Black Rose where “you can cop a bag of reefer or scag or even some coke or hash” and onto the Hustler’s Convention itself where “there were pick pockets and dope peddlers, murderers and thieves… hi-jackers , bootleggers, bookies and the mob: and anybody else who had ever killed, cheated or robbed.”

Just as Jalal’s narration took us into the Hamrock’s Hall and into the heart of the Hustler’s Convention he decided to ask those assembled if they’d mind if he saved the rest of the story for another day. Weird as it may seem, no one was going to object. We’d already witnessed a next level performance from both Jalal and the musicians. Having read all the lyrics on Hustler’s Convention, I was totally impressed that he could memorise as much as we got to hear…. so, yeah, part two… bring it on… and we can get to that conclusion where, on Death Row,  Sport admits ” It took me 12 years of my time to realise what a nickel and dime hustler I had really been..”

It was an extraordinary night and now look forward to Jalal’s promise of both a ‘Hustler’s Detention’ and a ‘Hustler’s Ascension’ along with the film which, with the support of Public Enemy’s Chuck D, is due to premiere at The Smithsonian in DC sometime later this year.


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