Mali’s Trio Da Kali live in Stoke Newington Old Church

Mali’s Trio Da Kali live in Stoke Newington Old Church

Following a hectic array of interviews and live broadcasts including one from the Brownswood basement for Mali’s Trio Da Kali arrived in the Old Church on Stoke Newington Church Street as guests of the Nest Collective who dedicate their events to Folk & World music. The tiny church was packed with a cross generational audience, both sitting and standing. In the house was World Circuit don Nick Gold along with esteemed music journos like Neil Spencer, Robin Denselow and Val Wilmer. The recently released Trio Da Kali collaboration with the Kronos Quartet – ‘Ladilikan’ – has been a constant on this scribe’s turntable in recent times and it was down to the album’s co-producer, Lucy Duran, to introduce each member to the stage. Apparently, Da Kali means “to give a pledge” and in the case of this classical Trio that pledge is to a musical heritage which dates back to the court of the Mali Empire and Sunjata Keita in the 12th century.

In their native Mali, both the threat of Islamic fundamentalism on the one hand and the forward march of modern music on the other has virtually eradicated this classic trio format along with its repertoire. In 2017 Trio Da Kali is basically an endangered species. Trio Da Kali’s musical director and balafon player Fodé Lassana Diabaté is a long-time member of Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra. He has recorded with Salif Keita and Taj Mahal amongst others and on this night he proved himself a master musician who is capable of both dazzling and incredibly nuanced solos. He dropped the odd jazz lick – just to tease – and I wished my long time friend and vibes-man, Orphy Robinson, had been in the house to check him out. Bass ngoni player Mamadou Kouyaté is the eldest son of the instrument’s greatest exponent Bassekou Kouyaté, and he holds down the riddim in his father’s band Ngoni ba. If there was any diversion from the tradition it was this natty “bass-man”. While, on the one hand, his playing transported me across the Sahara to connect with the rhythms of the Gnawa, Mamadou also had a range of plucked and slapped licks that could have been inspired by Bootsy Collins. It came as no surprise to discover that he’s involved in the Bamako hip-hop scene. Centre stage was singer Hawa ‘Kassé Mady’ Diabate. She is the daughter of Mali’s greatest traditional singer, Kassé Mady Diabate, and the power, range and phrasing of her voice led Kronos’ David Harrington to compare her to the late queen of American gospel Mahalia Jackson. Armed with a small shekere to add or maintain a specific rhythmic pulse,to each song Hawa’s emotional and soulful voice washed over us and ancient griot songs like ‘Lila Bambo’ along with a re-working of ‘God Shall Wipe All Tears Away’, complete with Bambara lyrics, resulted is an elegant and most memorable evening of totally uplifting music.


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TWO NIGHTS: CHICAGOXLONDON – International Anthem Meets London’s Nu-skool @ Total Refreshment Centre ….

CHICAGOXLONDON – International Anthem Meets London’s Nu-skool @ Total Refreshment Centre in Stoke Newington, London.

Above: Ben LeMar Gay pic: Petra Eujane

This collision between Chicago’s International Anthem crew and a host of London’s nu-generation-nu-jazz innovators was guaranteed to throw up some magical moments. At the helm of this project was EZH’s Tina Edwards (formerly Jazz Standard) and Scottie McNiece of International Anthem and from what I could glean it was made financially more feasible through some of the visiting musicians also doing sets at other venues in the area. In fact, I first caught wind of this wider exchange when I read, via Richard Williams’ Blue Moment blog, that Tomeka Reid and Mazz Swift of the stellar string trio Hear In Now were also featuring in Roscoe Mitchell’s Art Ensemble of Chicago residency at Cafe Oto.

Above: Ben LaMar Gay image: Petra Eujane

While the ambitious CHICAGOXLONDON programme incorporated structured ensemble sets there also appeared to be a strong element of pure improvisation. That terrain seemed mostly to be occupied by innovative modernist and drummer Makaya MaCraven whose set would provide the final offering on each of the two nights. As with most TRC based events the crowd were tuned-in and supa- receptive. The first night gradually kicked off around a shape shifting set from urban griot Ben LaMar Gay of the excellent Bottle Tree who “DJ’d” adding cornet and single string “diddley bow” to the mix. We were then treated to a free flowing opening set from feisty Chicago based trumpeter Jaimie Branch who offered a taste of the skill level that our American counterparts are capable of – especially if they’ve been schooled the shadow of the AACM. Taking material from her appropriately titled ‘Fly Or Die’ LP she took us on an explorative journey where she was more than ably assisted by an excellent drummer of Puerto Rican origin and the sweet rapport between her bassist and the mesmerising cello excursions of a dreadlocked Tomeka Reid. One mighty moment occurred when both Branch and Lamar Gay suddenly appeared the midst of the crowd trading spirited horn licks while one Angel Dawid, elsewhere in the crowd, delivered sweeping and soaring runs on the clarinet. The bar had been set high.

Above: Jaimie Branch Pic: Petra Eujane

The next set arrived in the form of the mighty Theon Cross on Tuba, Nubya Garcia on tenor and Moses Boyd on drums. It was a stellar line-up with tantalising potential. Clearly intent on rocking the TRC Theon blew the house down. However, while this scribe felt that the trio didn’t quite gell the Comet Is Coming energy levels emanating from the stage had the crowd fully vibed. The final set of the night which featured Kamaal Williams on keys, Soweto Kinch on alto and voice and Makaya MacCravon drums also elicited a wave of high expectations. While the set didn’t reach the improvisational heights I’d envisioned the trio’s groove went straight to the dancing feet of a fellow scribe who was stood next to me – she simply informed me later, “That’s how the new generation bring it…”.

Stepping out in the night I was fired up and ready to return for another session the following night. I was not to be disappointed. First up came Hear In Now and that was a compositional and improvisational treat. These three bold women hunkered down onstage in close proximity to each other. They clearly “enjoy each others company” – as violinist Mazz Swift confirmed – and their music along with their explorative individual solos produced an unspoken, intuitive sense of communication and conversation. Who in the house could not love a ‘Prayer For Wadud’ – dedicated to the legendary cellist – or the reflective piece on their sad departure from Livorno in Tuscany – the home of bassist Silvia Bolignesi? All credit goes to the TRC audience who wasted little time in producing a hushed silence throughout the room. There was a lot of listening going down – both nights! I definitely needed to hear more from this trio and immediately snapped up a copy of their CD.

Above: Mazz Swift pic: Joe Lindsay

Pianist Ashley Henry and his RE:Ensemble posse followed and took us onto more familiar London terrain. This set progressed way beyond his ‘5ive’ debut EP/LP on Jazz Re:freshed and was joyously diverse. The excellent rhythm section of Dan Casimir on bass and drummer Eddie Hicks held it all down allowing Henry free range on keys while simultaneously providing a launch pad for some blistering solos from tenor-man Binker Golding. Add the vocals of Chemise Adams-Burnett and the spoken word of Anthony Joseph to the mix and you get the picture.

Above: Ashley Henry – pic: Joe Lindsay

The final set of the CHICAGOXLONDON sessions saw Makaya MacCraven united with Theon Cross, Nubya Garcia and Joe Armon-Jones and what a set that turned out to be. From the get-go Makaya was diggin’ deep ‘n’ funky pushing his collaborators to step into the affray. While Nubya smiled to herself, stepping to the rhythms, listening and reflecting, it was keys player Joe Armon-Jones who tugged his hair back and locked his vision – his focus – on the drummer opposite him. A mesmerising conversation unfolded and Theon Cross wasted no time in getting involved. The subtleties of his playing contrasted nicely with his set the previous night. He added both rhythm and textures that gave Nubya the opportunity to conjure up some of the most inspiring and engaging tenor solos of the whole event. Makaya is a powerful and inventive drummer whose lexicon draws on host of contemporary styles including ‘broken’ and drum’n’bass and both player and audience were taken on sweat inducing journey that maintained a thrilling but intense momentum. It was Makaya’s birthday, he was having fun and the result was epic.

Above: Nubya & Theon Pic: Petra Eujane

All the show’s were recorded and in the days after the session were chopped up and re-mixed to be presented a TRC DJ session on the Saturday night. I missed that but I suspect those tapes will surface in one form or another in the very near future. Can’t wait.

Above:TRC – The audience… The calm before the storm! Pic: Petra Eujane

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#SNC98 – Back On The Block but SOLD OUT! All gone!

#SNC98 – Back On The Block but SOLD OUT! All gone!

Firstly, apologise to all the peeps who check out this on-line journal as there’s been very few… hmmmm, Zero!…posts over the past period. Basically, I – along with Ian Swift – were deep in the shed (literally) putting together Straight No Chaser / #SNC98 and it finally dropped in September to an appreciative worldwide following – give thanx & praises! Basically, after a 10 year hiatus it was fun to put together… we have new scribblers and a posse of old hands along with esteemed guests… it juggles art and music and embodies a healthy political perspective that is hopefully attuned to these fucked-up times.

As it’s sold out we may post some of the stories here so watch out for that…

OK … if you missed this issue, the next one will be in February 2018. Don’t sleep on it.

Respek… pb

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The Hieroglyphic Being Experience LIVE – New Years Eve 2015/16

CAFE OTOproudly come with Release 100 (!!!)

CAFE OTO are supa-pleased to make the Jamal Moss non-stop 6 hour New Year DJ set available for FREE! Half the night came out as a double cassette dubbed "The Hieroglyphic Being Experience Vol. 1" last year, but they're all sold out now and the casettes didn't include that magical moment when Jamal dropped 'I Feel Love' and re-works it in his decidedly unique Chicago-acid-house-stylee.

The set is huge so Oto have split it half way to help with any bandwith issues. To get the whole 6 hour set go to the Cafe Oto shop and register and order your download! Marvelous.

I didn’t make to the actual New Years eve seshaaan but I did pass through the night after – January 1st / New Years Day – when he was joined by vibes-master Orphy Robinson (on numerous instruments) and Mark Saunders on drums. That mind expanding set is also available as a download for modest 6 quid from the Cafe Oto shop –

Thrilled to witness further excursions on this tip with Jamal joining forces with Shabaka Hutchings and Sarathy Korwar. Plus, nice to see Soul Jazz come with ‘The Acid Documents LP.

Respect to Cafe OTO for continuing stretching the musical boundaries.

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JUNE 8th: Strong And Stable My Arse… Jeremy Deller!

Thanks to Jeremy Deller!


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Kate Tempest meets kennardphillipps

Batter Them Down! JUNE 8th!!

Strong and stable into ruin
School-kids on the hunt for lunch
Cut the apron strings.
Least it keeps the bastards lean
And gets the scroungers off the couch.

Murdoch headlines; leeches for the letting of our bloodlust.
Blame it on the migrants suffocating in containers
Blame it on the muslims
Or whichever current favourite takes the weight of our collective rage
And keeps the nation safe.

Privatise and privatise in private, let the nurses burn
Along with every other resident who voices their concern
And yes divide the country
Into will they never learn
And will they never stop
Then bring the army out to guard us.
Saying those sick-hearted martyrs will not test our liberal values
Locked in the panopticon, we’re volatile and fragile.

Such stability.

Suicide’s increaseing
More rough sleepers
Ugly words in public places,
Fear and doubt
And all the racists have come out to show their faces.
Under May there is a gulf that separates
And seems to gape a little wider every day.
Now watch her prey on every tragedy.
Divide divide and frenzy up the nastiness,
The them and us,
The human cost
The heightened threat, we must be watched
Clocked and marked and kept and blocked.
If this is strength then we’re all fucked.
But give them an inch and they’ll set up shop.

I want to create a really hostile environment
Her words, not mine.

Poem by Kate Tempest written for MAY NOT exhibition


A banging exhibition by political artist duo kennardphillipps is being staged at Dadiani Fine Art on the eve of the general election. May Not is a raw visual response to the snap election by Cat Phillipps and Peter Kennard, who create photomontages that analyse war, free speech and the corruption of power.

MAY NOT features an installation of photomontages printed on The Financial Times and blank newsprint, propped up by a three-dimensional red graph which snakes throughout the gallery, spiking up to the ceiling, and extending financial market figures into a physical manifestation. The artists take hold of this graph and connect it directly to images that focus on the real-world impact of financial powerbrokers and the political elite.

One of the images features a grinning Nigel Farage, clutching a pint, emerging from Theresa May’s head, suggesting that the Tories have absorbed UKIP while another suggests the Prime Minister has reduced the NHS to rubble. In another image, the dispossessed are gathered outside the door of 10 Downing Street.

“MAY NOT is a powerful immersive experience, comprised of photomontages addressing current political upheaval and oppression.” Eleesa Dadiani

‘MAY NOT’ by kennardphillips

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First of all I’m not getting into a debate about this interview with Lloydie and his views on Rodigan… so I’m just going to say this once.

In my life as a writer and a devotee of reggae music I consider Lloydie Coxsone as one of my mentors. Coxsone sound system was the first big Sound that I heard back in the early Seventies. The place was the Jamaican Club in Gloucester and it blew my mind. Lloyd was the first person from the reggae music community that I interviewed. I was a follower (along with photographer Jean Bernard Sohiez aka Frenchie) of Coxsone sound system. We knew the team and understood the runnings – good and bad – having travelled with the sound numerous times. In fact, the words under this video look like my own.

I’ve read David Rodigan’s book and I suppose I’ve contributed to the media frenzy around it by reviewing it. You can read the review at The book is a lightweight affair that makes no real attempt to contextualise reggae music in the UK. It’s a book about the man himself. As such, I can totally understand why Lloydie – “representing 500+ sound system across the UK”- is more that vexed that “David Run’n’gwaan” has been touted as the godfather of reggae music in the UK. There’s no escaping the fact that the media – National TV, “quality” newspapers, music press, internet – the whole shebang – have been totally at ease promoting a somewhat offbeat white thespian as a saviour of reggae music while ignoring the people who ran the reggae record shops, indie labels and, of course, the underground sound system operators who toured the length and breadth of the country, week in and week out, from the 60s onward. They are the saviours of reggae music. They created the foundation that others profited from.

It’s therefore easy to understand that, from Lloydie Coxsone and his idren’s perspective, all the hubbub and press that surrounded the publication of Rodigan’s book is just another instance of life in racist Britain. Once again the Afro Caribbean people who actually created the music and promoted it within their community and way beyond it beyond are being written out of UK history – a history which should inform future generations and provide a basis for them to build on. Lloydie Coxsone’s own history says it all. He arrived in London from Jamaica in the early Sixties. He worked on the Underground and saved to buy his first amp. He worked for Count Suckle at the legendary Roaring Twenties in Carnaby Street and he went on create a cup winning sound system that was indeed the benchmark against all others were judged. Reggae music and Sound System are his life. For decades he dedicated himself to promoting and introducing generation after generation of Jamaican artists. How many amazing voices, lyrics, tunes, dubs… has Coxsone Outernational sound system introduced? Countless!

As Coxsone himself would say “a life in Sound System is hard” and, while there is increasing recognition of the role of Sound System in shaping UK culture today, the real story has yet to be told. Personally, I have no problem with David Rodigan. He is a knowledgeable and affable guy who, despite his somewhat offbeat theatrical antics in rarified world of international sound clashes, is primarily a talented broadcaster whose shows on BBC Radio London, Capital and KissFM were limited to the greater London area. So, whenever we talk about the evolution of reggae music in the UK and its pivotal cultural role in shaping the musical genres that hold sway among the youth of today – jungle, drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep, grime – credit needs to be paid to those who, for decades, paved the way.

Ask yourself one question, if a book was published tomorrow portraying Lloydie Coxsone’s Life In Reggae Music & Sound System – a story that shows the evolution of Sound System alongside the music (ska to dancehall) and also offers a deeper insight into the cultural resistance of the Afro Caribbean community and rise of Rastafari in the face of racist attacks and fire bombings, Police and SPG harassment and consistent marginalisation – would Coxsone be feted in the press and invited to talk about it on national TV? I don’t think so. And if that’s the case maybe we all need to reflect on that and ask ourselves, “What role can I play in this struggle for recognition – for truth and rights?”

Lloydie Coxsone – Sound Man

Paul Bradshaw – Straight No Chaser

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