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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TALKIN’ ALL THAT JAZZ: Millions of sounds to keep you up when you’re down….

Talkin’ All That Jazz: Millions of sounds to keep you up when you’re down….

Tamar Osborn -In The Studio /The Search : Pho- Gavin Mills

Tamar Osborn -In The Studio /The Search : Pho- Gavin Mills

Musically, the summer of 2017 is looking good. Very good! Especially when it comes down to the emergence of an inspiring new generation of powerful young women players. It was impossible not to feel inspired following the most recent sold-out Church Of Sound session. Sadly, I missed most of the first set where Collocutor paid tribute to the works of Yusef Lateef but the second set, which took us through the whole of their forthcoming album, ‘The Search’, took us on a memorable and mesmerising journey. Led by baritone saxophonist/flautist Tamar Osborn the Collocutor ensemble featured two horns, trumpet, two percussionists, contra-bass and electric guitar and the combinations morphed and changed in a wonderfully democratic fashion as the set evolved. The rapt attention of the fresh, young audience encircling the ensemble was punctuated only by the odd, spontaneous, burst of mid-solo appreciation. According to Pete from On The Corner ‘The Search’ is set to drop in the next couple of days and it will hopefully pave the way for a whole series of live sessions.

Collocutor: Live @ Church of Sound

Collocutor: Live @ Church of Sound

Talking about LIVE sessions – following on from Shabaka & The Ancestors bustin’ loose at NYC’s Le Poisson Rouge in January, London’s nu-jazz generation are currently poised to dent this year’s SXSW Music Festival in Texas – one of the largest and most influential global music industry events of the year. After 18 months of hard work and endless meetings Adam Moses and Justin McKenzie have just announced that Jazz:refreshed is curating and organising the official British Underground Jazz Re:freshed Showcase at SXSW and it will feature Moses Boyd’s Exodus, Yussef Kamaal, Shabaka Hutchings, United Vibrations and Native Dancer. Add to that crew special guests Go Go Penguin and Sarathy Korwar (thoroughly enjoying his evocative and multi-layered album on Ninja Tune) and we have a boundary breakin’ line-up that is guaranteed to create a rumpus.

Sarathay Korwar - Day To Day LP

Sarathay Korwar – Day To Day LP

Following on from Shabaka’s appearance at SXSW the saxophonist and his South African brethren hit the road in March. Along with a hugely anticipated Jazz Cafe/London performance they will be traversing the whole of Europe. Personally, I don’t think I’ve fully recovered from the Shabaka & The Ancestors playback and Q&A (thanx Teju) – way back when – when Shabaka told the story of how he’d excluded the piano player from the rehearsals and also put him in a separate booth during the recordings in order to get him to respond in totally spontaneous way to the music he was hearing. Deep stuff. Powerful album!


Another live session I was fortunate to check was Nérija at the Total Refreshment Centre. Following on from a discussion between the band members and journo/broadcaster Erica McCoy the ensemble – which consists of mostly women musicians – took the floor to deliver a tight, energised set that was built around the self penned compositions on their brand new 5 Kickstarter funded track CD. Packed to capacity the standing only crowd surrounded band in a tight semi-circle and were fully engaged with an feiry front line of Sheila Maurice-Grey on trumpet, Cassie Kinoshi on Alto, Nubya Garcia on tenor and Rose Turton on trombone. Shirley Tete bubbled away on guitar and drummer Lizzy Exell had feet shufflin’ and heads noddin’. How could you not buy the EP after that?



The female-led 7 piece Afrobeat ensemble Kokoroko – “be strong” in Urhobo – is another crew to watch out for. They join Yaaba Funk at the Jazz Cafe’s tribute to William Onyeabor – Atomic Bomb – on the 3rd March!

On a slightly, different tip, though staying live I suggest you put Freedom!The Art Of Improvisation in your diary for the 13th March. It’s hosted by Orphy Robinson, Cleveland Watkiss and Tori Handsley – I play the tunes between sets – and its at the Vortex in Dalston. Basically, it’s pure improvisation…no standards…and it consist of varied combinations of amazing musicians who happen to be in the house and up for the journey. Sadly, the next session collides with the Ezra Collective’s tribute to Dave Brubeck at the Jazz Cafe – but hey, different strokes for different folks!

Watch out for a forthcoming album from the “Freedom!” session’s resident space cadet and harpist (pedal & electric) /pianist Tori Handsley. Her “trio” includes the mighty Moses Boyd on drums, electric bassist Ruth Goller and vocalist Sahra Gure .. it’s recorded… so, next up… the mix!

Tori Handsley @ Freedom! Photo: Steve Cropper

Tori Handsley @ Freedom! Photo: Steven Cropper

astral-weeks-sqWHOOPS… nearly forgot an amazing project I’ve been involved with since day one with Colm Carty!… Orphy Robinson’s wikkid Third Eye Ensemble who take on the quest – the serious challenge – of interpreting Van Morrison’s classic, majestic ‘Astral Weeks’. This is an essential session taking place in the shadow of St Patick’s day – don’t let it get lost amid all the album cover sessions that are dropping at the moment. The Ensemble is … Orphy Robinson – Vibes-Marimba / John Etheridge – Guitar / Rowland Sutherland – Flute / Justina Curtis – Keys / Dudley Philips – Bass / Mark Mondesir – Drums / Kate Shortt – Cello / Joe Cang + Sahra Gure – Vocals. NICE!

“If I ventured in the slipstream between the viaducts of your dreams…”

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DAVID RODIGAN – A Life in Reggae: “Roddy! You A Dubwise S’m’ody!”


DAVID RODIGAN’S My Life in Reggae illuminates the journey of the thespian, broadcaster and cup-winning dancehall sound clash veteran.

David Rodigan and I are the same age and though we developed a passion for the music of Jamaica via slightly different trajectories we, for a number of years, travelled parallel paths. When David Rodigan arrived on the air via BBC Radio London waves I was scribbling articles on roots reggae for whoever would print them. Occasionally, I would make the journey to an open air market in Clapham Junction where John MacGillivray and Chris Lane ran a stall to supplement the cultural life-line that was the excellent Dub Vendor mail order, and I believe it was there that I first became aware of this devotee from Oxford.

In ’78, without Rodigan’s knowledge his girlfriend wrote a letter of application on his behalf applying for a position at BBC Radio London left vacant by their ‘Reggae Time’ presenter, Steve Barnard. To his amazement he got an audition and on the back of his 15 minute tape secured a job share with Tony Williams, a Jamaican who was also presenting a Soul show. The pay was £12.50 each! For me, as a regular listener to their show Rodigan – as a selector – always had the edge. It was his time – it was post punk, Rock Against Racism was on the move against the National Front and a militant new generation of UK Rastafari orientated reggae artists like Aswad, Steel Pulse, Black Slate, Cimmarons and Misty In Roots emerged to compliment the mainstream break through made by the JA vanguard of Bob Marley and The Wailers. Alongside the roots scene, certain sound systems like Sir George were building a following for what became known as Lovers Rock and the national chart success of artists like Janet Kay added fresh momentum to David Rodigan’s broadcasting and journalistic career.

King Tubby & David Rodigan

King Tubby & David Rodigan

On his first trip to Jamaica in ’79 with fellow enthusiast and photographer Dave Hendley he not only cemented a relationship with sound system and dub master King Tubby but also encountered cult JBC broadcaster Michael Campbell aka Mikey Dread – “The Dread At The Controls”. From my perspective, Mikey Dread, in terms of his jingles and use of dub plates, re-defined what could be done as a radio DJ – if you want a taste of that touch down on the ‘African Anthem’ album that Dave Hendley released. Without doubt Mikey Dread’s approach to broadcasting had an impact on how Rodigan was to construct and structure his own shows. Sadly, the book reveals that Rodigan’s relationship to Mikey Dread eventually soured leaving a particularly bitter taste. The musical community that Rodigan was engaged with had a potentially volatile dimension to it. For example, he clashed with the sound system operators who didn’t like him playing advanced dub plates – which traditionally they would have aired first – on his show. A threatening and potentially violent scenario emerged when the so called Black Music Protection Squad produced flyers showing the DJ with a noose around his neck while accusing him of “the Rape Of Black Music”.

It’s therefore not surprising that the DJ/broadcaster and his co-author Ian Burrell prefer to move rapidly through these years. My Life In Reggae is an easy read. In fact, I’d say it’s lightweight from a literary point of view. If you are looking for genuine depth and writing that is evocative of the places and scenarios he’s experienced you might be disappointed. I notched up two thirds of the book in a couple of days while gaining a somewhat matter of fact, surface-like impression, of his life as broadcaster, club DJ and actor. The man has trod the boards of the theatre, worked with a Toucan in a Guinness TV ad campaign and battled Doctor Who as Broken Tooth. He moved from Radio London to Capital Radio – where presented the legendary Roots Rockers Show – and eventually found a musical home for 22 years with the dedicated crew of former the pirate radio station Kiss100 FM before finally landing back at BBC 1Xtra.

Rodigan - live & direct!

Rodigan – live & direct!

It has to be said that in recent times I’ve met many a person who came across David Rodigan for the very first time on You Tube in a sound system clash. Inevitably they came away both bewildered and confused. “Who is this white guy?” they asked. They were not sure whether to be embarrassed or entertained. Fortunately, for the readers of ‘My Life In Reggae’ the book is at its strongest when he moves into the realm of the sound clash. It’s here we find Rodigan at his most enthusiastic. We actually get a deeper insight into his approach, into his role as an entertainer and musical selector. The sound clash for him is pure theatre – you win some you lose some. But in reality he wins more than he loses. He is an edutainer. His knowledge of the music is deep. Having dallied in the world of reggae music myself I freely admit to being in awe of his ability to craft a show that can win over a musically and culturally sophisticated audience whether in Kingston, Bermuda, Brooklyn or London. He can compete with supa-skilled sound system operators like Stone Love, Killamanjaro or Mighty Crown and at the end of the day can still lift that cup! David Rodigan is a phenomena and as this biography comes to a close it’s clear that the somewhat reluctant self publicist remains as enthusiastic as ever about both the roots of the music that inspired him as a teenager and its natural evolution in the UK via jungle, drum & bass and dubstep. His role today is as an musical elder but there’s little doubt that when he steps behind those turntables and picks up the mic he seriously enjoys himself… “In January 1979, I took my first trip to Jamaica and met King Tubby, Bunny Wailer, Big Youth, Gregory Isaacs and Marcia Griffiths….. ”

Rodigan, Scratch & Blackboard Jungle

Rodigan, Scratch & Blackboard Jungle

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Volatile Times: The Year OF The Fire Rooster

As we were going through our regular early Sunday morning training session in the Ba Me Da Xuan tradition in a misty Clissold Park I couldn’t help my mind wandering to the turbulent year ahead. I’ve long been a fan of Ted Mancuso and Debbie Shayne at Santa Cruz based Plum Publications and their comprehensive annual Chinese Astrological analysis by Narrye Caldwell is always a splendid read. As this year looks particularly volatile and we could all do with a little guidance I couldn’t resist reprinting it here, making it available to all those who feel that Ancient To Future connection – despite it saying that, as a rabbit, I should basically run for cover and hide in 2017!


fire-year-of-the-rooster-20161229-02_c82eb22dc85643119edbd68b20a19707YEAR OF THE FIRE ROOSTER – January 28, 2017. All Chinese wisdom traditions, including medicine, divination, astrology, and feng shui, are systems of pattern identification that guide us in adapting gracefully to change. A world in flux is assumed; it is the one constant feature of life. Astrology is best viewed as a tool to discern where we are in the shifting cycles of time so we can adjust our expectations accordingly and therefore, from the Chinese point of view, cultivate longevity by not wasting our qi trying to swim against the current.

Last year’s current schooled us all in crisis management as the Fire Monkey’s erratic impulsiveness and dramatic flare produced an unprecedented bit of theater in American politics.
(Yes, Monkeys love to play spin doctor in the political arena.) But as writer Isak Dinesen once said, “Anything in life can be born, as long as it can be seen as part of a story.” Fortunately, a new chapter of the story is about to begin with the arrival of the Fire Rooster on January 28, 2017. This chapter might be titled: “Application: how to walk your talk and follow through.”

In the Chinese zodiac the Rooster is the tenth of the 12 animals. It is associated with the Metal element which correlates to the time in autumn when qi condenses and the life force turns inward, right before sinking into the stillness of winter. So Metal expresses the essence of a thing with perfect clarity. Think of a tree in autumn, stripped of its foliage, its true shape so cleanly visible. People born in the year of the Rooster tend to be focused, task oriented, ambitious, confident, and very clear. This latter quality is what gives Rooster people their reputation for being abrupt and tactless. But it’s a mistake to consider them rude. Rather, Roosters just see things clearly and are decisive in their assessments. They are what we might call “plain speaking.” They also can be incorrigible critics, lacking the patience required to wait for others to come around to the clarity which comes so readily to them.

When you couple these qualities with the Fire element, you have an interesting potential for drama. Fire is erratic, intense, passionate, expressive, and dynamic. Fire embodies the warrior archetype. Fire Roosters tend to be brave, powerful, unyielding, opinionated, and determined. And in the Chinese Five Element cycle, Fire controls Metal. So the image here is of a sword tempered in a forge—sharp, strong, and dangerous in the wrong hands.

... or dangerous in the right hands?

… or dangerous in the right hands?

That brings us to the possibilities for 2017. This year’s theme is “application.” The Rooster has one special super power—the ability to delay gratification and focus on the long term goal. Roosters can actually separate the reward from the work required to get it, and they can do this over long periods of time….like years. So whatever feelings you may have about the upheaval created in the Monkey year, the qi will now support you to focus and apply yourself to the task at hand with discipline and diligence. Set aside your emotions and focus on long term goals. Stay focused. That’s right, see beyond the current situation and keep your eye on whatever it is that you value in the long run; just keep chipping away without wavering. Apply yourself. That’s what this year is all about.

How each of you will be able to digest this type of qi depends on your animal sign with its particular characteristics and nature. Below is a brief comment on how each of the 12 animals can best use this year’s qi.


RAT: You have a talent for research. In your world, every detail counts. During the Monkey year you were valued and rewarded for your obsession with ferreting out every angle, then selecting the precise pathway to the cheese. But Rooster arrives at clarity without your help, and your careful research may even be dismissed as perseveration. Pay no mind and don’t lower your standards. Devote yourself to personal creative projects. Conserve your energy. You’re not in a position of power this year, so apply yourself to private endeavors that are totally within your purview. This will fulfill you, keep your considerable skills honed, and ready you for the Pig year (2019) when you are likely to be tapped for an important advisory position.

OX: Though you may have been annoyed by the irreverent escapades that marked the Monkey year (which you viewed as undisciplined folly,) you have a thick skin and a penchant for the long view. Now this perspective is given the respect it deserves and you will be able to partner with Rooster to accomplish your long term agenda. Finally, someone who understands! The energy of this year is perfectly suited to support hard work in the service of long term goals. Roosters excel at this. You are in perfect accord here. The only difference between you and Rooster is that you actually like to apply yourself every day (putting one foot in front of the other to plow a nice straight furrow,) while Roosters, though valuing achievement, can get irritable about the daily work required to accomplish it. So have at it. The qi is running smoothly at your back. Just keep going.

TIGER: Well, the best I can say is, bravo for you if you are still standing after the Fire Monkey year. You must have been doing something right. Now, I’d love to tell you to take a year off and lie around on the riverbank. But unfortunately the Rooster requires you to shake off your near hysteria and focus now. The trick here is to get back in the game but with one clear agenda. Doesn’t really matter what it is, just make it one (OK, maybe two) things that you can skillfully apply yourself to. The qi this year supports deft application in a clearly articulated area. It’s sort of like being the kicker on a football team. You know, the guy who only knows how to kick, but does it perfectly every time. For most of the game he just sits on the bench, but when needed, he walks out on the field and, with perfect clarity and grace, sends that ball right over the goalposts to win the game. That’s you.

rabbitRABBIT: Two words: run away. You, being the psychics of the zodiac, are WAY too sensitive for this Fire Rooster. The Rooster is your opposite sign. What other people see as candor, will feel like attack to you. There will be conflict all around this year, partly because of the Fire/Metal tension inherent in the year, and partly because of this Rooster’s “take no prisoners” approach to holding power and moving its agenda forward. Though you are a warrior in your own right (a trait that can come out in a staggering display of fierceness when cornered,) you dislike conflict and are better off retreating to the sensual luxury of your cozy home. In other words, stay out of it. Conserve your qi until the Pig year, when you will be in charge of seating arrangements at the party.

DRAGON: OK yes, you are special. After a stellar Monkey year playing politics, with Monkey as your spin doctor, you now get to continue your alchemy during the Rooster year. Rooster appreciates your power and flare for leadership and daring. You appreciate Rooster’s laser focus and ability to apply itself to the task at hand. Together you can actually create magic. But skillful means are required. Now is not the time for hubris and rash impulse. I suggest you read the first hexagram of the I Ching. This hexagram should be your talisman for the year. It perfectly describes the transformations of the celestial dragon from quiescence to exuberance. Heed the wisdom here. Dragons can either be blustering egotists, or agents of celestial wisdom. This year you get to choose which path to embrace.

SNAKE: You and Ox are the Rooster’s natural partners. I call this trio the “achievement” team. Rooster supplies the ambition, Ox the endurance, and Snake the knowledge and philosophical frame. Together these three can deliver results. This year you will feel valued. People will consult you on important matters and heed your sage advice. You are in a unique position of power and able to operate from behind the scenes (your preferred introverted strategy,) rather than suffering the exposure of center stage. Hint—Bernie Sanders is a Metal Snake. Had the election been held in the Rooster year instead of the Monkey year, we may have been looking at a very different scenario. Just saying.

HORSE: You share some traits with Rooster so you may get caught up in the current of achievement this year. Horses are ambitious, courageous, active, love to work, and have the noble heart of a warrior. So this should, in theory, be an ideal year for you to succeed beyond your wildest dreams. But here’s the caveat: Horses are easily distracted. And remember, this year is all about focus and application. The minute you shy away from the plan and skitter off in another direction, you will get nailed by that critical Rooster qi; you risk being dismissed as unreliable and unpredictable. The best strategy for success this year is to collaborate with a steady friend, which you can think of as an experienced rider with calm hands. Let’s see…..not Dog (who is in conflict with Rooster,) not Tiger (too erratic and exhausted,) and not Ox (you can’t bear the stubborn traditionalism.) So I think that leaves Sheep, the Horse’s natural stable mate!

SHEEP: Your artistic sensibilities and collaborative management style are at odds with the Rooster’s singular focus on achievement. The Rooster’s pride, self-confidence, and keen abilities just look like arrogance to you. Relationships and diplomacy are central to your world view but of little importance to the Rooster, whose only concern is “what will get us to the goal most efficiently?” So, this is a good year to keep your head down and stay out of the argument. You are way more sensitive to criticism then you let on, and this year you’re wearing a target on your back. Since the annual qi supports focused application of your skills, consider cooking, crafts, hobbies, woodworking—just please don’t attempt to apply your considerable management skills to the prideful Rooster. You can do it, but the stress and hurt feelings will shorten your life.

MONKEY: Time’s up, you’re done. The Rooster is now stepping on to the stage to clean up all the broken china from last year’s shenanigans. Now is the time you get to show up as the true magician you actually are. People who don’t know you well, may suspect that you are only interested in chaos. We know that’s not true. We know that you have a true heart and are capable of being a loyal friend. Your natural element is Metal, so you do know how to see through the confusion and discern the underlying order of things. Use that talent now, and apply it to compassionate service. This is the essence of magic.

ROOSTER: Not everyone benefits from the qi of their own year. It’s like being in the front row of the classroom. You’re always the one who gets called on—no coming to class unprepared and hiding out in the back hoping to avoid getting noticed. But Roosters are perfectly suited to this command position. It’s an opportunity to shine! So have at it. You are now the one who holds all the cards, has all the answers, and can finally move the whole class forward. No slackers allowed. No need to hold back and feel frustrated by the clueless masses. This promises to be a successful year for you in all ways. No need to tell you to stay focused; just be yourself. Eyes on the prize!

DOG: You and Rooster both have a strong work ethic, but don’t mistake this for compatibility. You have very different motivations. Dogs are willing to work hard out of a sense of loyalty and guardianship, while Rooster qi is all about achievement for its own sake. This fundamental misalignment will make you grumpy and exhausted if you try to join up with Rooster and press forward with your goals. So, since focus and application are supported this year, best use of this qi for Dogs is to clear away everything you no longer need, release old habits that don’t serve you, and simplify your life in preparation for the Earth Dog year in 2018 which promises to be a time of renewal for you. Use this upcoming Rooster year to prepare, so you aren’t burdened by excess baggage when your time comes.

PIG: Though your nerves are understandably a little frayed from coping with the mind boggling twists and turns of the Monkey year, it’s important now to maintain your calm and forgiving nature. The qi this year has a sharp edge to it; it may seem to you like the world has gone slightly insane with ambition and overwork. Your job is to rise above it all. Remember that no amount of money or status means anything without the warm glow of family and friends, elegant food, a glass of wine, and an evening of good conversation. Your job is to be a constant reminder of this for the rest of us. Focus on balance; apply yourself to hospitality. Good manners are your super power.

Narrye Caldwell is a Licensed acupuncturist with a private practice specializing in pole star astrology, classical feng shui, and shamanic healing methods. She teaches Tai Chi and Qigong at the Academy of Martial Arts in Santa Cruz, is on the faculty at Five Branches University, and teaches workshops in core shamanism for the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. Narrye’s Pole Star astrology readings are available via Skype or at her office in Santa Cruz. See her website for information about how to schedule a consultation.

If you are interested in Chinese martial arts and philosophy the PLUM PUBLICATIONS website is a treasure trove of books, vcds and dvds along with Ted Mancuso’s own thoughts and insights into the arts.

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