Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The African Way - Ben Okri

I'm currently half way through Songs of Enchantment, the second in Ben Okri's The Famished Road Trilogy, the first instalment of which won the Booker Prize 20 years ago. I won't attempt a review or description of this incredible trilogy, which weaves  surreal fantasy into a description of the struggles of the poverty stricken community that the spirit child Azaro is part of - far better to read the original. Okri's use of language is exceptionally powerful and evocative, and in amongst the surreal accounts are profound and passionate philosophical statements. Take his description of the African Way:
".. The Way of compassion and fire and serenity: The Way of freedom and power and imaginative life; The Way that keeps the mind open to the existences beyond our earthly sphere, that keeps the spirit pure and primed to all the rich possibilities of living, that makes of their minds gateways through which all the thought-forms of primal creation can wander and take root and flower; The Way through which their forgotten experiments in living can resurface with fuller results even in insulated and innocent communities; The Way that makes it possible for them to understand the language of angels and gods, birds and trees, animals and spirits; The Way that makes them greet phenomena for ever as a brother and a sister in mysterious reality; The Way that develops and keeps its secrets of transformations - hate into love, beast into man, man into illustrious ancestor, ancestor into god; The Way whose centre grows from divine love, whose roads are always open for messages from all the spheres to keep coming through; The Way that preaches attunement with all the higher worlds, that believes in forgiveness and generosity of spirit, always receptive, always listening, always kindling the understanding of signs, like the potencies hidden in snail tracks along forbidden paths; The Way that always, like a river, flows into and flows out of the myriad Ways of the world."
The whole world could learn from wisdom like that, and may it be our mission in 2012 to be more open to this Way.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

New recording

Messing around with a few ideas on the piano yesterday, would like to explore them with the trio, when we get round to having a proper practice.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Fundraising Concert

I'm doing a fundraiser for Billie Butterfly Fund at St Leonards Church Exeter on 10th January 2012.


At St Leonard’s Church
Topsham Road


Featuring internationally acclaimed classical guitarist

Clive Betts
with Special Guest: Soprano, Mary O'Shea
Raising funds for the Paediatric Oncology Department

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

with Billie Butterfly Fund

Tuesday 10th January 2012


followed by refreshments in the Church Centre

Entrance Free

Donations welcome!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A new Jazz Trio is born!

Last night I played in a trio for a student event at our church. I had been approached by the other two members last Friday to see  if I could join them, so our first practice was also our first gig. I was on piano, Tom Simpson was on double bass (I've heard him play before so knew he was good) and John Raynor, who has recently joined the church music group as a violinist, on drums. We played some standard repertoire (Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver etc etc) and gelled remarkably well. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and we had fun, so it may become a more permanent group. I'd been toying with the idea of starting a trio anyway, and one magically appears! The aim will be to add some original compositions to the repertoire and hopefully get a few local gigs. No name yet though! Considering the way we came together, Impromptu is a possibility. Or, given the nature of my playing (I never know exactly what I 'm going to do) Impulse might be good. Or there is the punning Fun Confusion (Pronounced Funk 'n' Fusion). We all attend St Leonard's Church, so Lens or Lense might work. All suggestions welcome!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Seasonal Offering

10 years ago I played in a jazz quartet that provided some entertainment for a Christmas Banquet at Greyfriars Church in Reading (UK). We only practiced 2 or 3 times, so it was a bit rough and ready, but people seemed to enjoy it. Anyway, here's our version of Ding Dong Merrily on High