The name of tonight’s selected piece of music is Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, which is a very appropriate title for this annual watershed when the year fades away and emerges, on the other side of night, as something new.
2012 has been a year characterised by the most amazing intensity; in many ways it has been one of the highlights of my life. I’ve had the privilege of spending lots of time with my children and wife, exploring dreams and communing with, in the words of Gil Scott-Heron, ‘the Spirits’. The Washerman’s Dog continued to attract new fans around the world, many of whom struck up conversations with me and shared a bit of their own lives. Such experiences are always precious and I thank all of you who did get in touch.
One of the big events of the year was putting a stake in the sand and setting up Harmonium Music which, though not as nearly as mature as I would have liked, has been a fantastic adventure (and steep, slow learning curve). In August my son’s football team won their championship and he was named the Player of the Series! My daughter continued to wrap me tighter around her finger and surprise us (and sometimes, freak us out) with her natural acrobatic skills. My wife renewed an academic journey and became even more of a mentor to friends and family.
So it was a year of deepening love, family, Spirit and the beginning of important journeys. On the ‘bring home the bacon’ front 2012 continued to be challenging. Attempts to find work of any sort failed with dismal predictability. This has led to a situation where on this the very first day of the New Year, I have had to take the decision to pull up stumps and move away from Australia for work. In a few weeks time I will be taking up a new job in Beirut with the UN, assisting on the humanitarian response to the people’s crisis in Syria.
This is not what I thought 2013 would hold but it bears remembering that often the road home is a circuitous one. And one thing I’ve learned in the past 2 years: be open to all possibilities and settle in for the ride.
So how much time I will have to keep the Dog barking this year remains to be seen. But I can promise I’ll be avidly exploring the musical souks of Beirut and posting some things here from time to time. So keep coming back.
Tonight’s selection is from the wonderful South African musician, Pops Mohamed. My old friend PW, who recently made his own overseas move back to Africa, is responsible for introducing me to this music. This album from 2002 is mellow and evocative of this time of transition. It’s a story told about comings and goings, family, movements and journeys of several different sorts. Just the sort of thing that’s on my mind and probably that of many others at the moment.
Ismail Mohamed-Jan, (Pops Mohamed) was born on 10 December 1949, Bemoni, South Africa. Mohamed founded and played guitar with his first band, the Valients, in the mid-60s. Their repertoire was made up of soul, Latin and local kwela music. Following the break-up of the Valiants, he formed Children’s Society, predominantly a covers band who, nevertheless, had a big local hit with the self-penned ‘I’m A Married Man’. In the 70s Mohamed teamed up with Basil Coetzee and Sipho Gumede, bass player with Sakhile, and made four albums that became huge hits in the townships of South Africa. The 80s saw him working behind the scenes as a producer and recording engineer while also mastering the mbira (a South African thumb piano). In the early 90s he released two solo jazz albums for the local market only, Kalamazoo in 1991 and Sophiatown a year later. Both sold well and received lavish critical praise.
Having produced and played on the Outernational Meltdown recording sessions in 1994, he released Ancestral Healing, his international debut, a year later. Subtitled ‘From New York To Jo’burg’, it was recorded in New York and featured local musicians, such as Valerie Naranjo (vibraphonist, percussionist, ex-Caribali), along with South African players and Mohamed himself playing piano, penny whistle, mbira and a whole range of percussion instruments. The album successfully melded traditional styles with the South African jazz sound made internationally popular by artists such as Abdullah Ibrahim and the African Jazz Pioneers.At the time of the release of Ancestral Healing, Mohamed was in the Kalahari Desert recording the chants and music of the Khoisian bushmen. Tapes of these recordings were used as the basis for a recording session featuring Mohamed and a group of young British jazz musicians including Chris Bowden and Roland Sutherland. The result, released as How Far Have We Come, featured funky South African-style jazz, with the tribal elements integrated more effectively on some tracks than on others. (AMG)
Happy New Year!
02 Mother And Child
03 Gauteng Vibes
05 Movement In The City - Part 1
06 The Journey - Part 1 (Mayibuye)
07 The Journey - Part 2 (The Groove)
09 The Journey Continues…
11 Movement In The City - Part 2
12 I'm Going Back