Music in South Africa
Africa is culturally very diverse and this is reflected in the different styles of muisc that you come across when you visit. Anyone interested in the history
of the country (and how can you resist such a fascinating subject) will want to
find out about the musical underground which flourished in the 1950s in the big
cities and the jazz styles which grew up there.
where the Anglican Church has had one of its most direct impacts on the history
of jazz. Father Trevor Huddleston discovered that the 11 year old Hugh Masekela
was desperate to get hold of a trumpet and managed to find him one. In gratitude
Hugh Masekela named his first band the Huddleston Jazz Band.
of music in the townships goes under the name Kwaito and is an eccentric mix
using digital instruments and technologies – a bit like Detroit techno maybe.
The variety and the use of electronics, loops and beats plus more traditional
instruments and the use of jazz elements is one of the links between the South
African Music scene and the musicians from USA, mainland Europe and the UK who
play on Music for the Highveld CDs. We are looking for opportunities to get
closer ties with South African musicians as part of this project.
Serious Music for the Highveld – Review by Andrew Keeling
been CD pioneered by ex-Nick Drake and Footlights flautist Iain Cameron,
together with Paul Wheeler and others. It is an album divided in to Beginning,
Middle and End. If only record companies would pay heed to this kind of music,
we may well then be treated to creativity instead of product as this is what
Cameron has achieved.
Careless Love, which kicks off the album, has a sort of Jansch/Graham
authenticity. The guitars are all played by Cameron, complete with finger
slaps and bends which make it sound as though it could have been recorded in the
mid- late '60's. Cameron knows the style intimately.
Plainsailing comes from Paul Wheeler's 'Sea Changes' project, a contemporary
song-cycle. The guitar parts are Cocteau Twins-like with some gorgeous chord
Cameron's Stanzas for Music include his virtuoso jazz flute, and multi-timbral
keyboards. One wonders what this might have sounded like given the production
means that a large studio would present. Cameron has a unique compositional
voice, fusing contemporary classical ideas with extended tonality which owes
something to the English choral tradition. I would also love to hear this music
scored for traditional instruments.
After saying that, Chorale 1918, Stravinsky's short memorial piece to Debussy,
is ripped from its original context and placed in that of digital technology in
a perfectly placed piece.
Sonnet, to the words of Shakespeare, is really the most unique, and the sort of
thing that I feel Elvis Costello could benefit from, with its reference to
Purcell. It would make excellent sound-track music as too would would Note
Too 1945, the second of Boulez's Notations given a very different treatment
here: as Cameron has said, 'Treated as Captain Beefheart might'.
22 - Cameron places moving chords over imaginary pedals in this piece, and the
introduction pushes listener expectations through repetition. The whole song,
using the text of Psalm 22, is sung, or rather declaimed with, sometimes,
angular melodic lines, over chromatic/Baroque-like harmony. Cameron has used
some interesting word-painting: check out the words 'my bones are all unjointed'
which are highlighted by the block, tableaux-like structure. In this way the
music tends not to unfold by organic means but, rather, more aligned with
Baroque ritornello/episode form. The rising 4ths, during the coda, unify the
Night Dances has a
syncopated, spiralling Ground underpinng it. Cameron's vocal lines, sung by
Cathy Bell, are interesting as they straddle the line between angularity and
conjunct motion, all fused together by a modality which wouldn't be out of place
in a church setting. The ending is memorable as the music just stops in a
similar way to Judith Weir's String Quartet.
Frostie - is by Paul Wheeler
and is very Cocteau Twins-like, especially Victorialand. P.W. who was a close
associate of Nick Drake says that he has chosen to pursue a very different
musical path. The influence of Syd Barrett also comes to mind. I very
much like the emotional punch of this music with it's big major seventh-based
Baroksambience is part 10 in a series of
works written in memory of Nick Drake and Mary Cameron. It features a
minimalist/Meredith Monk-like pulsing organ sound, which underpins Cameron's
virtuoso jazz flute performance.
For anyone revelling in
obscurity, taste (both at a performance and a compositional level) and meaningful music I would
recommend 'Serious Music For The Highvelt'. John Zorn - eat you heart out! “
Concerto Nekyia was premiered in The Naval Hospital Chapel Greenwich by Evelyn
Glennie on 16 November 2000 - the Concerto is dedicated to Evelyn Glennie to
play in memory of Nick Drake. He is working on a number of projects with Robert
Fripp on the King Crimson repertoire.)
Easter Highveld Plundafonix
Iain Cameron writes:
suppose everyone planning a second album wrestles with the balance of “same” and
“different”. As far as “different” is concerned I was really pleased that Robin
Frederick, Gilbert Isbin and Fellthru agreed to join the project.
song “You Are Here” really appeals to me because it combines wit, depth
and musicianship. I just love the idea of taking phrases out of the typical
instruction manual and dressing them up in sophisticated musical clothes – the
alto sax fills by some anonymous LA session musician are just the icing on the
juxtaposed Fellthru and Cathy Bell’s version of the late Vaughan Williams
song partly because both of these pieces were recorded in the last year or so in
Cambridge by musicians in their late teens/early twenties. Of course I savoured
the stylistic jolt between contemporary punk-ska and the VW’s haunting lament
for the lost muse.
and I first met about a year ago when he sent me his CD of Nick Drake
interpretations which really impressed me and we decided to do a trial project
together – Blossoms is the result. In terms of the range of music that
Gilbert plays it is at the more traditional end. But I know from the reactions
to the first CD that a lot of people enjoy acoustic guitar music skilfully
this I put a couple of my own solo acoustic guitar pieces on the programme for
this CD, partly because I worked a lot on interpretations of this Easter hymn
during Lent 2002. The same tune features in “acid jazz” clothes on the CD with
an interpretation on my Casio DH500 digital horn.
I wanted to make a link between Serious
Music and this CD and so I decided to open the set with Paul Wheeler’s song
“Plainsailing” from his new CD Seachanges. Serious Music included a
different version this song which I produced from a demo tape. This version is
Paul’s production but the simple lyric – addressing someone who is going back
home in the hope that their life will be “plainsailing from now on” – has a
poignancy which I feel suits the theme of both CDs.
I might just mention one more track which is
based on a Sufi chant which I learned in October 2001. Just last week I met by
chance Ayeesha Foot who discovered this music eighteen years ago triggering a
chain of events which led to that recording. Ayeesha is a leading figure in
Dances of Universal Peace and she was in Guildford to lead a workshop, This
version has a reggae beat and is very electronic.