Sunday, November 27, 2005

Opera needs new Audiences FAST

Some of the most glaring points for me to come out of doing this opera was seeing the amount of young people and audience from the Black community who attended the shows. Opera Houses are fighting to keep themselves at the top of the Arts funding foodchain.So are having to attract new audiences. Most Programmes seem to be corporate led now so are also Fairly uninspiring and predictable.Doing the same operas over and over again.The resulting in a large percentage of the new composers who would normally lead a sheltered life away from contemporary music of any sort are actively seeking out and experimenting with musicians from a real mixture of music styles and backgrounds with the result that they quickly become bored with the regimented world of so called serious music.The opera then attracts smaller and smaller mostly so called elite middle class audiences,with their age groups getting older fast and entering their final coda..Therefore the Opera Houses have to open up to interesting composers from different backgrounds who will bring in new Audiences or face badly attended shows or worst possible closure..For financial reasons as well as Artistic ones they are going to have to wake up fast.It's not just restricted to these shores as the home of Opera Italy is also under going rough times check out this piece I read in the Independent that illustrates the point.


One thing that seriously pissed me off recently,was hearing that the Royal Opera house were still blacking up performers for parts in Opera's.Along with this nuisance was the realisation all through my recent forays into the classical world that some things are still blatantly being upheld that should be shut down.So it was a pleasure to see these articles in the Guardian and Independent newspaper were someone had complained about the blacking up of a performer,resulting in the opera house quickly rethinking their practice and stopping this foolishness. OTHELLO "foresooth Protesting doth work" McBlair "lets tax it then"? check out the articles,6903,1646799,00.html and also here

Finally the fat lady sings

So the Opera "Cry of innocence"Written by Tunde Jegede has finished.Some fantastic writting and the libretto was great.The music really hit a peak in the final couple of performances were the orchestra,Singers and band all gelled. At certain moments magically.It was fun hanging with the cast at times hilariously so.The general feedback is that it will return in the future.Lets hope next time the organisation is a bit more professional.NOW TO GET PAID!!! or my accountant Mr Baseball Bat could be Paying a surprise visit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A night at the OPERA

So finally last night the Tunde Jegede Opera " Cry of innocence" opened at the Greenwich theatre.Hurrah no more rehearsals for us (the Soloist that is).The Orchestra well that's different,But they are getting there.The Gospel choir sound fantastic and the Trinity choir are not bad.The Jury is still out on some of the main vocalist and we are still waiting for the Fat Lady to swing? but you can't have everything.We have a whole week at the theatre so it should be interesting by the time we reach the end performance.My role is to play specific themes and improvise around the proceedings.For all those who Know how my mind works.The conductor is already looking worried when you start putting "little intricate polyrythmic figures within something called a groove" ( His words). So I believe saturday night (All hell might be let loose within the grooves). Lots of POLITICS.

The Kinetika gig

I did the Kinetika gig on sunday.It was High energy stuff as normal, like being run over by a truck.You would start a piece of music set the mood so as to speak then, WHAM the bloco Drummers come in usually at a different tempo.There are about 60 drummers in total so you can imagine the sound DEAFENING.but great fun.It's a lovely project and what a great way to end the LJF 2005 festival..they absolutely tore up the Audience in the Barbican centre.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Did a rehearsal for "Kinetika" yesterday and as always WOW ,glorious sounds coming from upto 150 young musicians.The repertoire this year covers Fela Kuti Abdullah Ibrahim and is titled "Roads to Freedom"John Edwards the double bassist was at the rehearsal yesterday and was clearly having a ball judging by the constant smiles on his face.As soon as the big drum ensemble section hit we get completely wiped out.They are appearing at the Barbican Centre Foyer this Sunday closing the London Jazz Festival with Giles Peterson so should be a real gas.

Dudley Phillips

Dudley Phillips the awesome bass player releases his debut album on monday 28th November.It sounds Fantastic having been lucky to get an advance copy,I have been playing the CD quite a bit.The launch is at the New Vortex club on saturday the 26th November.Should be a stonking gig.GO CHECK IT OUT.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Opera Rehearsals continue

Still rehearsing the "Cry of innocence" Opera.Todays rehearsal was at the Theatre so it was good to see all the costumes that the cast are wearing.There is a lot of internal strife going on in within the company but I am managing to keep A low profile.Tomorrow I am ducking out after a couple of hours of the Technical rehearsal to do another rehearsal this time with KINETIKA the huge 200 strong student ensemble in south London as I am appearing with them at the Barbican on Sunday.There will be some moaning from the opera people but hey I've got to do it.

The gig with Corey Mwamba at LJF 2005

Had a very enjoyable couple of days hanging out and creating music with Corey Mwamba.Last nights gig at the Purcell rooms was a London Jazz Festival gig and we were on a double bill with Big Air the project that features Chris Batchelor,Steve Buckley,Oren Marshall,Jim Black and Myra Melford it was a good audience very attentive and Big Air were superb and Full on from the word go.Some friends actually flew over from Italy to see the gig while someone else flew in from Holland so I was real glad that they enjoyed our playing.Corey played some lovely Dulcimer plus the Vibes and I managed to get some loops running on computer using the Acid 5 software that was very easy to use and program.There was one strange scary moment when up popped a window on the Laptop screen with a notice that said my wifi had picked up the south bank centres signal and was now going on line.I panicked thinking it was now going to mess up the loops,but manged to stop it just in time.My only regret was not being able to go to Steve Lawson's opening gig at the Darbouka as we couldn't get there in time.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The opera "A Cry of innocence"

I have been rehearsing since sunday at the Premises Rehearsal studios in hackney for the Opera "Cry of Innocence"written by Tunde Jegede.Its been hard but fun as the Rythmn Section rehearse away from the main orchestra.Tunde has written some great music and the band kick unfortunately there is Loads of internal politics involved,class strugles,race its all happening in the background? tomorrow we will get together with the main orchestra plus two choirs,Actors,Dancers and soloist I understand there will be about 80 people it should be interesting.there should of been some rappers plus Cleveland Watkiss as well but the Opera people have for their own reasons replaced them with opera singers?but believe, If their shit I will have something to say for sure.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Looks like the infamous Xmas Files project will be back this Xmas 16/17 th december are now near to being finalised as the dates with the line up and venue to be announced very soon.

Show was cool

The extra show at the empire went well on Sunday,as normal the young musicians and singers excelled.This time the bar was raised by choosing Shakespeare plays as the catalyst for some good upto date re-interpretations.They were able to use lots of interesting influences rather than the regular street dance, hip hop style musings.Some moaned at first when we were writing and putting the show together but they all came back and said how much they appreciated that they had been stretched creatively.Now there is a chance to perform a segment of the show in the Main house of the empire in November on the Sir Alan Sugar Challenge night when he has nominate the empire's education to be the recipient of charity funding as it was so well received.