So just landed in a new city, Bangkok.
How do I start to find musicians?
The internet of course. Bingo!..I find John Fernandez. A wonderful and talented percussionist trumpet player and vocalist from Columbia. John has amazing sensitivity and can always bring out the best in my music
John introduced me to Claudio, a Chilean percussionist; another master of rhythm.We played a residency at Jamon Jamon and really got the place rocking. I have always been into all genres of music although my chosen instrument is the flamenco guitar.
All genres to be found
I was brought up in 1960’s London and would sleep at night with the radio against my ear at low volume so my parents couldn’t hear…no headphones in those days. I would listen to anything and everything.
While performing at Jamon Jamon we wanted to put on a special night of vocals.
Another internet search brings me to Jean Olsen; an accomplished and talented vocalist living in Bangkok. Jean encouraged me to learn some jazz standards and she performed a marvellous set adding class and elegance to the event.We had no reverb or effects but that was no problem for Jean.
On the night of the concert, we were approached by Nizam, a saxophonist from Lebanon.
He asked if he could sit in with Saxophone and flute.
He did and it was super cool. Jazz and flamenco by Lebanese, American and English musicians in a Spanish Taverna in Thailand….IMMERSION FUSION
The best of both worlds
Not long after this, I was contacted by Lalita; a flamenco dancer and dance teacher who asked if I would accompany her on guitar for an examination.
This lead to a collaboration of flamenco dance performances at Jamon Jamon which transported us to Andalusia Spain.
Action attracts opportunity.
Enter Jay; A passionate and expressive flamenco dancer who brings strength and dramatic quality to his performance.
So up until now, I had performed with three Flamenco dancers all from Thailand which was a challenge as up until then I had always performed solo. So why Thailand? Why not?
Bangkok like many large cities has a multicultural quality. The demographics may differ but the diversity and variety are strong. Like a meeting point or market square for a cultural jam.
Didier Mpondo living n Bangkok is the second musician from the Cameroon I have met and worked with.
The first was a saxophonist who was introduced to me by one of my first guitar students in London.
‘You gotta make it talk’ my dad would advise me when I played the guitar.
This Saxophonist made it talk, cry, laugh, walk, run and dance.
One time I gave him a lift home at 4 am. When we approached his house he asked me to cut the engine so the car noises wouldn’t disturb his sleeping 5-month-old baby. As he got out of the car he called out a bird noise into the sky and immediately afterwards a bird in a nearby tree echoed his call exactly.
Didier can do much the same through his wonderful vocals and percussion. Although I haven’t heard his bird call.
Indian Weddings and Jazz Tabla jams.
Like London, Bangkok has a large population of Indians and there are regularly lavish and grand Indian weddings. My first event in Bangkok was at one of these weddings.
The job was to play flamenco guitar for a dancer I had never met. Carla Soledad Rivera. We met. I played. She danced. Job done.
Since then I have studied, researched and performed with her at amazing venues throughout Thailand.
One thing leads to another.
Carla is the founder of The Home BKK. A cultural, educational and performance space in Bangkok. Through the Home, I have met great supporters of my art and worked with so many talented dancers and students. Recently we put on a show with a mesmerising mix of jazz percussion by Pong Nakornchai and Indian and ragga vocals by Harry Freebird.
I don’t believe I’ve even scratched the surface but look forward to many more musical experiences in this magical land in South East Asia.