Forging links - February 2014
Steve in exotic Turkish restaurant
Sara on didgeridoo
Several years ago I had the good fortune to play live with Malik Mansurov, master of the tar. Malik hails from Baku in Azabaijan. His magical string instrument is related to guitar and sitar. The first time I heard him play I instantly fell in love with his sound, exotic and primal with a connection to both Ancient Persia and the Mongolian wastes. The form of his highly ornamented playing is called Mugham. I was determined at some point to have his playing on one of my albums and this weekend we made it happen. We both travelled to Budapest to join Attila Égerházi and other members of Djabe to play on some of my current material.
Imagine a cross between John McLaughlin and Ravi Shankar and you'll have some idea of Malik's stunning virtuosity. It was a joy to hear his stellar performance in the Grammy studio. Ferenc Kovacs joined on violin with Malik and on trumpet with his daughter Sara on didgeridoo. They all sounded extraordinary and I'm really looking forward to integrating this into the picture of at least a couple of tracks.
As we sat together in a Vietnamese cafe at lunch time, communicating in a mixture of English, Hungarian, Russian and French, it struck me that World Music along with World Cuisine and conversation could so easily cut across international borders and celebrate differences between races and cultures. After a great day with them all in the studio, Jo and I continued to enjoy more fascinating rhythms and future possibilities in a Turkish restaurant at night. The following day we were invited to join the guys who have just set up the impressive Hungarian Rock Hall of Fame. It not only celebrates Hungarian musicians, but also artists from all over the world. It's well worth a visit.
This weekend has truly been a multi-cultural experience, and I can't wait to integrate those new sounds into my album...
Ferenc on violin and Malik on tar
Steve interviewed in Budapest Rock Hall of Fame