January/February 2008

2008 has certainly kicked off with a bang! We played at a stunning New Year's gig at the V & A Waterfront. It was a perfect night - no wind - and a fabulous way to start 08. The following night I had the priveledge of playing at an awesome private party which reinformced the good vibes for 2008.

At the end of January, I flew to Cannes to attend Midem 08 - the world's largest music market. What a treat to meet representatives from the music business from around the world truly... one minute we were talking to someone from Benin, Bulgaria and Brazil and the next moment, Taiwan, Turkey and the UK.

How humbling to hear giants like Peter Gabriel and Nick Gold (producer of Bueno Vista Social Club) amongst many others.

We attended interesting conference sessions and learnt how the rest of the world views the music industry. We attended some awesome live music sessions in the form of the latest from China that was mind-blowing, a young Lebanese trumpeter who is blowing up a storm and a fantastic electronic drumming group from Germany called Christian Promner's drum lessons.

After climbing 109 steps to the top of the Chateau de la Castre and viewing the whole of Cannes, it was onto Paris.

The first night in Paris and I was off to see Ernest Dawkins and his Chicago 12 performing at the Festival Sons D'Hiver. Ernest and I have been friends for many years and it was such an honour to see him perform live again. He invited me to jam with him a few nights later. I got out at 03h00. I guess it went on for much longer. Musos from all over Paris just arrived with their instruments and started playing. No fuss, no politics and a frenzied energetic crowd.

Selmer Paris, the holy grail of saxophones very kindly agreed to meet with me. My association with them goes back some 7 years but it was such an honour to be able to go to their offices and see the workshop and talk to them. The following day they arranged for me to 'test drive' some of their newer models of saxophone and we went into their showroom. I tested some of the saxophones in the same room that Kenny Garrett uses!!!!

Another highlight was meeting 'Papa' Manu Dibango at his radio show on Africa 1. For an hour he and his co-host Robert play amazing music, chat and put out such an informative show (even though my French is not so good - I caught the gist of it!)

What an experience. Whew... I climbed 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triompe, shopped 'til the credit card bounced and crisscrossed Paris until I was dizzy.

It is good to be back in SA but I came back inspired with new ideas.

It was sad to learn of Nhlanha Magagagula's passing while I was away. My sincerest condolences to his friends and family.

Belated best wishes for 2008. Stay positive