Take a closer look at the photo in this post,
You’ll see its all young child aged 8-9!
It was taken at my primary school in Hackney (Rushmore Primary School) around 1968-69.
I’m not in this particular shot (tho my twin sisters are).
You will see a mix of all different races and cultures! That’s the kind of school/ hackney/London I know grew up in.
Sure I had white kids call me ‘nigger’ etc
When they got mad with me… those were real ruff racial times to.
I recently discovered that the famous war correspondent ‘John Pilger’ ( back then a journalist for the Daily Mirror) in 68 or 69
Wrote a big controversial piece comparing ‘Rushmore with Eton’!! (desparatly trying to get hold of this piece from there archives)!
I remember our head teacher (Mr Carter) for a part of each assembly- would have us all sit in dead silence, and listen to pieces of music.
We were never told what we were listening to as far as I remember… we just obeyed! because back
then, that’s what you did.
I believe this process was really helpful in developing my ear and appreciation for music.
For a very long time I thought singing was something everyone did.
It was always played in the house by my parents
And at school.
I had great times at Rushmore School!
My teacher when I was aged nine was (known at the time as Miss Hawkins !‘Georgina’), from the southwest of england Bridgwater somerset.
Can you believe this special woman still
teaches primary school kids in 2009?) its true.
I’m fifty so you do the maths.
During the summer of 69, about six or so of us were taken by Georgina and another teacher ‘Sally’ on a trip for a few weeks to the southwest of England! staying at Georgina’s parents pub.
This trip was transforming in so many ways!
It was the first time I had seen so much open space, the beach, sand, forests, fishing,etc, etc, what an adventure! It’s an experience I’ve never forgotten.
I believe your childhood experience’s sets in motion the things you pursue in adult life.
During the early 70’s, my first year at Secondary School (Brooke House) was exciting and full of promise!
We had lots of music, singing, instruments,…
I wanted to learn them all.
I remember peeping in the gym, watching
One of my class friends learning gymnastics and
Thought yeah! I’d love to learn how to do that too.
During my second year around aged 11 it all disappeared (except the gym).
Government cut backs etc..man I was gutted!!!
I remember asking the gym teacher around this time if I could learn gymnastics? his stern reply was “your to old”.
It’s now my firm belief that music/singing should and must be apart of the school curriculum.
Its such a great aid and facilitator into other
Subjects, maths, English, etc.
Statistics show all the schools in the uk
That have a strong music programme (group or choir singing / learning instruments etc) are the ones that are thriving on every level.
This year I celebrated my fiftieth birthday as part
Of the annual London Jazz Festival 2009.
I feel very fortunate to have worked with so many different diverse artists.
Beginning with the ‘Reggae lovers Rock Scene’
With artist’s like Santic (Leonard Chin), Carrol Thompson, Sugar minott, to ‘JAZZ’ with Alumni, JazzTrain, Norma Winstone, Talvin Singh,Goldie, The Who, John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler,Tunde Jegede, Art Blakey, Jazz Warriors, BBC Concert Orchestra, duseldorf symphonic orchestra, etc etc….
When I was asked by Amy @ Serous to think about what I would like to do for the festival this year to celebrate
I sat down and thought about the musical London I’ve experienced over the last 30 or so years and
Came up with a dream list of persons I would love to share this moment with.
I knew I wanted to go back to Rushmore School
And workshop some of the kids so they would open this show.
Also all the above names and many many more. An impossible list of musicians to feature on one night I know but I gave it a go.
With many cut backs etc, ( my current trio ‘CWT’ and Solo Voice Project ‘VocalSuite’ also excluded.
The list of world class Musicians/Artists that did eventually play a part in this event was staggering!
Adrian Reed, Alan Weekes, Alex Wilson, Bonnie Greer, Brian Edwards, Byron Wallen, Colin Salmon, Derek Richards, DJ Le Rouge, Gary Crosby, Gene Calderazzo,Heidi Vogel, Jason Rebello, Jason Yarde, Jean Toussaint, Julian Joseph, Kenrick Rowe, Larry Bartley, Mark Hodsgon, Mark Mondesir, Martin Speake, Nikki Yeoh, Orphy Robinson,Rushmore School Singers, Shaney Forbes, Sheila Jordan, Shlomo, Simon Purcell, Steve Sidwell, Talvin Singh, Trevor Watkis, Tunde Jegede, Vayu Naidu.
I recently spent some time in the USA ,
Just before this concert, ‘Sept 09’.
Really felt the urge to go and see my sister
and nieces in NJ (who I ain’t seen for ages),
and also check out the JAZZ Scene post 911 and Obama. Not the best time I guess to see bands etc as most are on the road this time of year.
The last time I was in the states (NY) was January 2002. This time i could’nt help parallel all that I saw and experienced there with life in England.
I was there on my own, so i had my own agenda.
I think the most amazing thing I saw was Jazz @ Lincoln Centre!
As Wynton Marsalis (Artist Director at JALC) calls it, “a palace for jazz”.
What you need to understand if you’ve never been there is its like coming out of the London underground in the middle of Piccadilly Circus,
And as you look up, in bright lights, it says JAZZ AT THE LINCOLN CENTRE!
I stood there for about 5mins just starring at that sign, like a japanise tourist. Thinking about all the great jazz men and women that developed and paved the way for this great American art form
To be what it is today.
And to see this great institution dedicated to JAZZ? WOW.
I was given the privilege of an invite, to a couple of the stream of events that take place there on a daily bases, and a tour of the Halls.
The main Jazz Club ‘Dizzy’s Club’ is a sight to behold.The music/sound/and food all to a high standard. Great education and outreach programmes etc. very inspiring.
What I also noticed was how black and white everything still is in the USA when you leave manhattan. At night after leaving the clubs,
I’d get the train to Rahway NJ to my sisters place
where I was staying.
I remember one day asking her “I never see any white people around here”? whats the deal with that?.She said “they all move out when black people move in”. She say’s back in the day Rahway was mostly an all white neighborhood, but now all the blacks are where we are and the whites stay in there neighborhood.
How sad is that?
Then I started to think about the britten that I live in now, the multicultural Hackney that me and my sister grew up in, and could see that it was a very similar story over in England.
I believe that JAZZ (when done well) is an all inclusive and democratic music. “a mirror musical reflection of life itself”
I’m able and thankful in the UK to draw from so many different cultural experiences, and not be ashamed to celebrate it. CW.
Rushmore Primary School in hackney 1968/69!