A world of celebration in Budapest - May 10
Steve in Attila's " Underground Temple"
Attila's ethnic instruments
It was fab to play with Djabe again when I joined the band for its 15th anniversary show on 17 May 2010 in Budapest, complete with musicians from far and wide.
What struck me particularly this time was the breadth of ethnic diversity. On the rehearsal day we gathered in the studio - an amazing place created by Attila that Jo and I describe as the "Underground Temple"! It's entered via steps that descend into a kind of anti-chamber followed by a beautiful long room lined with Attila's father's evocative spiritual paintings. At a huge table we all gathered here for a fantastic hot meal, where it was great to get together with everyone, including Roy Castle's son Ben, dynamic multi-instrumentalist who toured with me in Italy about ten years ago just after I guested on his Postmankind album with Ian Mosely. Beyond this room is an area that houses an extraordinary collection of ethnic instruments from the four corners of the globe, including an array of primitive and ancient looking weird shaped percussion. It's like an Aladdin's cave. Finally you reach the recording area and inner sanctum of the studio itself, where each time I go I hear an extraordinary combination of musical brainchildren from around the world.
The concert the following day, held in the Palace of Arts in Budapest, was a magical fusion of sounds. It was a joy to hear the haunting strains of Ferenc Kovacs' gypsy violin playing alongside Malik Mansurov's tar from Azerbaidjan. An ancient instrument going back at least three thousand years, its sound echoes and bends almost like a sitar, but with its own mysterious energy. I loved hearing Mihali Dresch's homemade primal woodwind instrument, the Fuhunna resembling the Armenian Dudduk that just has to be heard to be believed. From the far south of Morocco hails Said Tichiti with his Guembri (stringed instrument) and tabla drums (Darbuka and Djambe) that all evoked the soul of the desert, crying with a tribal heartbeat. These amazing instruments wove around Zoltan's dynamic keyboards, Aron's, Ben's and Ferenc's exuberant brass, Szilard's powerful drums, Attila's guitar and Hungarian folk whistle and my guitar. At one point the extraordinary team was joined by three dancers, moving in unison with a unique sense of fluidity, paralleling the amazing diversity of the band and the name Djabe, which means "Freedom" in Ashanti.
It was a magical evening for all of us and was rapturously received by the packed house. My thanks to Attila, Djabe and also the promoters who made this fantastic evening possible.
Steve in soundcheck
Malek with his tar
Said in soundcheck