69 years old
4 years have passed since my last update! I must apologise to those dear readers who have an interest in these updates. I have the distinct impression that the older I get, the quicker the years flow by. So if this update seems long-winded, just speed-read it!
In the spring of 2007, the 4th Dimension made a European tour which was followed by a US tour in the Autumn of the same year. Some of you may reacall that our bassist at that time, Hadrien Feraud, broke his hand two days before the tour, and was out of action. We were very lucky to get my old bassist colleague from the 1990′s trio with Trilok Gurtu, Dominique DiPiazza to replace him at a moment’s notice, and he did an outstanding job. You can see this for yourselves on the DVD of our concert in Belgrade Serbia, that we made during that tour: ‘Live in Belgrade’. Hadrien was out of action so long, that he never made it back into the band. For those who admire him like me, he is now doing fine, living in L.A. and playing with that great drummer Chris Coleman.
By this time my long time friend and colleague, Chick Corea and I had planned our ‘special’ group ’5 Peace Band’ with Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride and alternating drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Brian Blade. This band kicked off in October 2008 with a Charity concert here in Monte Carlo, and we continued with a European tour. Incidentally for our non-European friends, a European tour now includes a number of countries that were behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ not so many years ago, and it really is wonderful to meet people from these countries who have been aware of what we have been doing for many years before the fall of communism and the ‘Curtain’. Among these we have the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Azerbijan, and of course Russia itself. This is eloquent testimony to the power of music, and its ability to unite so many different people and races in its embrace.
In early 2009, 5 Peace Band began the Asian leg of our world tour in Japan, and we ended it in New Zealand several weeks later. A month or so later, we played the final tour in the US and subsequently released our live CD which went on to pick up a Grammy in February 2010.
Already by August – September 2009, lots of new music was coming to me, and at the same time, Dominique Di Piazza had continued his own career during the 5 Peace Band tours, so I invited bassist extraordinaire Etienne M’Bappe to participate in the new recording ‘To the One’, with the option of becoming a permanent member afterwards. I’d met Etienne a few years earlier when I met him at one of Joe Zawinul’s Syndicate performances. After the recording it was clear to both of us, that he was meant for this band! His playing on the CD and subsequently ‘live’ on tour, demonstrates his great talent and humanity. Also around that time – November 2009 – I participated in a charity show here in Moanco with one of my dearest and oldest friends, Jeff Beck. Can he play!!!!
Last year the 4th Dimension hit the road in Europe with Etienne, and had a great tour. This was followed by our US tour by which time the CD ‘To the One’ had been released. Again we got lucky as this CD got nominated for another Grammy this February, but it went to another of my dear friends, Stanley Clarke.
We’re pretty much up to date now, and my time so far this year has been spent writing new music which we may record later this year. I’ve a big job archiving my two pieces for guitar (acoustic) and Orchestra by digitizing all the scores. Now when I get a request from an Orchestra for the scores, instead of sending a suitcase weighing 30 kilos! I just send a CD with the scores in PDF format.
This summer will kick off with a reunion concert with another dear friend Carlos Santana in Switzerland. This will be a ‘reunion’ concert since it’s about 40 years since we recorded our LP ‘Love Devotion and Surrender’, and Carlos will then continue with his European tour, and the 4th Dimension will start its own Euro tour. I’m really looking forward to playing with Carlos again after all these years!
Another project I’ve been working on is the idea of a free concert in Palestine. This will be with the Shakti group, and I’m very happy to say that thanks to the Organization Al Mada, which is doing a fantastic job working with music on traumatized children in Palestine, it looks like we will be performing there early next year.
I’ll keep this section updated more regularly – promise!