Thursday, November 17, 2011

Part Two: An Interview with Narelle Carter-Quinlan

Jan.s:  I invited Narelle to talk about perception and in her inimitable style here is what she wrote.....

Narelle:  Lenses of Perception

My yoga teacher of many years, Alan Goode, used to say, "Yoga cleanses the lenses of perception". And indeed I experience it does; at least on the mat. My relationship with myself, my perception of what is possible, or how I might commune within or "do" an asana, continues to open out over these years of practice. My practice is an act of creation. I move myself toward asana, I enter it, I interact with it and with myself through it, and, as long as I am available to myself and to my direct experience, I Experience myself. Information comes in. If I don't filter this experience, or defend against it, it impacts me. There is space. Change happens. My active engagement with this, is an act of creation. Much of this, of course, I have also learnt from my Spiritual practice of meditation and of Transformation.

For me, "available" is the operative word here. My "perception" may be quite a different activity from my "being available". Available to myself, to my actual experienced experience. And if I am relating with another, available to the direct experience of myself in relationship with my Other, and with the All that Is; that is, myself, the Other in question, and the vibrating communion of What Is that surrounds, and permeates us in that moment. Available to What Is, in all its vibrating aliveness in the moment, becomes my action. 

Hmmmm. Much  like the experience of tasting what something is not, in order to know more of what it is, I have been experiencing (and perceiving!) much of  "Perception" in its guise of an act of separation in my life of late; not with availability to anything at all. I notice that in this space, some things close down; most notable to me at this time, communication and compassion.

Recently, two major life experiences illuminated and continue to illuminate this for me. Piercingly so.

Last September, ten weeks ago, my mother died. It was not unexpected; she had been very ill for a long time. Nor, sadly, had we been very close.  And yet we were, I discover now. In many ways we had much in common; two women, both mothers, who deeply, deeply love/d their children, even as adults. 

I am my mother's only offspring, her only child. In her passing, there is my father. And his grief, the grief of saying farewell to one's partner of 57 years of marriage. 

I was fearful to meet him that first day after Mum died. Would he be enraged with me? Would he be alive when I arrived at his house? 

My lenses of fear. Possibly guilt. Yet he welcomed me, with unrestrained openness of arms and heart. And we wept. And as we talked, as my Dad showed me her things, as I felt my mother's presence over the next days and weeks, as I type this now, I realise/d that I had not really been available or seen my mother. I found her difficult. Demanding in ways I could not meet. But her quiet dignity, the gifts of the person, I did not see. Defence clouded and limited my lenses. 

As I travelled overseas just nine days after her passing, my father discovered he needed surgery. Home I needed to come.   

My own experience was one of being in New York City (a city I love dearly), anchor less. My family in tatters. My grief rose and washed through. 

My friends away, or going away, or busy in the breathlessness that is this city. The small furry animal inside me needed as much to come hometo be in my own bed, in my own room, with my own cat, as much as my father, alone and frightened and grieving, needed his only well relative (he has an ill brother) to support him. His daughter. So home I came. Cancelling teaching commitments. Which felt awful and anxiety provoking. 

What struck me, was this lens thing. Right there and then. As I lay on my bed in Manhattan, it was clear. As I heard responses from those around me of my decision, I became aware that each individual was viewing this reality (my mother's death, my fathers' surgery, my going home), through their own lenses. The response was mixed and polarised. It was curious to behold. The lenses of perception. Not necessarily matching my felt, direct experience of myself. What surgery did my father need? Cataracts. In both eyes. Neglected apparently, for years, as he nursed my mother, putting her care above his own. His lenses. One done, the other to go....Doesnt need his specs anymore!!

What do I Experience when I step myself beside myself, aside from my perception. Ahh, now that opens it up.....I experience Love. Great Love.

...When I was  little girl, and I had been "naughty", or believed myself to have done something "wrong", I would apologise to my father, and ask forgiveness. He would look at me amused. Compassion and expansiveness filling his face and eyes. "Do you forgive me Dad", I'd ask, little, maybe 3-5 years old. "There's nothing to forgive", he'd say. It was a direct experience for me of standing in the Light. His eyes clear and blue. Lens-less.Creation. Thanks Dad!

Several years ago, I reminded him of this incident, this experience. He smiles again, "Oh. Good. I'm glad you got that one." His eyes catch mine and twinkle. I can see right through them.

All Photos: Narelle Carter-Quinlan: (c) Courtesy of and copyright 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

An Interview with Frank Hill

Jan.s: Frank, when did your interest in the indigenous arts of the Americas begin?

Frank: My parents, JD and Grace came to Arizona in the 1930's and worked for the Santa Fe railroad along the mainline of the Santa Fe in Winslow and Holbrook, Arizona bordering the Navajo and Hopi reservations. So I grew up with Navajo weavings and jewelry in our house.  


They had moved to Glendale, Arizona by the time my brother Fred and I were born, but we had a pass to ride the Santa Fe and would visit Winslow, the Grand Canyon, and on to see my aunt Inez in Albuquerque.  

They knew old cowboys and Navajos and  western characters.  From the time I was a kid, I've always loved the romance and history of the southwestern part of this country.  

Starting in my early 20's, influenced by the environmentalists and the writer Ed Abbey, I began hiking, backpacking and mountain climbing as a hobby and have rarely left Arizona and New Mexico in my time.  

In my youth I would rather go on a week's backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon and ended up never getting much of anywhere else. I just don't feel right without canyons, mesas and mountains and that big horizon and light that you get in this area. 

 Frank & Amy Hill...Grand Canyon 2011

In the late 1970's I was doing a reggae radio show in Phoenix on the NPR affiliate, KJZZ, which, because it was heard throughout the state of Arizona, meant I had a lot of Native American listeners, who related to the message and philosophy of that music.  

A group of Hopi invited me to Hopiland to help with having reggae concerts there.  On one of my first visits they invited me to the Kachina dance ceremonies.  Watching that happen in the plaza, watching those dancers in the plazas of the ancient Hopi villages was the most powerful spiritual experience I had ever had.  

My Hopi friend took me to see her father, who was a village elder, and I started buying Kachina dolls from him.  Remembering the Navajo weavings and objects I had grown up with, I realized I preferred old things.
For me, there is just a charm and soul in these antique pieces that speaks to me. 

Jan.s: Is there a particular piece or a collection that is of interest?

Pin Photo‏

Frank: For the last few years I have specialized in early Navajo and Pueblo jewelry, made before 1930. Jewelry, to the Navajos, was more than personal adornment, but part of their philosophy of  "Walking in Beauty" and being in harmony with the cosmos. 

Navajo Bracelets, 1900-1920

I like to think about when these pieces were made, horseback was the main form of transportation on the Navajo reservation, and silversmiths would make these incredible pieces of jewelry with a few simple tools, and primitive methods. 

Jan.s: You are based in New Mexico...I'd love you to share with us something about the other work  in your collection.

Photo from "Rugan, Hopi Katsina, circa 1910‏

Frank: I specialize in  Hopi (who are in Arizona), Navajo (who are in both AZ and NM) and Zuni and art of the Rio Grande pueblos, which are in New Mexico. Also photographs and paintings by Native and Western artists.   

I also deal in Mexican and Guatemalan folk art.  I collect and deal in masks from Mexico, Guatemala, Africa and Asia. 

Guadalupe, Retablo, Mexico, circa 1890

All photos copyright & courtesy of: Frank Hill 2011

Here is my website:

 Tigre Mask, Guatemala, circa 1880

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Interview with Miroslav Bukovsky

Jan.s  Miro, as both a player and composer you've remained a seminal figure in Australian Jazz now for several decades. Would you share with us is your ethos & inspiration behind your playing and writing....

Miro: I never think of myself as a composer really.True composers are a rare breed. They have an original musical imagination, developed sense of form, architecture, drama, texture and great skills of orchestration.

I think I am more of a faciltator of musical expression where my written ideas can be just a skeleton which invites the players to create their own version of the parts.That way the pieces will never sound the same and each performance is unique and no one really knows what is going to happen through the piece. I find that sense of adventure very satisfying. That varies to some degree depending on the band I’m writing for. I’d have to orchestrate much more accurately when I write for TPI.

My inspiration comes from all kinds of music I’ve played over the years. From European classical, folk, Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Jazz, Funk, Pop, Rock, Arabic…Miles was always a big inspiration with his exploration as well as Ornette Coleman,Jon Hassel and a bunch of Hassell inspired players from Norway. Arve Henriksen, Niels Petter Molvaer, Jon Balke and others.

But I don’t like imitation. Only inspiration and then hopefully I can come up something that I feel is a part of my imagination.

Sometimes I just dream a sound and I wake up and write it down. Insomnia. If I like it in the morning I might keep it.

Jan.s:  In 1980 I had the great good fortune of doing some study with the much revered trumpet teacher Carmine Caruoso in NY.  I'd been attending workshops with Jamie Aebersold in Sydney and US trumpet player John McNeil suggested I do some work with Carmine to help me with my breathing! Naturally I was somewhat daunted at the idea ...but John assured me that working with Carmine would be of great benefit. It was! Carmine showed the greatest respect for the individuality of the student whilst at the same time guiding one to  direct that 'wayward breath' (my quote)...with the utmost focus....! Miro, you're a teacher...can you share some aspects of your approach...

Miro: I had about 7 lessons with Carmine back in 1981 in his studio in west 46th st. Very inspiring teacher who understood the coordination, breath flow and steadiness and timing in developing something reliable on such an unreliable instrument as trumpet.

Another fantastic teacher I spent 8 months with was William Adam at Indiana University. (Randy Brecker’s old teacher)  He’s still playing in his 90’s now!

He had the most beautiful sound and he played with you in every lesson and you couldn’t avoid absorbing THAT sound.Playing became much easier,more relaxed through resonant sound with less effort and steady accelerated breath
He would make you sing and hear everything you played.So I use this in my teaching all the time. Bill Adam also had a great respect for the individual in each musician, the unique talent, and helped you to recognise it foster it.Total focus.

Miro & student Alex Rapauch

Miroslav Bukovsky, and students Alex Raupach,Pina Luzzi and Stephanie Badman

 All photos copyright (C) & courtesy of Mirsolav Bukovsky unless otherwise stated.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Part Two of an interview with Chisayo Lewis

Jan.s:   Chisayo, in our last interview you mentioned the influence both your grandmother and mother had on you with your sewing...can you tell us more...

Chisayo: Janice, I don't know where to start...Let's try to remember my grand mother first ....My grand mother was born in 1912 in a wealthy Bushi (Samurai) family. My grand mother talked a lots of stories about her childhood but I thought they were all made up stories because many of them were so unreal in many ways such as Monsters,Ghost and trick animals... .  

Her family adopted a few  Sumo wrestlers. It was a big mistake of their family... They lost all their money at the end.    

My grand mother  and grand father were arranged married. They both married before and had a child each. My grand father was born in a rich Shoya (Village headman) family in Nara. He was well educated  and good at various sports. Especially He lover the horse ridding.

After the WW2 my grandfather had a job as a calligrapher at one of famous Japanese "Ryo-tei (restaurant)" in Kyoto but pay wasn't enough to feed the family. My grand mother started sewing kimonos for support her family.

Many people started to wear Western style dress in 1950's  but still a lot of kimonos need to be made so my grand mother was working 365days a year but it wasn't a good money job.

She was a very hard working woman.  Every time I went to see my grand mother I sat next her and watched how she makes kimono. It was amazing to see. My grand mother often gave me a tiny  scraps and taught me how to make bean bags, different kind of pouches and little kimono for my doll. She taught me Origami as well. I  loved to make things with her.

My grand mother was very happy about I started learning kimono dress making.She made a beautiful special kimono for my Coming of age celebrations. She was pretty sick then but she said she wanted to make and she enjoyed to make it. This is the last photo with my grand mother.

Now I'm joining a Japan Tsunami & earthquake reconstruction sporting  project called "Project Namonai Kizuna"

( ). It's  my  friend's project. 

All photos courtesy of and copyright (c) 2011 Chisayo Lewis

Friday, October 21, 2011

An interview with Chisayo Lewis

Jan.s: Chisayo, you create objects which are whimsical and yet full of life!  How & where did your interest for creating your art  begin...?

Chisayo: My grand mother was a kimono dress maker. She gave me lots of off cuts and taught me how to make simple bags.

My mother loved  sewing and knitting also. 

I always watched them. It was amazing to see how a flat piece of material was turned into a bag, a dress, a flower, decorations...I started sewing when I was about 10.  I learnt sewing at highschool then I went to kimono dress making school and learnt how to make Kimonos.

When I had my first child 10 years ago,  I started making  soft toys for my daughter.  
One day, I made a felt cake for my daughter and she loved it very much and I was happy too, so I made another felt cake the very next day. Then I made a hamburger, a hot dog, sushi...and I kept making different things.
I especially love to work with felt because of the texture. It's easy to work with and I can ues all of my imagination in the creations.
One of my friends saw my creations and said to me that I should sell them. Then I started focusing on making things for the Art & Craft Markets.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Interview with author Alwyn Lewis

Jan.s:  Alwyn, you write about the earth with such an immense feeling of belonging. 

Alwyn: I guess I’ve always had the feeling that we belong to the earth, not the other way around.

Whenever I see those huge open cut mines I shudder at what we do to the earth for financial gain, even the weight of the cities man builds on her seem an imposition.

I remember being quite a small child in New Zealand and after an earthquake my father took me to see where the earth had opened in a great jagged scar and I wondered at that early age if the earth had cried out in pain. 

Jan s:  Your book “Call of the Currawong” begins with an aboriginal woman in a seemingly benign setting – but the story quickly unfolds to reveal cruel and devastating circumstances.

Where did the seed for this story germinate?

Alwyn: In talking with some aboriginal women it occurred to me that although their circumstances and the circumstances of my grandmother’s life were vastly different, their inner strengths were so similar.

My grandmother was placed in service at age 13, but like the aboriginal women I spoke with, she made the best of her life and added to the lives of people around her, much the way Pearl does unquestioningly in Currawong.

The saddest thing for me is that this generation of women never ever realised that they were our teachers or how valuable were the lessons they gave us in humility, caring, acceptance and just getting on with it.

We now take the opportunity for tertiary education as our due, but when some of these women were born there were no choices, no chance to move out of the situation life presented to them, and for the aboriginal women no chance to move away from the impositions life handed them, in spite of which it seemed to me that somewhere deep inside they still quietly held on to something “known”.  

I wanted to say something about that.  And of course something also had to be said about the devastating aspects of their lives.


From a Devonport with a very confused weather pattern.  One minute it’s pouring and windy, the next the sun is shining – ah the vagaries of Spring.
Janice, At the moment I’m writing some poetry for a tour we hope to do around Tasmania next year with Tony  Barry and me reading, George Golla, Howard Cairns and Laurie providing the musical backing

Photo:  Courtesy of Devonport Jazz Festival

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ships in the Field. An Interview with Susanne Gervay

Jan.s:  Susanne, you're a powerhouse of a woman who writes about issues that matter! Bullying, burn victims,  to name a few.  Can you share with us what  your currently writing ?

Susanne: Ships in the Field is my first picture book. It has been in my mind and heart for many years. 

Writing it was an emotional journey that encapsulates my growing up from a refugee family.  I wanted to give a voice to the children and families who have been through war and migration to find laughter, hope and home. 

When award winning illustrator Anna Pignataro illustrated of Ships in the Field received the manuscript she said that ‘it’s my story.’ Her family came from Italy.  It’s a gift that we were able to bring our own experiences to ‘Ships in the Field’.

It is to be published by Ford St on 1st February 2012 

Jan.s:  Susanne:  You have a working relationship with your daughter...I'd love to hear more!!!

Even though I love my daughter Tory, writing the YA novel ‘That’s Why I Wrote This Song’ with her was a difficult process of collaboration. She was 17 and when she asked me teasingly to write a book inspired by her. 

I looked around her room with its Eminem and Good Charlotte posters. Music was her lifeline during the emotional times of family breakdown and my illness.  Eminem and the rock bands expressed her anger and eventually the courage she needed to take on life.

She wrote the songs ‘Psycho Dad’ and ‘I Wanna be Found’ and gave me those songs that would drive our book during turbulent times writing the truth of father-daughter relationships, friendships, search for meaning, love, our own relationship. It was hard writing the book, testing our relationship. 

We had to be careful to respect each other's boundaries, while creating an honest creative work. There were many near disasters, but ultimately our mother-daughter relationship was the glue that kept us going.

‘That’s Why I Wrote This Song’ is about four girls connected through music. The music reflects their relationship with their fathers, each other as they move towards finding love, friendship, their future. They create their band Not Perfect. Not Perfect like them, like the world, like all relationships, as they move towards embracing their Not Perfect world.

Tory’s lyrics and music drive the narrative of the book and are integral to the characters. It was a great journey. You can hear/see her songs on youtube:-

Jan.s:  Susanne, I look forward to hearing more of what you're up to...thanks so much for giving your time!

Psycho Dad -lyrics, music and vocals by Tory Gervay  

I Wanna Be Found – lyrics, music and vocals by Tory Gervay -


The Hughenden

Photos: copyright and courtesy of Susanne Gervay

Monday, July 4, 2011

An Interview with Kate Forsyth

Jan:  Kate, I was walking recently with a friend and her very bright 6 year old daughter. I observed that the young girl had what I would call 'that zoned out look' in her eyes. I mentioned it to the girl, saying that I remembered going into that zone in my childhood. That it was an interesting space to enter. 

Being her bright little self. she tuned in and happily responded. I had the sense of her enjoying an adult's recognition of this as being important. As we approached a crossing I then said that it was equally important to tune back in to the present moment.

In a recent interview you stated that in the early stages of writing a novel you do a lot of daydreaming.  Can you share with us what this process allows for you....

Kate: Oh, yes, I’m a big believer in the power of daydreaming. I was always getting into trouble for it as a child – I had one teacher who used to whack me over the head with a ruler and sneer, ‘are you with us, Kate?’ So it gives me great satisfaction to now be a professional daydreamer. 

I can gaze out the window  as much as I like and loftily explain ‘leave me be, I’m working’. And I AM working. Although my face has a vacant expression, my mind is busy. I am thinking, wondering, imagining, planning, plotting, making connections, asking and answering questions. 

My best ideas come to me while I’m daydreaming – my mind will drift away, thoughts and memories will come unbidden, floating up from the very deepest part of my subconscious, and suddenly I will see the story illuminated and made clear. 

I always advise aspiring writers to clear a space in their day for daydreaming as well as writing. 

For me the best times are when I’m swimming up from or swimming down into sleep, or when I walk in the morning. Walking is like meditation in motion, and never fails to inspire me.

Jan:   When I first met you at the The Sydney
Children's Writers & Illustrators' Network at The Hugendon what struck me was your vibrancy and enthusiasm for literature and life!  

I hadn't read any of your books then...but recently I completed reading your YA novel The Puzzle Ring.  The Dedication you made to the women in your family,  the Makenzie clan, prior to the story, is evident throughout your sing them into being through Hannah's spirited adventures. Would you like to tell us a little more about one of these women?

Kate: I’d love to! My grandmother and great-aunts were the most fascinating women and shaped my love of stories and history more than any another influence in my life.

I was very lucky to be born into a storytelling family. 

As a little girl growing up, I was told many stories of the past, quite a few of them the old tales of the Scottish Highlands – stories of kings and queens, seals that turned into beautiful girls, giants and loch-serpents and fairies. 

These stories were passed down through the generations of my family, told to my grandmother, Joy Mackenzie-Wood, by her grandmother, Ellen Mackenzie, who was born in Scotland in 1840. 

My grandmother, who we called Nonnie, and her two elder sisters, Aunty Clarice and Aunty Gwen, were wonderful storytellers, and knew great reams of poetry off by heart. They were all very well-read– one of them was one of the first women to get a university education in Australia. They used to tell us stories about our family, and about the past. We were thrilled by the story of the ghost who patrols Eilean Donan castle with his head under his arm, and how Robert the Bruce was saved by a spider, and Bonnie Prince Charlie by a brave young woman called Flora Macdonald (this was a favourite tale of ours since our other grandmother, our father’s mother, was born Jean Macdonald).

I can remember Nonnie – who was my mother’s mother - telling me how Mary, Queen of Scots, escaped her enemies several times, once dressed as a boy, once disguised as a laundress. Another time, a gang of men broke into the queen's private sitting room and murdered her Italian secretary. 

Poor David Rizzio was stabbed fifty-six times - one stab by each of the conspirators. His blood flowed down and stained the floor where he fell, and can still be seen, four hundred and forty years later.

Mary, Queen of Scots was taken captive but she tricked her guards and escaped the palace that night, by climbing down from the windows on a rope made of knotted bedclothes.  She was seven months pregnant with the future king of Scotland. 

She rode back a week later at the head of an army, and defeated the rebels and avenged her friend. The story of the bloodstain that never fades and the queen’s escape down knotted bedclothes began my fascination with Mary, Queen of Scots. 

I began to read everything I could about Scotland and its most tragic queen, and many of our family’s stories link back to her. 

When I was a little girl, my mother taught me and my sister how to make marmalade from oranges we grew in our garden. She told me marmalade got its name when it was made for Mary, Queen of Scots, who was very seasick travelling from France to Scotland as a young woman (‘Marie malade’ is French for ‘Mary is ill’.) Apparently our family was even related to the royal Stuarts, though every aristocratic Scottish family can probably say the same.

Then, of course, there was the story of my grandmother’s grandmother, Ellen Mackenzie, just as romantic and tragic as any my grandmother told me.

Orphaned when only a girl, she and her sister Jane were sent to Australia in 1858 by her uncle, who took control of the family estate. My sister and I always thought this was most unfair, and used to dream about going back to Scotland and winning back Ellen’s home as our own. 

In our imagination Ellen and Jane were wronged, the uncle was cruel, and her home was a beautiful old castle, on the shores of a loch, with all sorts of romantic secrets waiting to be discovered. We hoped that one day a mysterious letter would arrive, summoning us back to Scotland and our lost inheritance …      

I wrote a novel with just that storyline in 1977, when I was eleven years old, called Far, Far Away, about a girl called Fiona who finds herself heir to a castle in Scotland, but will lose everything if she cannot find the lost Killarney Treasure. And then, thirty years later, I wrote it again, showing just how compelling are the tales of our childhood. 

Jan.s:  In The Puzzle Ring you explore a number of themes, a curse that effects several generations...the absence of a father, blossoming love, friendship, old age and the getting of wisdom. 

Would you like to share  your interest re the 'curse' and it's denouement for your protagonist Hannah?

Kate: I’ve always been interested in spells and curses and wishes as manifestations of the power of words. Many of my books have curses in them (as well as spells and wishes!) I’m also interested in the nature of fate, and whether we as individuals have the power to shape our destiny. The story of a girl who sets out to break a curse on her family was therefore always going to be interesting to me. 

I had had the idea for a quest to find a broken puzzle ring for some time, but my problem was always why? Why would someone need to find a broken puzzle ring? Then I found ‘The Book of Curses’ in an old second-hand bookshop and read in it the story of the Seaforth Doom, a famous Scottish curse, and at once thought: a quest to break a curse! 

The two ideas just seemed to click together, as if drawn by some irresistible magnetic force. I went home and began work on the Puzzle Ring that very afternoon. (You can read more about the inspirations behind ‘The Puzzle Ring’ here:  

Jan.s:  Where did your love of the  mythical begin Kate? 

Kate: I always loved fairy tales and myths as a child, and fantasy books were my favourite kind of fiction. My mother went back to university and studied anthropology when I was a teenager, and that fed my interest in myth and magic. I can’t tell you why – my imagination has always been drawn to that kind of tale.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Awakened State - Tibetan Mantras by Bruno Libert and Janice Slater

Some years back, whilst confronting a major illness, I was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism, through a fortuitous & timely introduction to my teacher (the late) Gyalsey Tulku Rinpoche (Sakya lineage). I remain in gratitude.

In the lovely  harbour side suburb of Balmain, Rinpoche would give teachings on Chenrezig practise. Chenrezig is the Buddha of Compassion.

I have to admit that I found the practise challenging, beautiful and obscure and a lot of other gradations in between! I was suffering the effects of illness and my stamina was almost non existent and we would recite the practise several times in Tibetan, finally completing it in English!  Although I was eager to traverse the nuances of a language that was completely foreign to me, the practises were lengthy and tiring.  Along with this the framework of the practise was outside anything I'd encountered. Here I was, ill with an uncertain  future, being asked to develop a compassion that reached far beyond my own concerns along with developing ...'the perfection of body, voice and  mind'.  This seemed an impossibility along with an improbability!

Since those days  I have  received the Chenrezig empowerment a number of times. Now I understand that this is a life long practise. I can make no claims to comprehending and experiencing the many subtleties of this practise but I have experienced a sense of peace and well being. 

My intention in developing the mantras for 'Awakened State' with my friend Bruno,  was to give thanks and gratitude foremost to my teacher Gyalsey Tulku Rinpoche and to the many great and kind teachers who followed.  Also to share with those who helped me through such difficult times.

I am indebted also to Bruno Elevteros Libert for his artistry, musical intelligence and guidance and to his  partner, Diane Sutherland for her superb vocals as well as developing wonderful mandala drawings for our project.  John Paul Gilius joined me in chanting a number of the mantras. Although he was unfamiliar with them at the time, he sang them with great good will and enthusiasm.  Thank you JP!

I'd also  like to share some thoughts written  by Bruno .  

'Janice and I got back in touch a couple of years ago, after having worked together in Esperanto Rock Orchestra...30 years ago. We started this Mantra "cyberspace" project via the internet between Australia and Belgium when Janice sent me her vocals/sound files by e-mail! I then put together and recorded the backing tracks in Brussels and Patmos. And here are the results of our collaboration. All "nature" sounds (some have been processed) like rain, wind, sea, birds songs etc..I used in the tracks were recorded in Patmos'.  Bruno Elevteros Libert.

The collection is called: AWAKENED STATE:  Chenrezig:  The Buddha of Compassion 

Chenrezig embodies crystalline awareness and limitless compassion.

The mantra of Chenrezig is:

Om Mani Padme Hum.  

Homage to the Lotus Born

All of the wonderful mandala drawings developed for 'Awakened State': courtesy of & copyright of Diane Sutherland 2011

Buddh: (c) janice slater

You might like to visit his website on the  link provided below and hear some of the mantras we co created along with the superb English soprano, Diane Sutherland, and quirky guest vocalist, Blue Mountains DJ and resident  John Paul Gillius.

I've also added a link to Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Part Two: An Interview with Jack Clift

Jan.s: Jack, 'Pale Imperfect Diamond' the CD you and John Carter Cash co-wrote/produced for your first Cedar Hills Refugees project,  was a standout.   You brought together musicians from the USA and Uzbekistan and now I believe you've completed a second CD. Could you tell us a about it?

James Shelton (Ralph's guitarist and manager), Chuck Turner (engineer), Jack Clift, JCC, Dr. Ralph Stanley 

Jack:  I spent three months in Uzbekistan this past winter working on the material. I'm actually about halfway through the next -as yet untitled- Cedar Hill Refugees album. John brings a definite presence to the music. In addition to his wonderful crew of talented folks, he's also just a very sweet guy and I value his creative instincts.

We've co-written a new ballad that we're very proud of called Jayne Hill. We wrote it early in the year out at Mother Maybelle Carter's house, which JCC keeps up as a sort of writers retreat. It's a shoe-in for the, as yet untitled, Cedar Hill Refugees part two.

Jan.s: Are you following similar directions as 'Pale Imperfect Diamond'?

Jack: The new album is shaping up to be more than just an extension of our previous project. Though we do have many of the same players and singers -Ralph Stanley has given us a couple of really amazing performances and The Peasalls have done two songs.

Sarah, Hannah and Leah Peasall

We are bringing in a couple of new (for us) singers. Dave Evans from Kentucky and Elizabeth LaPrelle out of southwest Virginia are coming in for sessions next month.

Dave Evans, JC, JCC, Elizabeth LaPrelle

I'm just thrilled and extremely humbled to be a part of this. Some incendiary process occurs when these two musical traditions co-mingle. It's absolute magic to see how they illuminate each other from different angles.

Director, arranger and sound engineer Zakirjan Atabaev, Matrasul Matyoqubov (reeds), JNC

Utkur Kadirov (fiddle) Sayram Studio, Tashkent, Uzbekistan 2011

Jan.s: Jack, when you began the second CD you hoped that  Roseanne Cash may come on board....can you tell us about that session...?   

Jack: John Carter Cash and I have been doing a yearly pilgrimage out to Mother Maybelle Carter's home in SW Virginia.
It's a very remote locale and absolutely steeped in musical history. Generally we do some co-writing and brain-storming out there and the geography tends to really seep into our writing. 

In February of 2010 we came up with a ballad called Jayne Hill, named after a local geologic feature. John had told me that his sister, Rosanne, had really liked our first project and had been a little miffed that we hadn't asked her to participate. So, we definitely had her in mind for this tune. 

In June of last year John called me from New York where he was attending a publishing event and informed me that Rosanne had heard the song and wanted to sing it. In fact, she'd already reserved the studio for later that week so I had to hop on a plane the next day. 

JC & Rosanne her songstress daughter, Chelsea Crowell and JCC. NYC 2010

This was a session I was not going to miss. I found her to be a truly sweet, deeply intelligent woman with a very cool attitude. It was such a thrill watching her develop and color the narrative. Sam Bush is playing mandolin on the track and James Shelton (Ralph Stanley's guitarist and manger) is playing acoustic guitar.It was a great favorite in Tashkent this year.

Jan.s:  Jack would you like to tell us about the  most recent sessions in there? If you could share with us  some of the history of the players you're working with and where the studio is located?

Jack: Last November I traveled to Simferopol, Ukraine to begin the transnational phase of production with guitar prodigy, Enver Izmaylov.
In December I continued east to Tashkent, Uzbekistan to join with the members of Jadoo and complete that portion of operations. I spent the next two months in awe observing the batch of songs transform with the Mongol-Turkic influences of the Uzbek masters.

We recorded at Sayram Studio owned by famed Afghan singer/composer Amir Jan Sabori.
The recording engineer, Zakir Atabaev, is also a superb composer, arranger and conductor. It was my first time working with him and I must say, he was so inspiring on every level. Just a wonderful guy that brought out the best in all the crew. His contributions can not be overstated.

I wish I had a coherent list of the accomplishments of all the Uzbek players who contributed. It would fill a book.

Jan.s: .Jack, I appreciate you taking the time to share this part of your journey with us.

Jack: Thanks so much for your interest. I'd also like to plug our newly unveiled video, Keys To The Kindom.  We've also got a video of the Peasall sisters, Wife of usher's Well in the final editing stage that will be released in the next week or so.  Most importantly we are still seeking sponsorship[ for a concert documentary.

 In order to introduce you to the background to Jack Clift and John Carter Cash's project 'Cedar Hills Refugees'... I've taken the liberty of taking a quote from Jack's myspace page, link as below:

'When Jack Clift first heard traditional Uzbek music, it didn’t seem exotic or alien to him. Instead, it reminded him of the mountain music, blues and swing that he’s loved since childhood. The colorful costumes, tempos and emotional fervor of the Uzbek musicians and their audience brought to his mind old episodes of "The Buck Owens Ranch," a syndicated show that was taped in Clift’s hometown of Oklahoma City. Therefore, it only seemed natural to Clift to bring these sounds together. Working with John Carter Cash, son of Johnny and June Carter Cash, Clift and his Uzbek band Jadoo recorded musical backdrops for some of the finest talents in American country music, including internationally respected mountain singer Ralph Stanley (recipient of the 2006 National Medal of Arts), country music icon Marty Stuart, The Peasall Sisters (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Down from the Mountain), Randy Scruggs, Ronnie McCoury, John Cowan, Greg Leisz, and Ron Miles. This wide array of talent formed the group Cedar Hill Refugees'.