My first trip to Africa was to Mali ,West Africa. I was always scared to go to Africa even though all my friends and students had already gone and the reports were always very positive. I was scared of getting sick. I heard the horror stories of people getting sick there, the poor hospitals, bad conditions and everything else. But in the back of my mind since I first started playing in the 70’s I knew I would go, I knew I had to go. I was just waiting for the right timing,
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Many people often ask me “what was it like to study and travel in Guinee”? And “where did you like better Guinee or Mali”? I love both places to study and live but for different reasons. In Guinee I stayed with the late great Kemoko Sano and his family at his compound in Merveilles. I went to Guinea with an old friend who was traveling with me in Mali. But my friend did not like it there so he left after a few days to another compound. It was very interesting for me to stay in a place where no one spoke english except my teacher whose english was barely understandable at best.
This last month I had the good fortune to be able to go to Bali once again. My focus was on teaching west african drum classes in Ubud and also playing with every band I could sit in with or gig (work) with. I had no idea that the musicians and drummers I would meet would be so receptive and talented. I had many interesting and surprising moments and experiences there as well.
Studying drums in another culture part one Cuba 1985 If you have been playing any type of ethnic drums for any amount of time the fantasy of playing in another land or even performing has probably cross dour mind. For years I watched friends and even students of mine crossing the borders of other countries to study live and learn by immersion and non western ways. They inevitably came back full and excited. I listened to the cassette tapes in the early days before video cameras and then watched their videos later. I knew it was my destiny to travel and to study and to some how share what I learned and even somehow introduce some of the experiences and people I had met along the way with others outside …