Image Credits: Black Jesus Experience © Bram Lammers
December 27, 2020
“To Know Without Knowing” is the last recording collaboration of the Australian band Black Jesus Experience and the Ethiopian artist Mulatu Astatke. We asked Peter Harper and Ian Dixon to tell us about how this project was carried out.
> Ivano Rossato
There’s a constant stream of new compositions being created by the band and its members, Peter Harper in particular is prolific in this respect. Black Jesus Experience has performed at a weekly residency at The Horn in Collingwood for more than a decade, a rare situation these days, where BJX is able to compose, workshop, and refine pieces in a live situation. (Ian Dixon)
Peter Harper: BJX is a live working band we play every week and we rehearse on a regular basis. Arrangements are quite simple, those members with ideas that compliment a particular song are usually featured on that song. Or the song might be written to feature one or more members. Having regular performances enables us to road test the material and adapt the different elements. As a composer for BJX I write with the band and its members in mind. Many hours of workshopping and sectional rehearsals are necessary before we are happy. The band has a number of prolific writers so have very little trouble finding new music. We also like to rework Ethio standards and classics Jazz.
Peter Harper: Our relationship with Mulatu began in 2009 as we progress it feels more like a collaboration. In the early days we were concentrating on Mulatu’s original repertoire. We then started introducing some arrangement of Ethiopian classics and a couple of original pieces. As time passed we performed more of these classics and original pieces live. On our two recordings we were able to include a number of our own works and arrangements. Mulatu’s genius and generosity has been an absolute pleasure to be around and we hope that we can continue to learn from the master.
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