Myles Sanko is speaking to me on Zoom from the south of France. He lives there now – has done for a couple of years – just 10 minutes from the border with Spain, some 40 minutes away from Girona and 90 from Barcelona, in the Pyrénées-Orientales. To his right he can see the mountains; to his left is the sea. He’s never been a city dweller, he says:
“I love being in the middle of nowhere, just enjoying nature,” he explains, happily. “I’ve got forest all around me. If I walk up my garden and keep going, I’d be in Spain in about an hour-and-a-half – just a stroll into the hills. So it’s a nice balance: I’m well connected, but at the same time remote too. It’s pretty cool.”
Back here in Lockdown London, it certainly sounds like heaven. Myles used to reside in Cambridge. Why the sudden switch?
“Oh, a change of life, y’know. Seeking the sun was a part of it… and getting closer to the French side of my family as well. I just like running away every once in a while… ”
More than leaves fell in February. In a single week Mary Wilson, Milford Graves and Chick Corea were gone, robbing black music of icons whose achievements went far beyond soul, avant-garde and jazz, the genres with which they were, respectively, synonymous. One loss was keenly felt.
“My name is Logan Corea Richardson, I was named after Chick Corea. Nobody in my family plays music… they didn‘t really listen to jazz. It’s just that my father’s favourite pianist was Chick Corea and I got Corea as a middle name. So yeah [his passing has really left me kind of fucked up].”
Alto saxophonist-composer-bandleader Richardson is speaking via zoom in his lounge-cum-studio in Rome, an indirect link to Corea’s Italian ancestry. This is the latest leg of an epic journey through Europe that has included sojourns in Galicia and Paris, where Richardson spent five years. Given the city’s historic standing as a beacon for African-American artists with pens, horns and keys, it is no surprise that the residence gave him a chance to play with legends Sunny Murray and Bobby Few…
During her years as resident singer and later MC at New York’s infamous burlesque-meets-shock-meets-music/comedy club The Box, Acantha Lang grew used to manhandling – her word – members of the audience. For some reason the following occasion seems to have stuck in her mind:
“When Topshop launched in New York City back in 2009, its boss Phillip Green booked the entire crew at The Box to do the after party. It was a private event and there were so many A-listers there – Debbie Harry, J-Lo… lots of people. As part of my act I would go out into the audience singing a blues song and kinda involve one of the customers in the routine… y’know, rough ‘em up a bit. We called it giving them the ‘Car Wash’. And so this night the owner comes to me and asks would I go over and make a fuss of Kate Moss. ‘Yeah, sure boss’.
“Anyway, I was looking out for her from the balcony… and that’s when I saw Simon Cowell… ”
Musicians, as we know, come in all shapes and sizes, and with a wide range of personality types and predilections. A year lost to COVID has affected all of them. But spare a thought for those who only truly feel alive running on stage to grab a mic or hit those first chords. For them, nothing can replace the roar of a crowd and the adrenaline that comes from performing. These poor souls, who’ve spent the last 12 months without a fix can’t wait for an end to lockdown.
Gentleman’s Dub Club play an electrifying fusion of dub, rockers and rave music [with live horns] and if you can’t party at their concerts, there’s definitely something wrong. Since they’re not your typical reggae act, there are no profound expressions of protest, religious proselyting or ghetto swagger. They don’t sing about Rastafari and there’s not so much as a hint of patois in the vocals. They have normal haircuts, sport white shirts, black ties and black trousers, and look more like a bunch of office workers out for a laugh in their lunch break than a reggae band…