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- Posted on Aug 25th 2010 2:30PM by Jesse Ship
Strange words to hear from the man who has been credited with coining the term 'Acid Jazz' in London in the '80s and has released a slew of jazz and rare groove compilations, but music guru Peterson remains candid and self-aware of his nerdy passion.
"I got into jazz thanks to a pirate radio station called Invicta that played guys like Herbie Hancock and George Duke during their jazz/funk/disco periods. There was a steady progression starting from there, but it wasn't like I woke up one day and thought, 'Don Cherry's the man!' But now all I listen to is free jazz," he jokes.
While his tastemaking podcast, 'Gilles Peterson Worldwide,' and BBC Radio 1 show are still going strong, Gilles is currently touring and collaborating with Havana Cultura, a Cuban organization dedicated to promoting Cuban arts and cultural innovators like photographers, architects, painters and musicians through the web.
After being invited to curate content on the organization's website, Gilles was asked to help put together a sort of supergroup of Cuban talent to record an album and tour the globe under the banner of Havana Cultura. "I'd never been to Cuba before. Of course, I was a fan of the classic Cuban jazz sound, but there was a lot of fast-tracking involved for me as I was exposed to the new Cuban sounds of jazz, hip-hop, reggaeton and R&B.
The band, under the guidance and musical arrangement of Peterson and sometime-Buena Vista Social Club pianist Roberto Fonseca, proceeded to record a multi-faceted album that would reflect modern Cuba. "We recorded in a solid four days at the legendary Egrem Studio, where a lot of Buena Vista Social Club [music] was recorded. It's probably the Electric Ladyland of Havana." Other key artists involved are rap groups Obsesión, Ogguere and sultry vocalist Danay, whom Peterson had just met.
"I've been to a lot of places around the world. Going to Cuba definitely gave me a lift in terms of the amount of passion people had for music, how much it was in their lives," he explains. "Maybe I was lucky, but I've never worked with people who had such a strong desire to make something so great."
When releasing and playing music is a full time job, it can be hard to keep the spark alive. Peterson divulges, "Some of the selections for the CD were prepared; some of it was just instinct. I have responsibilities to keep turning out music, but if I overthink it, then I won't be able to listen and enjoy it the way people naturally should. It's a weird combination of things. I just sort of go with the flow."