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Emo Remembers John Mayer
I was deeply shocked to learn of a fatal car crash that killed John Mayer. I don't know the details of what happened but I do know that the World of Music has lost a great contributor to "World Music".
John came to my attention in the mid sixties when he was leading a very original ensemble called "Indo Jazz Fusions." They used all the traditional Indian instruments along with Jazz players such as Jamaican sax player Joe Harriott to create highly original music that was literally East meeting West.
We did a television show around '67 with John conducting The Nice with a chamber orchestra. We performed my arrangement of Bach's Brandenburg in G which we called "Brandenburger". I don't think there is a copy of the TV show anywhere. Later "The Nice" played an unusual London concert at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. John was a great violin player, having played with both the London Philharmonic Orchestra and The Liverpool Philharmonic. John and I performed the Rondo.Allegro from Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole as a duo-John on violin, me on piano. It was a great test of sight-reading for me but John was very encouraging and together we got through it.
When I was writing my 1st Piano Concerto I linked up with John again to work together on the orchestration. I'd motorcycle up to his modest London abode armed with sketched manuscripts all in concert pitch and we'd sit together at the piano - John advising me of which members of the orchestra would be more suited for a particular part. We were both Scorpios but generally we worked very happily together. We only had two slight disagreements. I'd written a passage in triplets and John, having been born in Calcutta and also studied Indian Music there, wanted it written in talas because it would give more accent to certain notes. I said that The London Philharmonic would find this confusing and I was proved right at the first rehearsal. The passage was changed back to triplets. After my piano concerto was released I was listening to BBC Radio 3 in my car. A live concert with the London Phil was being broadcast from the Royal Festival Hall. They were playing a work that they had commissioned John to write and the last movement sounded suspiciously like the last movement of my concerto. I called John up the next day. I was angry. Unfortunately we had a shouting match. But I decided not to pursue it further. John was such a gentle soul I didn't have the heart.
Just recently he reformed Indo Jazz Fusions with his son Jonathan on Sitar. To great acclaim they were back and doing well selling out theatres and jazz clubs. Sadly, I missed one of their London Gigs as I was touring myself. I'll always remember at the end of our music sessions he'd say, "Well, I suppose now we could partake of that 'Nectar of the Gods' that you brought over" - nodding in the direction of a bottle of cognac.
�Bhagwan Tera Saatch Rahe�
Keith Emerson
March 16, 2004
Last update: 11 Aug 2008
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