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Face to faceis the brainchild of movie composer Alex Heffes (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play). Six extraordinary artists in six extraordinary locations go Face to Face with Alex in a series of one-on-one improvised duets. Recorded by Grammy Award-winning producer Peter Henderson and captured on film by photographer Rama Knight, Face to Face is a unique musical journey spanning 3 continents in search of the source of musical inspiration.

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alex heffes

Alex HeffesAlex Heffes has scored many major award-winning movies including THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, STATE OF PLAY, INSIDE JOB, THE RITE, TOUCHING THE VOID and ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER. Originally classically trained at Oxford University, he has also worked with bands and producers on many film and record projects. He was awarded the Ivor Novello for best film score of the year in 2012 for his score to THE FIRST GRADER and was named discovery of the Year at the World Soundtrack Awards in 2011. He has also been nominated for BAFTA, European Film Academy, ASCAP, NAACP and Black Reel Awards and his music has been performed at concert halls around the world.

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Ryuichi SakamotoMusician, composer, record producer, writer, singer, pianist, and actor, the name Ryuichi Sakamoto will mean different things to different people. However, all his fans will agree, he brings something truly unique to each project that he extends his many
talents to.

Go to ryuichi's face to face page
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Yasmin LevyIsraeli born singer Yasmin Levy treads a musical path that stretches back 500 years or more, taking Ladino to Andalusia and mixing it with flamenco.

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Kawesa"Spirit of Africa" was Ugandan-born Kawesa's breakout album in Africa. The title sums up Kawesa's music, and his personality. Fiercely proud of his traditional Ugandan heritage, and passionate about writing songs around social issues, he truly embodies the musical spirit of his people.

Go to kawesa's face to face page
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Regina SpektorRolling Stone called Regina Spektor “this generation’s Joni Mitchell.” She has sold out venues worldwide including New York's Radio City Music Hall, Los Angeles’ Greek Theater, London’s Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House. Time Magazine noted “Spektor has one of those capital-v Voices that sticks out no matter what genre, what song, what compilation you put
them in.”

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Matthew BarleyMatthew's musical world is one of adventure, collaboration, and diversity. One of the finest cellists of his generation, Matthew has appeared as soloist, with orchestras and in recital in many of the world's greatest concert halls and is equally comfortable in making music with Indian, Sufi, African, Jazz musicians, or London's Grime MCs.

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Tunde JegedeTunde Jegede is one of the foremost exponents of his generation of the Kora (the West African Harp-Lute). A sought after composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Tunde is uniquely placed between the worlds of African, Classical and Pop music.

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Alex Heffes

Alex Heffes is an award-winning British film composer. He originally rose to prominence with his scores to Kevin Macdonald's Academy Award-winning films ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND and BAFTA-winning TOUCHING THE VOID. More recent scores include Peter Webber's forthcoming historic epic EMPEROR, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox, THE RITE starring Anthony Hopkins, Charles Ferguson's Academy Award-winning INSIDE JOB, Catherine Hardwicke's fantasy thriller RED RIDING HOOD and the upcoming feature THE TOMB, starring Sylvester Stallone Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

After graduating from Oxford with a first-class degree, Alex first worked as writer and arranger on projects covering the musical spectrum from steel band to symphony orchestra with artists such as Elton John and members of Blur. His versatility as a composer has led to a busy and varied movie-scoring career spanning musical boundaries. His score to STATE OF PLAY starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren featured a collaboration with classic British rock producer Flood. During the scoring of THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND Alex traveled to Uganda to record and produce many of the bands featured on the soundtrack. Other scores include the HBO drama "Tsunami" (for which Alex was nominated for a BAFTA award), DEAR FRANKIE (Miramax Films), the Warner Bros thriller TRAUMA, starring Colin Firth and Mena Suvari, IMAGINE ME AND YOU (Fox Searchlight) and Steve Coogan's hi-jinx comedy THE PAROLE OFFICER. He collaborated with director Tim Burton on his screen adaptation of SWEENEY TODD starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.

Alex's scores have been nominated for BAFTA, Ivor Novello, European Film Academy, NAACP, Black Reel and ASCAP awards. In 2011 he was awarded discovery of the year by the World Soundtrack Academy and in 2012 was awarded best film score of the year at the Ivor Novello Awards in London.

In concert Alex's music has been performed by the CBSO at Symphony Hall Birmingham and at venues as diverse as the London Jazz Festival, the Edinburgh Festival and the Sangat Music Festival in Mumbai. In 2003 he was invited to the Sultanate of Oman to attend the premiere of his overture commissioned by the Oman Royal Symphony Orchestra.

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Location: Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

Yasmin Levy

Israeli born singer Yasmin Levy treads a musical path that stretches back 500 years or more, taking Ladino to Andalusia and mixing it with flamenco. "I am proud to combine the two cultures of Ladino and flamenco" she says, "while mixing in Middle Eastern influences… the style that still bears the musical memories of the old Moorish and Jewish-Spanish world with the sound of the Arab world. In a way it is a ‘musical reconciliation’ of history."

Reconciling multiple traditions is Yasmin's hallmark. Born into a musical family, Yasmin's father was a pioneer researcher into the long and rich history of Ladino music. The Ladino language evolved from medieval Spanish which was later mixed with elements of Hebrew and Aramaic, Arabic and Turkish influences and this heady cocktail of cultures is the essence of Yasmin's musical language. It's no surprise then that her ability to speak to international audiences has made her a star in many different countries. Her first album, Romance and Yasmin created a stir among World Music fans and three subsequent albums have led to a global following with sold-out performances at Sydney Opera House, London's Covent Garden and Israel's National Opera as well as WOMAD festivals in Europe and Asia and innumerable appearances at venues throughout north America and Europe.

Her deeply spiritual and striking voice has led to many awards. Three timed nominated for the BBC world music awards, she also charted in the top 10 pop charts in Europe, showing that her appeal crosses musical boundaries. Her album Mano Suave features a memorable duet with Natascha Atlas in which Arabic interweaves stunningly with Yasmin's Spanish vocals. It's this ability to draw together different cultural and musical worlds that led to Yasmin being named Goodwill Ambassador for Children of Peace, which strives to alleviate the plight of children caught up in the Middle-East crisis. In 2006 Yasmin was awarded the Anna Lindh Award for promoting cross-cultural dialogue. This award reflects her hopes and dreams for the future that "people will have more compassion towards each other" - a hope which speaks through her music.

Holywell Music Room, Oxford

The last session on Face to Face took me back to my student roots in Oxford. As a young undergraduate I'd heard many concerts in the Holywell Music Room. I knew that it was  probably the oldest-purpose built concert hall in the UK and that composes and musicians had trodden it's wooden floorboards for more than 200 years. It is built in the shape of an semi circle which also lends a theatrical quality to the space. Perfect, I thought for the profound and theatrical voice of Yasmin Levy.

Yasmin has been holding audiences in the palm of her hand for many years, and although I'd never seen her live I knew a session with her would be a memorable way to finish the project. As it happens, my own grandmother was raised speaking the ancient Ladino language that Yasmin has made her own on the concert stage. When Yasmin and talked we discovered we had a long list of food and songs that we both loved in common. So recording with Yasmin was like playing with a long lost friend. So much so that it's hard to believe the music was totally improved on the spot. The song "En Querida" was a one one-take wonder. It came out with no pause or hesitation and needed not a single edit. It just happened.

We only recorded a handful of songs on that day in Oxford as time was tight. Yasmin was midway through a European tour and only passing through London for a day. Yet each song we did appeared from nowhere with ease. The other song we chose to represent that day, "Me Miro" came equally freely. In fact, I really don't remember recording it at all. When we listened to it back after some time we told each other "we've made a beautiful thing, but we're we there?". It seems as if the music came from somewhere else.

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Location: Lightbox, East Bronx, NYC

Regina Spektor

Since emerging on the NYC café circuit in 2001, the Russian-born, Bronx-bred artist Regina Spektor has been hailed as a truly special talent whom Rolling Stone recently called “her generation’s Joni Mitchell.” With an uninhibited imagination and acute sense of detail both in music and words, Spektor has long since gone from practicing on an out of tune piano in the basement of her local synagogue and hypnotizing small crowds on NYC's Lower East Side. In recent years, she’s moved on to enchanting worldwide crowds across the globe, selling out historic venues including New York's Radio City Music Hall, Los Angeles’ Greek Theater, London’s Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House.

Spektor continues to showcase her amazing ability to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary with her unique vocal style, provocative songwriting and prodigious piano skills accumulated through years of classical training. Spektor released What We Saw from the Cheap Seats this May on Sire/Warner Bros. Records to an overwhelming response from fans, landing at #3 on the Billboard Album Chart. The New Yorker said “Her lyrical pop style is personal, poignant, and wise, and never lacking in lighthearted moments” while Time Magazine noted “Spektor has one of those capital-v Voices that sticks out no matter what genre, what song, what compilation you put them in.”

Spektor has headlined tours globally as well as opening for acts like The Strokes, Kings of Leon and, most recently, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. She has made countless worldwide television appearances, including Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, Good Morning America, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Conan, Later With Jools Holland, and BBC Breakfast. Spektor is currently touring worldwide in support of What We Saw from the Cheap Seats.

Lightbox, East Bronx, NYC

When I first met Regina Spektor over lunch to talk about Face to Face she was very curious and intrigued but a little skeptical abut the idea. "What will we do, and where would we do it?" she asked. "Just leave it to me" I said (not having any idea at all), I'll find us a great inspiring space.

Some months later I found myself back in new York, this time in the East Bronx inside a large empty dock warehouse. It was midway through the stifling New York summer and I'd brought with me an antique pump organ (you pump the pedals with your feet) and a celeste to go with the broken piano we'd found in the corner of the room.  For two hours before Regina arrived a jack hammer had been drilling through a concrete floor in the next building leaving me, Peter and Rama almost deafened from the overwhelming noise. As luck would have it, the drilling did stop shortly before we began recording, or all would have been lost. However, there was little we could  do about the heat. The glass roof of the building had created a furnace inside. We opened whatever windows we could, hoping that passing trucks wouldn't be a problem for noise.

When we finally started experimenting with some music we had a few of Banksy's graffiti pictures laid out in front of us on the instruments for inspiration. One of them, "Girl with a Red Balloon" soon became the inspiration for a song. Regina's incredible breathy, dreamy voice inspired by the picture left us with a fragile and beautiful song. This is how The track "Balloon Girl" was born. You'll hear the out of tune piano on that track that we found in the building. We didn't attempt to get it tuned, it sounded just right as it was. Some months later Chinese animator Yibi Hu created the wonderful short film to go with the music.

After recording Balloon Girl we took a break as there was an air conditioner in the back room where our recording equipment was set up. We sat there sucking up the cold air coming out of the unit in a daze. I went back into the room and opened some more windows to try and let in some more air. We started playing again together this time swapping instruments and continued searching for a song, when a blackbird landed on the open windowsill, obviously attracted by the high tones of the celeste. And while we played it sang, and continued to sing. So we formed a trio with the blackbird, creating the track "Birdsong". You will hear it sing throughout the track In the background. We'd gone looking for a magical moment, and we had found one.

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Location: Right Track Studios, NYC

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Musician, composer, record producer, writer and pianist, the name Ryuichi Sakamoto will mean different things to different people. However, all his fans will agree, he brings something truly unique to each project that he extends his many talents to.

He began his career in 1978 as a member of the pioneering electronic music group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) where he played keyboards and was occasional vocalist. The band was an international success, with worldwide hits such as "Computer Game / Firecracker" and "Behind the Mask". After YMO disbanded in 1983 he began acting, coming to international acclaim with his role as the conflicted Captain Yonoi in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence starring alongside David Bowie. His song "Forbidden Colours" from the film became a worldwide hit and he won a BAFTA Award for the film's score. He later won an Academy Award and Grammy Award for scoring The Last Emperor and subsequently two Golden Globe Awards.

Collaboration has been an important part of his career, and he has produced a stunning variety of work with artists as diverse as David Sylvian, David Byrne, Thomas Dolby, Nam June Paik, and Iggy Pop. 1999 saw the long-awaited release of Sakamoto's "opera" LIFE. It premiered with seven sold-out performances in Tokyo and Osaka. In confirmation of his cult status for a younger generation of musicians, the electronica music label Ninja Tune released a series of remixes of Sakomoto's work Discord, produced by a number of prominent electronica artists, including Amon Tobin, Talvin Singh and DJ Spooky.

His body of work is marked by extraordinary breadth and a constant striving for new modes of expression. It is no hyperbole to describe Sakamoto as an icon.

Right Track Studios, NYC

On the list of inspiring musical cities New York has to be pretty high up. So if was inevitable that we should plan a session there. After the logistical problem of getting a piano pushed up a hill in Uganda, we thought perhaps the challenge of wrangling two grand pianos in New York outside of a studio may get the better of us. So Ryuichi suggested we record at his favourite spot,  Right Track studio on the Upper West side of Manhattan. It turned out to be one of the last sessions the legendary studio held before finally closing its doors forever.

Ryuichi had previously asked what I wanted to do for the session, and when I turned up, fresh off a trans-Atlantic flight with no music in hand he looked at me and laughed: "Good!" he said. All we knew was that we would have 2 grand pianos set up (dulling pianos style) in the centre of the grand live room. We set some rugs on the floor to dampen the sound a little and began to play. We had a lot of fun and did some pretty wild stuff all morning, but I wasn't sure we'd yet found our stride. We took a break for lunch, and as we ate the most enormous storm broke outside. In fact the rain was coming down so hard over Manhattan that we could hear water flowing over the roof of the studio like a river! When we finished lunch, and the rain was still strong we could could still hear it in the studio. "What shall we do?" asked Ryuichi. "Raindrops" I replied without thinking. And so he stared playing, inspired by the sound of the rain. This track became "Manhattan Rain".

We recorded much material that day. It was an incredible experience. In fact, we had so much material on tape that I wondered for some time quite what to do with it. A few months later I was working on another movie soundtrack with legendary British record producer Flood (U2/Sigur Ros/Nine Inch Nails). After a late session one night I played Flood some of the material from the New York session. From that we created a re-mix of one track with Flood's inimitable drum and guitar sound backing up the duelling pianos. All the synth sounds you hear on the track are actually derived from chopping up the original pianos and processing them through a load of magic boxes. This track, a unique collaboration between 2 Composers and a record producer across two continents became "Freeflow".

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Location: Kampala, Uganda

Kawesa

"Spirit of Africa" was Ugandan-born Kawesa's breakout album in Africa. The title sums up Kawesa's music, and his personality. Fiercely proud of his traditional Ugandan heritage, and passionate about writing songs around social issues, he truly embodies the musical spirit of his people.

Kawesa was born in Entebbe, just southwest of Uganda's capital city Kampala. At the age of 10, Kawesa (meaning "The Songsmith") joined the sensational African Children's Choir. This proved to be a momentous turn in his musical life. For the following two years he toured abroad with the choir, visiting 48 states in the USA and 6 out of 9 provinces in Canada. On returning to Uganda, Kawesa formed a band called Revival Flames and subsequently received invitations to sing for the King of Toro Kingdom. Local fame began to spread wider when he won East Africa's leading Star Search singing competition in Nairobi. Concerts, albums and film soundtracks have followed. (He was featured as solo vocalist on the Oscar Winning Film "The Last King of Scotland" and most recently he featured on some of the leading tracks in the movie “The First Grader”)

However, Kawesa has always kept his music close to home and the causes he holds dear. He has founded numerous charitable organisations and projects in Africa. Some of these projects include www.cityyange.com and www.imani-foundation.org. In 2003, Kawesa founded a group of artists commonly known as the "Musicians Community" who offer their time and energy to social work especially in the fields of HIV/AIDS, clean water supply, peace, and poverty eradication. Kawesa has also consulted for the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in the area of School Feeding and Chronic Hunger as well as for the World Bank in Sanitation-related work.

It's our privilege to support the Imani Foundation through Face to Face. 50% of the proceeds of sales from the song "Manyeta" will be donated to the Imani Foundation which supports the acquisition of intensive care equipment and beds for the Mulago Hospital ICU babies wing in Kampala.

www.imani-foundation.org

Kampala, Uganda

Having started our musical journey close to home at Abbey Road, I thought we should be little more bold on the second. The year previous I had been scoring "The Last King of Scotland" and had visited Uganda to record music for the film with local musicians and singers. When I originally arrived in Kampala for the film I was assigned a guide who I was told was a local music star and would know everyone in Kampala. The moment I met Kawesa I knew we would be friends. When I heard his tremendous voice I knew we needed to have it on our soundtrack. (link to LKOS?)

So it seemed a natural idea for me to go back to Uganda and explore what would happen on a Face to Face session there. Just getting our recording and camera rig to Kampala turned out to be a task in itself though. Airline security mid way in Dubai was not amused (unsurprisingly) when they opened our photographer's kit bag to find a lens cleaner in the shape of a hand grenade - fins and all. (Note to self: always ask photographers if they have any equipment that looks like an offensive weapon). We were all hauled aside and given a thorough going over. In fact, in Kampala itself there had been a recent scare involving hiding weapons in a camera, so when we found ourselves invited to a function on our first night with the Ugandan president we deliberated the merits of our photographer, Rama, bringing his already unlucky kit bag having being told no cameras allowed. Wanting to make the most of the photographic opportunity, of course, he brought it only to find armed guards checking all bags. When it came to it Rama allowed himself to be frisked down by the guard while I casually passed him his camera bag around the metal detector that had been set up at the function. Perhaps not the wisest move, but it worked strangely well and we found ourselves in the function With the president and our camera (see photos below).

However, the real work of setting up the session came the next day. Kampala has no regular recording studios so we had asked Kawesa if he knew a place we could use. "Of course", he said, "leave it to me." We arrived to find he had discovered us a wonderful spot high on a green hilltop looking out over the city. If was beautiful, but very steep. We had begged the use of an old piano from the music school which was delivered to the bottom of the hill, but we hadn't counted on how to get it up to the top. After a lot of pushing and a little bribery we eventually managed to get it rolled up there, only to realise that the promise of some microphone stands that someone kind had offered was not going to materialise. Luckily, our engineer Peter came prepared with gaffer tape which which we ended up binding together large bamboo poles we found outside in the scrub which were perfect for the job! (See pics)

It took the best part of a day to create our own recording space looking down over Kampala. So we didn't get to start recording until night had fallen. That probably explains how "Manyeta" came into being. We were genuinely exhausted, all of us. But as we started rolling the sound of the crickets enveloped the open room in which we were recording and something special happened. Of the many songs we recorded, "Manyeta" had an intense raw emotion that I chose to represent that evening. It was a genuine and moving moment to have travelled that far and feel the spark of excitement as the song grew from nothing.

The next morning we were still tired, but the combination if sunshine and fresh Ugandan jack fruit for breakfast gave us the energy for "Gyangweno". On tape it sonds like we were having a party, and we were!

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Location:Turbine Gallery, Tate Modern Gallery, London

Matthew Barley

“Matthew Barley is probably the world’s most adventurous cellist!” declared the Glasgow Herald in 2008. And they are probably right! Matthew’s musical world is one of adventure, collaboration, and diversity. One of the finest cellists of his generation, Matthew has appeared as soloist, with orchestras and in recital in many of the world's greatest concert halls and is equally comfortable in making music with Indian, Sufi, African, Jazz musicians, or London’s Grime MCs.

His enduring passion for collaboration made Matthew a natural part of FACE TO FACE. He has worked with numerous artists from Martin Frost to Tan Dun on the classical stage with orchestras including the London Symphony, Royal Scottish National, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, Buenos Aires Philharmonic and many others. Outside of the classical arena, his duo with star Indian sarod player Amjad Ali Khan has led to dates at the Festival Hall London, WOMAD Australia and New Zealand, Calcutta and Mumbai, while collaboration with jazz heros Julian Joseph and Django Bates and electronica and pop artists Talvin Singh, Nitin Sawhney and Jon Lord (Deep Purple) have kept him constantly reinventing himself.

In 2010 Matthew masterminded The Peasant Girl, a major project in collaboration with his wife, renowned Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova. The project features Matthew's arrangements of gypsy influenced music and has already been performed over 40 times worldwide, while the CD and DVD recordings, produced by Matthew, have been released on Onyx Classics to great critical acclaim. His pioneering approach to education, community music and training orchestral players is now internationally renowned and led to the formation of his group Between the Notes who have appeared at the Sydney Opera House, The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi and London’s Royal Opera House (with the Royal Ballet) among other venues. Matthew's face will also be familiar to BBC viewers who watched him host and musically direct BBC 2’s widely acclaimed talent series ‘Classical Star’ in 2007.

Tate Modern Gallery, London

In recent years the Tate Modern Gallery on the Thames bank side has become an iconic part of the London skyline. The space inside the great Turbine Hall is unlike any other in London. Once a power station, it's now a power house of modern art and inspiration and it formed the backdrop to our fourth session on Face to Face.

I had been talking to cellist Matthew Barley about recording somewhere that the cello could sing - somewhere almost cathedral like. And so we asked the Tate if we could do a session there. To my surprise, once I explained the project they agreed to my plan of bringing in a concert grand piano and recording ourselves through the night in the Turbine Hall, locked in with the artworks.

As always, there were logistical issues. Firstly, it was winter and very cold in the gallery at night. I had brought heaters but they didn't seem to make much difference in the vast space. Secondly the enormous Fazioli piano we brought in could not be wheeled down the ramp of the main entrance as the gallery official feared it may go through the floor! Finally though, after the public left the building at the end of the day and we were ushered in through the underground security entrance we found a place to set up - on the balcony right in the middle of the gallery (see pic). This not only looked spectacular but turned out to benefit the most from the Tate's incredible acoustic. You could actually hear the sound of the music hitting the far back wall and flying back to you as if in a canyon.

I had been thinking about bringing in a large orchestral bass drum and some other percussion to see what it would sound like in that space. I also brought in a glass harmonica (a rack of wine glasses tuned by squirting water through a turkey basted into the glasses!). This all turned out to fit the mood of the cavernous hall and inspired us to record the track "Chant 2" on which Matthew seemed to enter another musical realm. He transforms the sound of his cello into an extraordinary voice singing into the vast space, underpinned by the eerie glass harmonica and low bass drum. It was unexpected and exhilarating to record.

Some years before this I had scored the movie "Touching the Void" in which I had used  a solo cello to score the the incredible true story of Joe Simpson's escape from death deep within a mountain crevasse. The vast dark space of the Tate at night reminded me of this and so recorded a piece which quotes the first few bars of this theme before veering off into unknown and improvised territory. This became the track "Inner Spaces".

"Shine" was the last piece we created that night which seemed to herald the rising run that we saw as we packed up our kit and headed back down the Thames early the next morning, sleepy but satisfied.

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Location: Abbey Road studio 2, Londone

Tunde Jegede

Tunde Jegede is one of the foremost exponents of his generation of the Kora (the West African Harp-Lute). A sought after composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Tunde is uniquely placed between the worlds of African, Classical and Pop music.

His extraordinary mix of talent could only be the product of the melting pot of cultures that was Britain in the 1970's. After taking his first musical steps in North London's infamous Keskidee Centre (the UK's first Black Arts Centre) Tunde's apprenticeship in African music began in 1978 when he first went to the Gambia to study the ancient Griot tradition. There he studied with Master of the Kora, Amadu Bansang Jobarteh, learning his craft through the Griot musical family dynasty which can be traced back 700 years or more.

As a child Tunde also remembers watching his grandfather play the organ in church which started his appreciation of Western Classical music. At the age of 8 he took up the cello and later became fascinated with Jazz. Years later this led to him touring with ex-members of the Jazz Warriors founded by Courtney Pine & Cleveland Watkiss. HIs restless talents have led him to him writing a concerto for Evelyn Glennie, works for The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Philharmonia, Britten Sinfonia, The Brodsky Quartet and many others as well as producing and working with artists from Opera, Pop, R'N'B, Reggae and Hip Hop. His life and work is celebrated in the BBC documentary 'Africa I Remember'.

Abbey Road Studios, London


When I embarked on Face to Face I had no idea where the project would take me - musically or geographically. I just had the spark of an idea and thought it would be an adventure to follow its light and see where it led. Being a film composer I had spent many years living and working in music studios - some small, and some grand. So it wasn't difficult to decide that London's iconic Abbey Road studios, where I had not long previous finished recording a score, should be the place to start. I had a feeling that a journey was beginning, and what more inspiring place to be the starting line.

Generations of musicians hold Abbey Road as an inspiration. It has a magical recipe of history, glamour and an incredible sound. Once an elegant private London residence you can't help but hear the echoes of the greats from Edward Elgar to The Beatles that have climbed the elegant Edwardian staircase down to the lower ground floor where studios 1 and 2 are now found. For my session with Tunde I wanted an intimate but inspiring space, somewhere with a classic sound. So, of course studio 2 (the 'Beatles room') was the obvious choice.

We had no idea what music we would play together on that cold and foggy December morning. In fact it was so cold when we arrived that we had to ask the studio to bring in a heater to warm up our fingers. They brought in an enormous bar heater the size of Marshall amp. When we turned it on I found (to my delight) that it glowed the most fantastic red colour. As we started playing someone inspired turned off the studios lights. Bathed only in the warm glow of the heater we played and played loosing all sense of time and space. After we finished a take we climbed the tall staircase that links the studio floor to the control room. When we walked in the booth was quiet, the lights still low. We had only meant to take a short track to start. They told us we had been improvising non-stop for almost a hour! We had so much material that in the end I chose the last 3 minutes of that hour to represent the amazing experience that became "Waltz Under the Stars".

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portrait imageAlex Heffes
portrait imageYasmine Levy
portrait imageRegina Spektor
portrait imageRyuichi Sakamoto
portrait imageKawesa
portrait imageMatthew Barley
portrait imageTunde Jegede
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