Soon after arriving in London I was able to get a rehearsal band together in the hope of getting my repertoire exposed to the local jazz community. I had a number of charts written for three horns plus rhythm section including guitar and was lucky enough to meet some of the up and coming session players who were able to read the charts without difficulty. We never got as far as getting any gigs together because they were always getting called away to play on various well-paid concerts, sessions and tours and my initiative soon fizzled out.
Two of the members of the band were also gigging with jazz singer Salena Jones and when an opportunity arose for a new musical director / keyboard player I got the call. Salena and I immediately formed a good rapport and I started doing gigs with here and her quartet. We also got on well socially and it was a real relief to be able to get out of London and visit them in their home on the outskirts of Southampton.
I had never heard of her before and was impressed when I discovered that Salena had gone gold in Japan and had recorded with many American players who were my heroes - Steve Gadd, Richard Tee, Eric Gale and so on. Then, when Salena suggested that I accompany her on her forthcoming tour to Indonesia, Australia and then Japan (where she was to record her new album with Richie Cole) I could not believe my luck - this had to be a really good break.
But we had to do the demos to begin with, and Salena bought a Roland TR808 drum machine, and with my Rhodes piano and ARP Odyssey (to play the bass lines) I started preparing the backing tracks for her. I was using a Fostex 250 four-track cassette mixer/recorder and these were the beginnings of my home studio activities.
Then the problems started: we were advised by the Indonesian authorities that despite the fact that I was resident in the UK (and legally entitled to work there), since I was born in South Africa I would not be issued with a visa to travel to their country. No matter how hard we tried to get around the bureaucracy we got nowhere. So, in desperation I approached my local member of parliament and put my case to him, requesting that I be granted some sort of British travel document, only to once again be disappointed; the British government was unable to "dilute" the value of a British passport by acceding to such a request.
This all meant that I would not be going on tour, nor doing the recording sessions in Tokyo along with the best of the American West Coast session players, and inevitably, my position with Salena came to an end as well.
It was not only the sportsmen and women whose careers were suffering because of the political situation on our country.