It was a strange kind irony that found me living in a place called KingsPlace on Buckingham Avenue - it was indeed my palace at a time when I was spending weekends in Pietermaritzburg, whilst living in Morningside and working in Sandton, Johannesburg during the week. Friday afternoons saw me high-tailing it towards Johannesburg International to catch the 75 minute flight direct to Pietermaritzburg where I would take refuge in my music, alone at the Steinway, catching my breath after the distractions of the preceding twelve years. It's always been that I only get close to my inner musical consciousness when I'm alone, in a place where there can be stillness and a total escape from all the stimuli of day-to-day existence, and in this respect, KingsPlace really worked for me.
Although I had "squeezed out" a few decent compositions during the previous period, I was now ready to get back onto the road that I had temporarily bypassed. And I was most excited when for the first time ever, I finally discovered what may be my own unique process of musical composition; I was absolutely elated to be able to do what I had frantically searched for during my twenties and thirties when it comes to writing music, and it is now so easy!
The new compositions began to appear, starting with Inspiration, which symbolizes a turning point in my creative life. Thereafter, whenever I made a commitment to produce a new composition, it was simply a matter of visualizing the conceptual "parent" of the piece, and then starting the process of discovery leading to a new piece. Perhaps there is only one solution to the "problem" which is to translate my abstract conceptualization of some or other entity/feeling/experience into a specific piece of music - I have yet to find out.
Two years of airline commuting finally ended with my relocating to Cape Town in 2001. Now for the next surprise: a thirty-year-old vision (preceding the one which manifested itself in London with George Lee) now quietly came to fruition: alone, composing music on a fine piano (OK - it's only a 1928 Steinway Model K upright), with the ocean within earshot, and revealed to me in all its splendor whenever I choose to glance out of my living room window. There has to be some meaning in this!
So I carried on, and out came the majority of the tracks on the Portaits album. During this time I was approached by Marc Duby to arrange some of my compositions, and to appear with him and others at the Pretoria Technikon's SAMRO Endowment for the Arts sponsored concert at one of the Pretoria State Theatre's auditoria in late 2002. I was delighted to be able to put my new ideas to work and wrote arrangements for Bordeaux and Someone I Knew featuring four horns plus rhythm section, reserving the opening section of Bordeaux for a guitar solo honoring Johnny Fourie (who was part of the band). In the end we ditched Someone I Knew in favour of Romance featuring Kevin Davidson's fine flute playing (we did it as a quartet).
The next step was to get the music recorded, and this ended up talking another three years to achieve thanks to the distractions of this fine city (including the day job, sailing in the bay on weekends etc....), apart from my finally deciding to go it alone and not follow the traditional route of rounding up a crowd of session musicians and spending a fortune on studio time charged at exorbitant hourly rates. Instead, I invested in my own studio equipment, and now that I have learned how to use the software things are already progressing in a much more focused way, and rapid pace than ever before.