L. Van Cleef poetic take on discovering Django Novo:


THIS NEW DJANGO sings a song light as a feather that floats on a breeze as cool as death…

Gypsy Soul, Alive and Well…


YEARS AGO, I REMEMBER seeing Yul Brynner on the TV talking about the philosophy of the Gypsies. Brynner claimed to have been a quarter Romany and was elected to the position of President of the Roma, and he loved to speak from the high place of this authority. “The Roma have a saying,” he said. “Everybody else builds big boxes to live in, with walls of bricks and mortar, and they leave a tiny little keyhole through which to see the rest of the world…”


One of Brynner’s avocations was playing Gypsy songs on the guitar and singing the night away. In this he was no doubt emulating that most famous of Gypsy musicians to reach fame in modern times, Django Reinhardt (1910-1953) who practically invented the jazz guitar and yet never left behind his penchant for Gypsy music and unconventional behavior.


With all their wandering ways and Dionysian fiddle-frenzies, the Roma have left some deep ruts scratched across the surface of the spirit world. Now, following one of these trails carved into the ethereal sod, we see another wagon approaching, bells a-tinkle, amply-cleavaged women smiling and waving and bending and flashing come-hither looks. The brightly painted contraption stops, and down steps an energetic young swain, with a guitar, a voice, a complicated rhythm. He is the reincarnation of reincarnations, Django Novo, pausing to rest on his way from, Oslo? to, to, to RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE.


I FIRST FOUND DJANGO on Garageband.com. On Garageband, if you want to get your music reviewed, you have to review other people’s music. You never know beforehand what is coming at you. One night I got a tune from Django Novo, called Coco, or, as it has since then been rechristened, Coucou. I couldn’t believe how great this song was, as I wrote a review for it that didn’t come close to capturing the roiling maelstrom of delights and associative imagery that floated around my mind as a result of a mere four minute experience, for days thereafter:


“What a great song! This tune, and the supremely confident, breathy delivery of it, takes me back to the 1920's faded grandeur of Stresa on Lago Maggiore; the swank hotels, palm trees, priests in black hats, and hustlin' aristocrats on the make in the park across the street. I hear overtones of Marlene Dietrich in the melody, the voices of talented but endearing people who have become expatriates from life, all those men and women without a country who will somehow contrive to wangle their way onto the planes out of Casablanca, or wherever they are...”



Back in my salad days, at the University, I went to see a performance of the Living Theater. All the thirty-something longhairs re-enacting sun worship rituals on a huge stage in a concert hall, and then they tore of all their clothing and migrated out into the crowd and physically allured and grabbed and sweet-talked and god-knows-what-all beleaguered the audience members to stand, walk, zombify themselves, just get their asses up and move onto the stage where slowly several hundred people coalesced and stripped themselves barenaked and milled about in a crowd both hot from embarrassment and cold from lack of clothing for a half an hour of NO RULES, and that was that, and now I find out that this Djangoman’s dad was there, HE WAS ONE OF THEM, that weird international corrupting influence that actually played jazz piano and brought something really new into the world (and probably every day, will again).

Oh God, let me CLIMB ON THAT ROLLERCOASTER!!!



L. Van Cleef is a writer and musician who lives in Madison, NJ, USA.


REGGAE & DUB REVISITED:


Slowly, slowly we turn our heads to the peeling tarnished mirror of where we live, and see, what, stranger man…  is there a stranger man?  Can there possibly be a stranger man, or are we condemned to kill them all, one by one, until there are no more mouths to feed than bites of bread to feed them… 

 

and high over the avenues, the privy-ledged ones order up their Chinese, order up their grocery delivery boys, ride their mobile fortress limo jeep hummer combat vehicles to the local entertainment emporia searching for cheap gas, metaphorical nipples to suck on, and intravenous doses of that post apocalyptico reggae beat, stranger than strange…  

 

Ziggy says, When the lights gone out and the food run out, all we have is just the music…

 

Every winter when it gets cold, I hide down in the basement of my suburbia, with a little loom in front of me, weaving woolen shawls.  Slowly the before-ancient rhythm of a spell descends on me in the dimness, click-clack with the rhythm of the reed beating the thread of the weft into place, the color spelling itself out along the alternating threads, the needle waiting to finish off the hem… 

 

I am suspended by my fingers over twenty-five thousand years of instinct, trying to keep myself warm in the damp cellar of life, while the ticking, clicking waves of hot, tropical revolution pump into my mind like a hot stew of chicken, onions, peppers, and sweat…

 

And Ziggy says, We got to do what Jah Jah will, or get burned within the fire…

 

And when Django felt that reggae snake wound round his throat, his voice went all flamenco, like the men sitting off to the side there, wringing their sinewy hands, clapping low, clapping high, wavering into scattered melismas like the muezzin on the mosque…

 

You can hear the anxiety trying to creep out through the crack under the wall of the door of old Django’s voice, the plea to share, the weariness, the zero holding the space where something called love used to linger…

 

And Ziggy hears him, and says, Love is the only law to obey…

 

(Notes by Jabez L. Van Cleef.  Lyrics by Ziggy Marley, copyright 1989, Ziggy Music, Inc.



Love and thanks to J.L.Van Cleef for this poetic and wonderful approach.




"I want to get back to the magic of albums.

An album should feel like a journey and made as a concept.

One trip. This I'm aiming to create."  





DN 2019.



Django Novo currently lives and works in Oslo, Norway. 



UMAinfo, Mars 2019