Jim Ghedi Interview / Satori Review
I greet Jim Ghedi in the heavily lit Blue Moon Café beside the Sheffield Cathedral. He’s just clocked off a shift at The Rude Shipyard and makes apologies for the tiredness that can be read in his eyes. He is quick to make a charitable offer to get me something to drink, a gesture which ends with us both testing our teas for temperature, glad to be rid of the chill we’ve carried inside. We take a few moments more to find some comfort on the Spartan hard-backed chairs of the Café, also seeking in the interval some form of approach, a way, into the subject of Jim’s music.
Over the course of the last year, alongside a compelling roster of local musicians, Jim has been hard at work on ‘Sartori’, what he can only describe as a ‘passion project’. Clocking in at over ninety minutes, the scope and depth in the instrumentation, song structure and lyric content of the album are a testament to the devotion and sheer resolve that an effort like this demands. His fond recollection of the repeated journeys to the rehearsal spaces of some of the names who feature on this album—Neal Heppleston, members of Bloodsport, Screaming Maldini, Oxo Foxo, The Purgatory Players—explains a little more of the fatigue heavy in his eyes.
“I was only able to conceive the idea and make Sartori because I finally had time”, Jim reflects, “time to think deeply, to meditate and to find a way to express these thoughts through the music”. “I was trying to bring together the passion and love for playing and creating music with the things that really matter to me”. What’s more, listening to the free jazz stylings of Matana Roberts, unlocked the possibility of “fearless creativity and self-expression”. Jim certainly achieves this in Sartori. The last track on the first side [Lykos] brings together the glorious harp of [Alley York] and Ghedi, pushing the limits of what both individuals are capable of with textures of language and tonality.
The time spent thinking and finding a way have led Jim to the influences of free jazz and experimental folk. The dynamics of these genres have given helpful sign points to the large and ambitious album Jim sought to achieve; after all, we too need a way into unified whole that is Sartori. Take the first track on Side B [Child of the ghetto, son of god & the gift of ankh], a rhythm heavy jazz groove with sax and the vocal improvisation of Devon Francis layered over the top.
The breadth of this album, Jim explains, offers a way to really capture the “dynamics of expression. He’s talked before about Sartori as the exploration of the “mystical roots and spiritual traditions of free creative expression”. When I press him on this, he is quick to withdraw some of the grandeur and abstractness of this statement. His true concern is with the ‘everyman’ out on the street and the desire to know his experience and the infinite ways he can express himself1. “I went round Sheffield with a microphone, just collecting the thoughts of people I met”, he replies after I ask about the speech track which introduces the album.
Speech and the word are intimately woven into the fabric of this album. At certain points they provide a counterpoint through which the individual can be defined, a mooring point on which to anchor the message being conveyed. What Jim and the cast of characters making clear though is that, the word and the sound are one and the same thing. Moving fluidly from the speech track, Satyagraha, a sultry guitar-led composition lilts between strummed rhythm patterns and finger-picked notes, and slows between quiet harmonic interludes and driving riffs. As on this track, Sartori charts the spectrum of dynamic and expressive potential in both the forms of language and instrumentation.
Jim’s introduction to music found its origin in influences vastly different from where they’ve led him. He reflects fondly, “I used to stay in my room listening to J Dilla, Gang Starr, Nas, rapping and making beats. It wasn’t something I could really share with my friends so it became something more for me.” Nonetheless, remnants of the electronic elements in his composition still survive in his live performances. At the Sensoria Festival at Bank Street Arts, Jim performed as part of a mixed media happening. While he provided vocals and guitar backed by ambient sounds and speech loops playing from his laptop, his close friend Keith How painted live responses to sounds.
Seeking out new ways to communicate is the only to properly convey the concept of this album. Jim intends to pursue the mixed-media approach and is currently geared to the April 5th Launch of Sartori. Whatever way Sartori is received and taken in, it really is a sublime effort of the imagination.
Sartori is out on [24th of February from website JimGhedi.com]
Album launch night will be held at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield on the 5th of April, it will be a live arts & digital installation