Dick Jewell’s World of Magic Movement
Having been an integral part of capturing on film for posterity the revolutionary beginnings of the Jazz Dance movement, as well as recording unseen footage of legendary percussionists from Brazil, South Africa, Cuba and Europe, plus his art, music and photography interests, Dick Jewell is a living, walking, untapped goldmine of knowledge and information.
Which is why UK Vibe had to prevail upon him not once but thrice to document his story – Initially at a July ‘09 screening of his twenty year old ‘Jazz Rooms’ film at Cargo, to coincide with Mark ‘Snowboy’ Cotgrove’s book release; a second time for a telephone interview, before making a privileged visit to ‘The Drying Room’, his studio archive in SW1 to view with awe, some of his works.
Part 1; Cargo: The UK Vibe team Steve ’The Editor’ Williams, Donald Palmer and Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards managed to put a few much-harboured questions to the restrained Mr Jewell – Obviously more comfortable documenting the action than being the centre of it. However, what we discovered was when talking about his passion as with most artists, Dick Jewell was more than willing to express himself and describe graphically, if briefly, what stunning images and events he’s captured over the years on film and canvas.
The Dood: So tell me about your excursions into film?
Dick Jewell: From an early age I was into photography, but when I got enough dough, I bought a cine camera. At that point, I’d realised…. I’d understood what photography was about – light and things. Film for me was about movement and that was the natural progression, to film beautiful movement or magic movement. And that was my agenda as a cameraman was to record ‘Magic Movement’.
The Dood: ‘Magic Movement’, I love that term. So you knew at an early age what you wanted to do. Did you then progress onto film school/college?
Dick Jewell: I taught myself.
The Dood: That’s what I wanted to hear. Just like the original Jazz Dancers? Were you into the music?
Dick Jewell: No, I was into the dance. It’s funny, like my involvement with Jazz… I’ve never been a big Jazz fan. Funnily enough, though, I got caught back into it with a guy called Robert Trunz. He’d done B&W speakers and he was mad on Trance and Jazz that had been locked into apartheid South Africa…That was the last of the music that they’d had from the outside world before Apartheid hit them. And it had been carried on there in the townships and everything.
And as soon as the apartheid had finished, he took me out there…He’d go on Nagra safari’s, and like he took me out there as his ‘eye’ and I got introduced to and filmed ALL South African Jazz. Plus, he’d be bringing people like Changuito over from Cuba to record with them. And like Airto Moreira – he’s originally Brazilian, but now lives in L.A.
So we did all these fusions between South African and Cuban and Brazilian Jazz and I filmed all that. I’ve got hours…maybe eight hundred hours of that. And it’s beautiful…because I’ve been able to record in the recording studios! So, it’s them actually putting down the tunes.
The Dood: So how did they let you into their inner sanctum?
Dick Jewell: Because he (Robert Trunz) was paying for the entire recording. He sold his speaker label (B&W) for a good few million and put it into recording music because his other partner (in business) could see that it would be a drain on their company unless he actually sold out.
The Dood: So what year are we talking about here?
Dick Jewell: Err! The eighties and early nineties – And I got all that down. Some wicked stuff as well.
The Dood: I don’t know how long film lasts, but do you transfer it so it doesn’t get erased?
Dick Jewell: Yeah! I did have one of the first three digital cameras in the country, the old VX1000s. Actually, there were five of them in England and I had one. Then I was straight off down to South Africa and I hadn’t taken enough stock with me. And like, I had to get it all shipped out from London while I was out there. It was a nightmare! At the time, not knowing the life of digital film, I did also put it all over the Betacam as well.
The Dood: You covered yourself?
Dick Jewell: Covered.
The Dood: Do you keep the films in safe storage? You wouldn’t want an Island Records situation, i.e. fire to destroy your footage?
Dick Jewell: I’ve been through all that already; I’ve had floods, burglaries. The lot. It’s like. I’ve gone through it…the archives are pretty sound though – ninety per cent I’d say.
The Dood: Any other hidden gems?
Dick Jewell: I’ve got a film that I’ll maybe get round to doing. I half did it maybe four or five years ago. It’s about a percussionist called Mabi Thobejane…. He used to be a percussionist/conga player with Miles Davis. He’s half ‘Pedi’, half ‘Bushman’…He plays everything, like Segwawa, he’s brilliant on Congas…Oh! I went to pick up one of these drum sets from a township in Durban. It’s awesome like they’re made out of milk churns with like Antelope skins over the top of them.
We’ve gone to pick them out of some drinking Shabeen place – it’s like hardcore – then took them into the studios. But like he’ll (Mabi) play those with like sticks or hosepipe. He’s hitting them with God knows what. Beautiful rhythms – really amazing rhythms.
The Dood: A twist on the Steel Pan?
Dick Jewell: Yeah! But I got him playing endless instruments…I’ve got hours and hours of him, and I’ve started doing an edit, which is only about rhythm. It’s like a whole film that’s only about rhythm… I wanted to have bits of him in and it’s beautiful, ‘cause I got him talking to people like Airto and Brice Wassy.
And like all three have got different languages, but they’re all talking to each other with like the Uh! Ah! Oh! Eh! Talking in those beautiful rhythms between one another. And I’ve bits like that. But then I found that Mabi had an old Hi 8 camera he used to take around the world with him. He’ll be endlessly setting it up and then walking into the shot with people…And I’ve got all that footage and I wanna just cut all that in on the rhythms you know – so it’s just about rhythm! I’ve done one edit of it, but I wanna go back and do that…do it with his stuff in it as well.
The Dood: So edit it into like a half-hour piece?
Dick Jewell: No! It’s already over an hour! I don’t go for small stuff! (He laughs in disbelief at my suggestion). He’s got enough rhythms for that I tell ya! That is a heavy edit down to an hour. No, he’s the man!
Steve Williams: So is anything going to happen with regards to this Jazz Rooms screening, because I understand some Japanese people are showing some interest?
Dick Jewell: Who knows! Who Knows! Funnily enough, I was in Brockwell Park, I’d gone to see Michael Prophet and bumped into another old friend of mine, Charles Bailey. He’s got some deal going with MGM, recording people over here for Japan. So he’s doing that over at Shepperton and I mentioned this (screening) and he said, ‘Ok, maybe we can put that through there.’ So maybe we’ll go that way.
Steve Williams: As long as it’s like elevated.
Dick Jewell: It’s difficult because you always find that with things that have got sound on, that you’ve got to go and copyright all the sound, and that costs thousands of pounds. So, with second thoughts, it might not happen that way.
Steve Williams: There aren’t many people who know those tunes, don’t worry about it.
Dick Jewell: I dunno…In my mind, it would more than likely do them more good because people might go out and buy the tune or want to hunt it down, but it doesn’t work that way does it? If they suddenly see you making money off it…I don’t want some old geezer with a walking stick clubbing me to death screaming, ‘I made that tune!’
Donald Palmer: When you made the Jazz Room film, were you aware of what you were doing, creating?
Dick Jewell: Yeah, of course!
Donald Palmer: Not so much as to what you were filming, but the idea that in X number of years time people would be thinking, wow!
Dick Jewell: I’ve always been aware that club culture is something that’s never really been taken seriously – it’s never been recorded. And I’ve come at it as an artist, so yeah, I was aware of that.
Donald Palmer: I was at the Mandela Birthday tribute at Wembley Stadium with a few of those guys showing their moves.
Dick Jewell: I shot some of that.
Donald Palmer: And I still recall the American musicians, Art Blakey, Blanchard and the others who were playing, and they were looking at these dancers (IDJ) in absolute astonishment. They couldn’t believe it!
Steve Williams: That still happens now!
Donald Palmer: But the fact is this, it’s music with its origins in America and there were these dancers telling Art to go ‘Faster! Faster! Faster!’
Dick Jewell: It’s like, ‘Who in their right mind is going to dance to Salt Peanut?’ It’s not exactly made to be danced too.
Steve Williams: Are you keeping busy at the moment. Have you got lots of work on and stuff for different projects?
Dick Jewell: Yeah, I’m always busy as an artist you know.
Steve Williams: Is it being recognised by anyone? I know we’re recognising you now.
Dick Jewell: I dunno!
Steve Williams: What are you doing now?
Dick Jewell: I’m making even less commercial films (The Jazz Room) than that at the moment, which might be recognised as art in another twenty years time. Let’s hope.
Steve Williams: Like nails through the tongue?
Dick Jewell: No worse than that. I’ve been there, done that.
Steve Williams: Yeah I know, I saw it.
Dick Jewell: That’s Peter Gabriel! They couldn’t use it; it was too heavy for his image. I did it for an album cover.
No, that was how I got started with the music business.
The Dood: So what year was this?
Dick Jewell: That was the early eighties…He’d come along and saw my degree show and took me along to his record company and said, ‘Oh, I’d like him (Dick) to do some work for my next album cover.’ They’ve gone. ‘Peter, when is your next album!’ and he’s gone, ‘It’s on the way, It’s on the way!’ And they’ve said, ‘Well, you’re under contract to Hypnosis.’ He said, ‘Ok, but any other work, I want Dick to do.’ So that’s how I started working with him. But practically everything I did was like, whoa!
Steve Williams: He wasn’t exactly normal was he?
Dick Jewell: He was weird…because the record company had said, ‘Is there anything else meanwhile that you would like to do?’ I was like, ‘I haven’t got any affinity for Genesis.’ Then they said, ‘Well go and find something you like and we’ll put you on a retainer.’ That’s another story. I started a record label with ’em. So that’s another whole thing.
Steve Williams: Did you just happen to be there, or was it set up for you?
Dick Jewell: No…It was actually around the time of that record company thing, because the artists I had signed were like, Gregory Issacs, Prince Far-i. Gregory had ended up in gun Court and Far-i had ended up with six bullets in him. And I thought, I can move on here, I haven’t got any commitment to the artists that I can fulfil right now because they’re indisposed. And like had got enough money to start making films, which is what I wanted to do.
My main reason for moving from stills to film was so I could record ‘Magic Movement.’ And I started off with dance and martial arts. And I’d been doing that for about six months when like they said to me, ‘Dick, you’ll really like this!’ And I came along and I just started filming the Jazz Dance scene. I was filming all the breaking and stuff.
Steve Williams: Is that an edited version of the Jazz Room that was shown today or is that it?
Dick Jewell: It’s edited, yeah! That was the thing when you put a film in it would only last three minutes…so it meant there was editing involved.
Steve Williams: That’s all good, thanks for the experience.
Part 2; Telephone Interview:
The Dood: What was Melt 2000?
Dick Jewell: That was the name of the record label that Robert Trunz put all the music out on.
The Dood: Expand further on the term Nagra?
Dick Jewell: It’s the old analogue type recorders’; you know the make of them.
The Dood: Robert Trunz talks of the Nagra safaris?
Dick Jewell: Nagra safari yeah. That’s what he used to call them. They’re those old reel-to-reel recorders – remember them?
The Dood: Yeah, right!
Dick Jewell: It was top end field recording equipment. The first Nagra safari was to find the original Trance music, which was played by the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert in Namibia.
The Dood: They were locked into Jazz and Trance because of Apartheid. Correct?
Dick Jewell: Jazz was the thing that was locked in, not Trance; because that was the last sort of contact they had with the western world before the Apartheid come down. Some developed it and kept it going within the townships.
The Dood: How old were you when you started making films?
Dick Jewell: I was about twenty-seven/twenty-eight when I started making films. Up until then, it had always been stills.
The Dood: What about your affinity for filming Martial Arts and Dance?
Dick Jewell: I’ve always been into Martial Arts and Dance. That’s what led me into film, wanting to record that. I was quite interested in the similarities of movements between Martial Arts and Dance as well. One of the first films I made was called ‘Revolver’, which was purely about people spinning.
The Dood: Wow! You mean like the Break-dancers?
Dick Jewell: No, from everything. From Indian Kathak dancing, Whirling Dervishes, Break dancing, whatever!
The Dood: At Cargo you briefly mentioned that you started your own record label after being put on a retainer by Peter Gabriel’s record company. What did you call the label?
Dick Jewell: PRE
The Dood: Why that name?
Dick Jewell: I think because most of my record collection had all been pre-releases.
The Dood: Okay, that makes sense.
Dick Jewell: Yeah my stuff was all on white labels. What I did with the first PRE releases, I didn’t actually put labels on them at all! I made a stamp for the presses, which literally just embossed all the information straight into the vinyl.
The Dood: Oh Wow! So it’s permanent and has the track times on there and everything?
Dick Jewell: Yeah, everything!
The Dood: Any further news re the exposure of the Jazz Rooms film showing?
Dick Jewell: Funnily enough, a couple of days after the Jazz Rooms showing at Cargo, I got a phone call from another person who said he’d like to put it forward and I’m going to be contacted by an art festival in Zurich. They’re putting on a lot of eighties films in the art context. So it would be along with Derek Jarman and people like that. It’s gonna be Super 8 artist films from the eighties. And I think that’s gonna be in October ‘09.
The Dood: Have they invited you over?
Dick Jewell: I’m waiting to hear from them…but that looks like the next outing for the Jazz Rooms. What was also interesting was James McKay said to me, ‘Dick, I’ve still got the Beta copy that you’d given me for showing.’ He had shown it at different film festivals off and on. He had got a copy when it was last shown at somewhere like Sheffield. So that would intrigue me because maybe he’s got a copy that hasn’t got blacked out time code on the reel.
The Dood: So what, you don’t even have a copy?
Dick Jewell: He might have a better copy than me…’Cause I can never remember what stages I’ve put the thing through. Obviously, like the Jazz Rooms version we saw at Cargo, to get to DVD it’s gone from Super 8 to Low Band, from Low Band to DV Cam and then into a computer and on to DVD. So it’s been through like four different processes. There was another lot that had gone from Super 8 to one inch and then maybe it had gone from one inch straight onto Beta. So yeah, there’re a lot of versions out there. I did the original on Super 8.
The Dood: Tell me more about James McKay?
Dick Jewell: He’s got his name at the end of the Jazz Rooms because he did help with some of the production early on. I think he paid for the original one-inch conversion. He was Derek Jarman’s producer.
The Dood: What future projects are you working on?
Dick Jewell: The next thing that I’m working on now, is this film I’ve been doing for like the last three to four months. It’s called Jewell, and consists of every photo image and every film with that name on the Internet.
The Dood: My Word!
Dick Jewell: Yeah! That’s nearly finished now and I think that will get its launch at Frieze.
The Dood: Frieze? And that’s when?
Dick Jewell: That’ll be October as well and that’s in London, the Freeze Arts Fair.
The Dood: What about copyright infringement?
Dick Jewell: With copyright…I’ve never really looked into it because I’ve always worked that way. One of the first books I did was ‘Found Photos’…It was the first book I published. They were just photo booth portraits that I found in the street over a period of two or three years. This is pre-digital. It’s the ones that people found unacceptable for whatever reason, because they couldn’t stand themselves or because they couldn’t stand what?
That was what intrigued me, the fact that people would pay to take their photo and then throw them away because they couldn’t stand what? How they looked? It brings all that into question but I was also intrigued by the fact that because there was no photographer involved…it’s not someone else’s eye. It’s a format that we all know. We’ve all experienced it at some stage.
So taking the photographer out of the equation, it really does start to beg the question, ‘Why have you thrown it away?’ Also, because there’s no photographer there, the faces become typical in a sense, in so far as people looking at the book will often say, ‘Oh! That reminds me of somebody else.
The Dood: So that was the first book you did. What year was this?
Dick Jewell: I think the first edition was in 1979 and the revised edition was in 1981. I found one on the Internet the other day; some bloke had put an advert out for it for something like four hundred quid…He said it was signed and in mint condition.
It was on eBay or something. I took a screenshot of it. He said there’s also a postcard with it that’s signed. It’s got a photo of me on the back with me writing to him saying, ’Dear so and so, my books are available for two-pounds fifty!’ And he’s selling it for half a grand.
The Dood: So this was before you got into film, so you must have been around twenty-five years old.
Dick Jewell: About twenty-five, yeah.
The Dood: Are things still as exciting for you today as always.
Dick Jewell: Yeah, different aspects of it, because although I’m concentrating more on the art establishment as an outlet for my work…Like I was saying, with the Mabi film, now I’ve got my foot in the door there, I’ve got options. The Mabi film is just about that rhythm and visuals…think of it as a sort of visual rhythmic collision. It doesn’t fit into the normal commercial film thing at all. I don’t see why music and visuals can’t cross over more into like a pure art form. It’s a difficult one, but we will see.
I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, a fellow artist, and he was saying how difficult it is in life to bargain as a pure artist. He said below that is the filmmaker, which is just one above the poet in the pecking order of financial re-numeration. You’re always on that sort slippery log.
The Dood: I hear ya!
Part 3; Dick Jewell’s Studio (The Drying Room), where many hours of film was waiting to be plucked from the shelves on demand. UK Vibe ready to be impressed sat back, beer in hand and a few packets of biscuits on standby (should the need arise), poised at the prospect of watching Airto footage, a little jazz dance maybe and even a few Capoeira moves thrown in along the way. We braced ourselves pondering on the thought ‘should we have brought sleeping bags?’
Steve Williams: How did Cargo and you come about?
Dick Jewell: I think Snowboy. He found me a few years ago when he was doing that book. Maybe through Jerry (IDJ dancers) or someone. Jerry might have had my number…
Anyway, onto the tapes, we’ve got about two hundred hours worth to get through!
[Dick randomly grabs a cassette without any prompting]
Let me give you the brief on this first video before we start, it’s quite funny. What had happened was, we had gone down to Jo’burg and we were going to do a lot of recording with the people there. One of the artists was Sipho Gumede. He died a few years ago, a bass player. Really good! I’ve got some great stuff of him with the Jazz Warriors and things at the Africa Centre because Robert brought him over here.
He did this album but Robert (Trunz) hated it. So he said we’re gonna redo everything except for your bass. So they got Winnie Mandela’s choir into the studio for the backing vocals. They got Busi Mhlongo, they got Mabi Thobejane for percussion, and they had Pops Muhammed playing thumb piano on it.
Anyway, they got all these musicians and that in and I knew I weren’t gonna be able to film Sipho, because he’d already done his. So I said, ‘what’s this song all about Sipho? And he said, ‘Oh it’s about a drought.’ I said. Ok. Do they have any sort of rain-making ceremonies down here or anything?’ And Robert’s said, ‘No, but the Sangoma (Healers) do all those things for rain.’ I said, ‘Ok maybe we can film some of them?’
So in me filming them, they’ve gone and put that onto the track as the intro, so we’ve got the Sangomas from my filming going into the music. And because it was about a drought, I said ok then Sipho, let’s go and find a desert or something to film you playing the bass. We found a place near Jo’burg, which looked arid. So that’s the brief.
[Steve and The Dood were then treated to unseen footage of a sublimely haunting recital of ‘Drought’. Dick then segued into more classic footage of pianist Moses Taiwa Molelekwa who we were familiar with]
Steve Williams: Great musician, I love Genes and Spirits.
Dick Jewell: Oh man, Moses! He was the next Abdullah Ibrahim, no doubt about it, he’s better, and he’s gone!
The Dood: He’s gone as well. What happened to him?
Dick Jewell: He hung himself.
The Dood: What!
Dick Jewell: He was an absolute fucking genius! He played with the Jazz Warriors over here – he could funk it too. Moses was like, oh man! I could sit down with him all day.
The Dood: What was his personality like?
Dick Jewell: Lovely!
[As we watched footage of Moses Taiwa Molelekwa in session, Dick commented further about the filming and recording technique used]
Dick Jewell: This is all done like analogue style. It was done like pre-computer. We did one in Beta and then linear editing.
The Dood: This is great, very enlightening and educational.
Steve Williams: I’m still curious though, is this stuff that you’re just keeping forevermore, or is there anything you can do with it?
Dick Jewell: You tell me because I ain’t a businessman. I’m a Film-Maker/Artist and I do my best. I put my heart and soul into my work and that’s it. If it sounds good, fine.
The Dood: We wouldn’t want to find you in a Moses situation.
Dick Jewell: Doubt it. I’ve got a family, a boy and a girl.
The Dood: Any of them following you into the film or art industry?
Dick Jewell: My daughter might, she’s an artist. But she’s only six.
Steve Williams: I think the problem is that people don’t know you’ve got stuff?
Dick Jewell: What people! (Laughs)
Steve Williams: Explain further about the Jazz Rooms you mentioned earlier. What’s happening with that?
Dick Jewell: There’s a Japanese guy that Snowboy put me in touch with who wanted to put it out on a Jazz Dance compilation at the beginning of September 2009…. He said he’ll give me a five hundred quid advance. That’s a bit ridiculous because it doesn’t even cover the process of converting it from Super 8 to one-inch tape, then from one inch to DVD. Even for expenses, you’re looking at a couple of grand!
So I wrote back to him and suggested we put it out at a later date in its own right. But he can’t understand my angle…. I wanna do it right! I can’t put it out in Japan for five hundred quid. It doesn’t make any sense.
Steve Williams: So how would something go from you to the public? You can’t spend hours upon hours doing something just to put it on the shelf?
Dick Jewell: I’ve already done that! It’s easy enough to transfer it to DVD.
Steve Williams: So it’s just a matter of marketing and promotion?
Dick Jewell: As long as I get a decent percentage or royalty of whatever’s put out, I’m fine.
Steve Williams: Because I know what I like, and I know what I love, and I just find it frustrating when there’s stuff that could be viewed by people that is just hidden away.
Dick Jewell: It needs some sort of Jazz head from channel 5 or whatever to pick up on it you know what I mean.
Steve Williams: The thing that immediately springs to mind is Arts Council funding.
Dick Jewell: We’ll see.
Steve Williams: What about African artists like Papa Wembe or Salif Keita. Did they cross your path?
Dick Jewell: No, but back in the day I did meet up with Yousser N’dour through all those early Womad festivals because I was hanging with Peter Gabriel. They were my heroes at that time so I was well up for that.
[The Dood looks around the studio like a man with a blindfold and a dart]
The Dood: Which of these different sized cassettes can you still get and what’s the difference?
Dick Jewell: This is DV Cam…One day this will become the established master rather than Beta. It’s very stable DV Cam. It’s the same process as this (Beta) digitally encoded onto tape, but this tape is running at a slower speed than that, so it’s taking more information onto the tape. This (DV Cam) is the boom man. And like these little mothers, (points to small recording device) it’s about two and a half grand for that.
The Dood: For Real!
Dick Jewell: Yeah. These are a lot more, (points to a larger tape machine) something like ten to twenty grand apiece. And that was years ago… I’ve always re-invested.
The Dood: Careful, you might knock your drink onto that expensive machinery!
Dick Jewell: Don’t worry. In saying that though, I did spill a bloody Nigerian Guinness into a Low Band player once, with a master tape in it that I’ve never replaced. It was the only finished version of Horace Andy with Massive Attack.
[At this point Dick selected another unique recording of the Amampondo musicians entitled ‘Amampondo – A Musical Excursion ‘the name refers to them coming from Pondoland]
Dick Jewell: I went to a village there, Hlangani near Tsolo (South Africa) and I got some amazing footage there…. I filmed for a whole week. The first day we filmed all the men’s music. The second day we filmed the women’s music and at night we just filmed them in their houses…Then on the third day we filmed the children and then the whole village singing together on a hill.
[Whilst taking in the film, The Dood observes some artwork in a large drawer and salivates]
Dick Jewell: That’s my plan chest with all my work in, I’m an artist as well…what you’re looking at is part of my Black Queens of England series.
Steve Williams: Wicked!
The Dood: That’s beautiful. I could do with a print of that in my living room.
[The gentle hint goes unnoticed]
Steve Williams: Do you sell limited prints?
Dick Jewell: I just sold three at the Royal Academy Summer Show. Thank God!
The Dood: Keep you ticking over right. What about the ‘Jewell’ film you’re working on?
Dick Jewell: I’ve just finished that and I’ve just got the dual-layer burner today (Saturday) – finally! I had to wait in all day yesterday for it and they never delivered it. So I’ve got a dual-layer DVD burner now. I can get up to eight gigabytes on it.
[At this juncture the legendary Airto Moreira appears on the monitor]
Dick Jewell: AIRTO! With this concert, it ends up Amampondo, Airto, Brice Wassy and Mabi and Changuito all playing together! It’s all on this tape. It’s a fucking mental gig!
Steve Williams: It says on the tape cover it was recorded in 2000.
[Scanning his studio, The Dood and Steve notice a framed photo of Reggae superstar Gregory Issacs]
Steve Williams: Is that one of yours?
Dick Jewell: Yeah of course. I put that on his ‘Lonely Lover’ album cover. I put that out, it’s my record label.
The Dood: I thought that was PRE?
Dick Jewell: Yeah! That’s my first album on PRE, ‘Lonely Lover.’
[The beer was now working and on glancing some rather risqué images in the studio Steve throws a random question that perhaps only he would ever find assimilation with – turns out the obscure became a memory]
Steve Williams: Have you seen a film called Salo?
Dick Jewell: Yeah that does ring a bell.
Steve Williams: They’ve just brought it out – been banned for many years…
Dick Jewell: I’ve seen that, but get this. I went to see it in Soho, took a 35mm camera with me, took stills of it and sold them to the BFI (British Film Institute). No word of a lie, I gave them the stills for the book. And this is what, twenty years ago!
Steve Williams: Because the DVD has got a book in it and it’s got the stills in the book.
Dick Jewell: The Police raided the cinema a couple of days later and took that copy, they (the cinema) showed it again and they (the Police) raided it and took the second copy. And I had stills of it and I sold them to the BFI because the BFI had no copies and no stills. It was Pasolini (director) I think.
The Dood: So where was it filmed?
Dick Jewell: Italy
[We leave the abstract and return to the music]
The Dood: So what’s this guy’s name?
Dick Jewell: Madala Kunene…This guy man. I was with him once, I had gone to see him in a hotel and Robert (Trunz) bought him a new guitar…He was really grateful you know. It was an acoustic guitar. Five minutes later he’s totally taken all the strings off and then he re-strung it the other way around. That is part of that whole maskanda thing…I watched him doing it and it was like, oh man! That was horrific to me, you buy someone a brand new guitar and they take it apart!
[Dick goes on to play forty minutes worth of Madala’s captivating music; some shot outdoors, some in the studio and some in a hotel room. Busi Mlhongo and Mabi Gabriel Thobejane join him in some fabulously inspired and intuitive collaborations. Following on from this, Dick then produces a slick, vibrant video he filmed with Flora Purim, called ‘Light As My Flow’]
Dick Jewell: For Flora, I did this for Flora. It’s Easter in Seville. Flora wanted to go there, so we went and did the video there.
Steve Williams: It’s a great video.
[Directly after Dick segues into concert footage of Flora’s husband and legendary percussionist Airto Moreira and friends in the Azores]
The Dood: So did you travel with him?
Dick Jewell: Yeah, I’ve got him everywhere. I’ve travelled with him in Brazil. I’ve travelled with him loads of places. We’ve been all over the place. I was with him down in South Africa. I travelled all through Pernambuco.
The Dood: On the Reggae tip, do you have any Gregory Issacs footage?
Steve Williams: That was a bit of a sideways step wasn’t it. Don’t start me on Reggae I’ll never go home.
Dick Jewell: You should see the amount of vinyl in my flat. That’s all I’ve collected. I buy Jamaican stuff man.
The Dood: You mean the white labels?
Dick Jewell: Yeah, that’s what I started with.
Steve Williams: Did you just collect or did you DJ at any time?
[We have now within seconds shifted from Airto to Reggae music. We need to get back to Airto before the biscuits are opened]
Dick Jewell: I used to DJ but when I started collecting, I was fourteen and this guy in…there was like two Reggae clubs, ‘The Four Aces’ and ‘The Georgian Club’ in East Croydon. And this Trinidadian called Mel ran ‘The Georgian Club’. It had a wicked sound system, twin decks. I think they were called Cobra. They had two heads on the deck, two arms on the same deck.
I used to go in there at lunchtimes. I was like fourteen and they just took me on. I was like part of the wallpaper. So it ended up on Saturdays, we used to go up Brixton…to buy the white labels and also we used to buy the hash up there. Literally, there was a geezer sitting on the wall, he’ll cut a lump off about the size of a Swan Vesta packet, give it to you, you give him a fiver…. Those were the days. And you could smoke it in the Wimpy Bar and people never knew what you were doing. They never understood the smell of it, and that was it. And that’s how I started, what kicked me off into Reggae. I was into Reggae and Stax and Atlantic Soul. That was all I listened too at the time.
Steve Williams: Footage of Reggae is so rare though. It’s like those old Blues dances. You’ve got the odd photo but nothing’s captured.
Dick Jewell: Yeah that’s because it’s before video. And Blues dances had very little light, so you couldn’t film fuck all. I started filming stuff at Brixton Town Hall on Super 8.
Steve Williams: Was the Electric Ballroom (Camden Town) something you frequented or did you just turn up to film?
Dick Jewell: I was filming a lot of Reggae at the time. But at the same time, I was filming martial arts and dance. Then this girl …a friend of mine Emma came up to me and said, ‘Dick, you’ve got to check the Jazz Dancing at the Electric Ballroom.’ And that’s what started it. I went up, filmed it and thought yeah!
So the next time I took what I filmed and projected it above the dance floor. Put a sheet up and projected onto it, so people knew what I was doing. Then we chucked the light on, because I needed lighting and filmed whatever they wanted me to film. So I filmed for like fifteen to twenty minutes, shut the lights off and they continued on.
Steve Williams: So you went there more than once?
Dick Jewell: Yeah, you can see the dates on the film. Each time I went I put the date up and we’ll carry on. Also, each time I went I showed what I’d filmed so far because I’d edited it with splices and things, chuck it on the projector and project over the dance floor and we’d carry on filming. And that was the pattern.
Steve Williams: Not too dissimilar to Cargo. Was there any banter with Gilles at the time or Paul Murphy?
Dick Jewell: I didn’t bother filming it. There was that clip, I put a little bit of Gilles in the film (The Jazz Rooms). I thought yeah, I better put him in, like respect to the music, but really I was into the dance you know.
Steve Williams: So when you saw him at Cargo, it wasn’t like ‘Hi Dick!’, ‘Hi Gilles!’
Dick Jewell: We’ll I went round his house a few times…. Gilles, ‘What the fuck was that tune you were playing?’ Then we’ll go down the pub or whatever.
Steve Williams: So there was a bit of respect?
Dick Jewell: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Totally! He had respect for what I was doing. I hadn’t seen him for years until I saw him at Cargo, and he was pleased to see me. Then he went on to bigger things, didn’t he. I used to hang around his flat before he was famous.
Steve Williams: And Jerry (IDJ Dancers)?
Dick Jewell: Yeah Jerry, sweet ain’t he. He’s a sweet man. He’s a lovely man.
Steve Williams: I’ve known about him for a long time but it’s only recently that we’ve been talking. He comes across as such a humble Character.
Dick Jewell: He is. He was the lynchpin IDJ, he really was. He had the right personality, the right mindset. Everyone respected him, because he’s a nice bloke. He’s level headed. I love Jerry; he’s a lovely bloke.
Steve Williams: Everybody under our umbrella, they all strive for information, they want to know about stuff, they want to know about music, they just absorb it. So for stuff just to be archived, it doesn’t help anybody.
The Dood: It’s about educating the masses.
Dick Jewell: Well think about what you’ve seen and think about how it can be put out and we’ll do it.
Steve Williams: What provides your regular income, is it photography, is it film?
Dick Jewell: No, there’s never been anything regular. But I’m trying now to cut it as an artist in the last four to five years, doing prints and montages and things. The gallery clings on to it all, they keep all the work. They don’t reach a massive amount of people, the gallery I’m with, but this year they’ve got into Frieze Art Fair in London. I know my ‘Jewell’ film, the one I’m doing now is gonna be in that. It’s got a chance of a few thousand people seeing it.
Steve Williams: But how do they find out about you, how does it go the next step? Other than them knowing your name.
Dick Jewell: They know the institutions, so I can maybe get some into the Tate Gallery or somewhere like that. But then again, I’ve had the Tate saying they were gonna buy a film of mine for like four or five years now. And they still ain’t moved on it, blaming the recession. Which is bollocks, bullshit, it’s bullshit…but I keep going.
[Dick then reveals some prints of his classic ‘Church & State’ artwork, a few of which he had recently sold]
Dick Jewell: My work is always conceptually based, there’s always a thought in there you know. I’ve sold three of these at the Royal Academy. I did six of them and I sold three, one to a bloke in America, one to a company lawyer and one to a collector in Notting Hill.
I did five prints and two artist proofs. I put six layers of varnish on that…I make a mask of it and then silkscreen varnish onto it to get that patina, to get that vibe you know. So yeah, I got that into the R.A Summer Show and I sold three of these.
The Dood: Do you sell them unframed or framed?
Dick Jewell: The first one I framed in a big gold leaf frame with like those beautiful black sides. That one sold framed and the other two sold unframed.
Steve Williams: So your problem is with consistent selling? Isn’t that the case with every artist though?
Dick Jewell: No! Not if you’re Damian Hurst or someone – everything’s sold before you’ve fucking done it! That may be the case with about half a dozen artists, but then there’s like another God knows how many thousands of us out there still doing it.
When I first left Art College I was quite successful, but I disregarded it. I was shown in the Hayward Gallery. I was shown in the Serpentine Gallery. But I got interested in music, so I just threw all that away. I could have really been established and that then and been making thousands.
But now I’ve decided to come back to that because I made it once, I’ll do it again…but it’s harder as an older person because they’re always looking for that young cutting edge. But my brain is still on what’s happening and going down now. And the film that I’ve just done (Jewell), that isn’t like any film that anyone’s ever seen! Plus it’s saying a lot about how people are taking photos of themselves and putting it up on the Internet or whatever and what photography is doing now.
That’s what it’s about, it’s about looking, having a look at the state of the art now – the state of photography now. And my film really digs that. It’s a simple idea but really there’s a lot in there, it’s loaded! It’s very loaded. There’s everything in there…It’s real you know.
Steve Williams: Fantastic!
The Dood: You da man!
Dick Jewell: I just keep going, but I know damn well it’s a very hard thing to sell – a fucking two-hour film called ‘Jewell’. But that’s not why I do it is it.
Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards
Where to view Dick Jewell’s Art and Film in 2009:
Frieze Art Fair (Regent’s Park, London)
October 15th – 18th: showing film ‘Jewell’
November 26th: showing film ‘Strip Motion’
Victoria & Albert Museum (the Sackler Centre) 6.30-10.00pm
November 27th: A showing of film ‘Kinky Gerlinky’
(Part of their Friday evening programmes)
(The film directed by Dick Jewell)
showing continually in the Sackler building of The Victoria and Albert Museum (where the bar is) as part of:
MAKING A SCENE: SEXUALITY, PERFORMANCE AND THE PUBLIC SPACE
Where to view Dick Jewell’s Art and Film in 2010:
The history of Jazz, from Funk to Fusion to Acid, will be brought firmly into the fore during this year’s BASS Festival (British Arts and Street Sounds). The figurehead of the UK Acid Jazz scene, Snowboy will be master of ceremonies on Sunday 13th June at the new MAC.
‘Beyond the Ballroom’ will look at the rise of Jazz Funk and the development of Acid Jazz whilst revealing a remarkable piece of dance history. A free jazz dance workshop will kick off the proceedings in the afternoon and participants will be able to learn some extra special moves ready for the evening when Mark ‘Snowboy’ Cotgrove will open his record collection and takes to the turntables. Dick Jewell’s film ‘The Jazz Room’ will also be screened and audience members will be able to put their questions to Snowboy as he takes part in a Q&A about the scene and signs copies of his acclaimed new book ‘From Jazz Funk & Fusion to Acid jazz: The History Of The UK Jazz Dance Scene’.
Taking place for the fifth consecutive year, BASS Festival is Punch Records’ flagship event and the UK’s only month-long celebration of Black music and art. This year’s programme will see a range of music and arts events in venues across Birmingham. The 2010 theme is DNA, looking at both personal DNA and the heritage of music. Jazz is one of many genres being explored in the festival.
‘Beyond the Ballroom’ starts at 4pm on Sunday 13th June 2010 at the MAC. Tickets cost £6. To book visit http://www.macarts.co.uk. ‘Beyond the Ballroom’ Jazz Dance Workshop is on Sunday 13th June 2010 from 1 – 3pm also at the MAC. Participation is free.
2 of my Queens are hanging in the Royal Academy Summer Show No 132 in Large Weston Room and 813 in room VIII – 14 June – 22 August 2010
Museu da Cidade June 23rd to 5th September 2010
Pavilhão Preto and gardens
Campo Grande nº 245, 1700-091 Lisbon
T +351 217 513 200
Tuesday to Sunday: 10am – 1pm / 2pm – 6 pm
Exhibition Opening: June 22 at 10 pm
DJ set by Filho Único + open bar sponsored by Prime Drinks, Vinha da Defesa
Found Photos – Dick Jewell
Hysteric Glamour – Dick Jewell
The 123 Anniversary of Hysteria (1878 – 2001)