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Pianist, multi-instrumentalist & composer Bheki Mseleku

One gets a glimpse into his life through the Joe Henderson documentary on youtube which puts the man in front of the camera. Straight forward he speaks out two interviews and says, “There are different ways of looking at it. There are people who are touched by the spiritual side of music which has nothing to do much with technique all though technique can help. I have a limitations as a musician technically, but this has nothing to do with the spiritual feeling I generate through music because there are many other musicians who are good technically but they are very blocked. Also from a spiritual point of view I still need to let go more and open myself to find more space for the whole spirit to come through and work through me and as a musician, definitely there is a lot. I mean I just bought my piano two days ago. (Interview from 1994) I have never owned one before, so from a musical point of view, I have limitations so I don't take it that serious what people say. If I am honest enough I know my limitations. But there is something else which is the spirit of music. That is something else. There are people who are touched.”

Joe Henderson then said talking of Bheki, “I don't hear this kind of talent. He should have been part of the 60's in America. Bheki's writing reminds him of the compositions going on between 1960 and 1967 in New York City. All those wonderfully talented players they had there. So I feel a very strong kinship to him.”

 

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Bheki Mseleku is not finished speaking on the second interview, they ask how he overcomes having a short baby finger. He says, “I don't overcome it. I just play with limitations. For instance I can only go up an octave. If I want to go up to the tenth or even the sharp eleventh, if I was able to do that, my sound would completely change in the way that I play things, so I am really limited in that way. Because I love music and I love expressing myself through music I don't mind to try and play. I am also one of those musicians who has short fingers so someone like Abdullah Ibrahim, or Duke or Monk or even McCoy who can stretch and even Rodney Kendricks who is big and what about Randy Winston, yah. So they can play all these big chords. I am attracted to that sound. I wish I could play like that. There are a lot of other people with short fingers. They compensate, but I think they are moved by something deeper within themselves. They won't stop just because of this limitation to play. Django Reinhard had two fingers he continued to play. I have something to offer but I don't know if it is in terms of music as such. My five physical senses sometimes play games with me. Maybe that is why there are problems on earth because we believe what we see. We think in terms of colour of skin or in terms of different sizes, or in terms of intellect. We concentrate so much on those things rather than love. It is possible to love, it doesn't matter if you are crippled, or you are blind, this is the common thing that we all have. I live my life by being more aware of the spiritual. I am attracted by spiritual masters. The teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Krsna of Prophet Mohamed, of all different religions, I am completely open. I am for the union of all religions and also for the union of all the people on earth. Because I feel like, that I think that I attract universal consciousness. So when I am playing I attract people who are inspiring, who want the world to think this way.

 

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