Sandy Brown Jazz

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Jazz As Art

Camilla George
The People Could Fly


When you listen to music, you sometimes conjure images in your mind. Our Jazz As Art series invites you to listen to a piece of jazz and as it plays, scroll down the page and see which of the pieces of art I have chosen comes closest to the pictures in your mind. Hopefully, this will introduce you to recordings and art works you might not have spent time with before.


The People Could Fly is the title track from saxophonist Camilla George's 2018 album. The album is named after a book of African folk tales that portrays the lives and experiences of African slaves who created stories in which animals have assumed the personalities of slaves and slave owners. "The People Could Fly was my favourite story in this collection of tales," says Camilla. "The cover illustration showed men and women flying over the cotton fields. The idea behind it is that some Africans were magical and had the ability to fly but through long enslavement, lost the ability to fly away. This image is bittersweet for me as it is a fantasy tale of suffering and is a powerful testament to the millions of slaves who never had the ability to fly away".


Camilla George


Camilla George is a London-based saxophone player, improviser, composer and teacher. She began playing when she was 11 years old when she won a music lesson and as a result took up the saxophone. In 2012 she graduated with a Masters degree in Jazz from Trinity College of Music, and she won the Archer Scholarship for outstanding performance. Since 2004 Camilla has been working with both Tomorrows Warriors and the Nu Civilisation Orchestra; she joined award winning band, Jazz Jamaica - in The People Could Fly book2013 Jazz Jamaica were nominated for a MOBO award for Jazz Performance - and in 2014 she joined Courtney Pine's Venus Warriors. Her debut album Isang was released in 2016.

The album intrigued me enough to get a copy of the book on which the music is based - Virginia Hamilton's 'The People Could Fly' and alongside the album it makes a great package. A school library journal says: "The well-known author retells 24 black American folk tales in sure storytelling voice: animal tales, supernatural tales, fanciful and cautionary tales, and slave tales of freedom. All are beautifully readable. With the added attraction of 40 wonderfully expressive paintings by the Dillons, this collection should be snapped up." Click here for details of the book and to listen to an extract.

The album The People Could Fly is varied and textured like the stories it tells. The African reflection is strong in Tappin The Land Turtle, the opening track featuring Cherise Adams-Burnett's vocals: He Lion, Bruh Bear, Bruh Rabbit is the first track that features a Daniel Casimir bass solo - I'm glad there are more from Daniel. How Nehemiah Got Free is funky with Casimir pushing on electric bass; Little Eight John is lullaby-like; Carrying The Runnings Away builds from Winston Clifford's drum intro. and has excellent piano playing from Sarah Tandy and Daniel Casimir again; The Most Useful Slave has Winston Clifford on drums and chains atmospherically taking us into a blues with noticeable playing again from Sarah Tandy, and the album closes with Here But I'm Gone - Quentin Collins guesting on trumpet and with Omar Lye-Fook taking the vocals, if not the substances, he sings about. The album is under Camilla George's name - her creative playing, vision and influence certainly underlies the success of this album - I don't know whether the arrangements are collective or by Camilla, but they are also certainly worth crediting.


Camilla describes The People Could Fly track as 'bittersweet', but I don't hear sadness here, to me it speaks more of hope and promise. The theme is light and Camilla's saxophone 'bookends' some fine guitar playing by Shirley Tettah. As with the whole album, the mix is excellent.

I have chosen 12 paintings to go with the tune - play the track and scroll down to see the paintings ........ (I think this only works if you spend time with each painting).






Shai Yossef


Shai Yossef painting




Costanza Knight


Costanza Knight painting





Sarah Levy


Sarah Levy painting





Anil Lakhera


Anil Lakhera painting





Chris Spies


Chris Spies painting





Leonid Afremov


Leonid Afremov





Shelli Walters


Shelli Walters Blue Guitar





Max Beckmann


Max Beckmann painting





Wilfredo Lam


Wilfredo Lam paining






Ana Lesac painting





Pamela Earleywine


Pamela Earleywine painting




Leo and Diane Dillon


Leo and Diane Dillon painting




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More Jazz As Art
Video Juke Box
Tracks Unwrapped

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