Monday, May 29, 2006


I have changed the settings so the anybody can comment. Now you don't have any excuse! Let me hear from you once in a while so I know you are there. That will make me happy.


I met Don Cherry while he was playing in Jazzclub Montmartre in Copenhagen in 1963. One night, as he was passing me, he just said hi and we started talking. I knew a bunch of young jazz musicians and they had met him too. So they all came to my studio because I had a drum set and an old automatic pianola that also could be played manually, and Don came too when he was free.
Don met Lone, the only other member of the group, besides me, who didn’t play. Lone was sixteen, tall and coltish and very beautiful. On a blustery night they knocked on my door and came in, all full of the wind that had whirled columns of dead leaves up in the air. They were obviously in love, in the first intoxication of each other.
The next year was the apex of my midlife crisis. I had sold practically everything and was staying with some friends in the countryside. Don and Lone came visiting and we went for a walk. At a particular place at the edge of the forest there was a wide view over a field with grazing cows. Don took out his trumpet and started playing with a lyrical feeling that surpassed anything I had heard before. The cows lifted their heads; then they all approached and stopped in a half circle in front of us, obviously enchanted by the music. It was a magical moment!
I was going to Morocco and Don wanted to go with me. Lone went to France before Don and I left. We met her in Paris and she wanted to come with us, but Don didn’t want her to come. He was trying to get off junk and, whatever his reasons, he had a way of imposing his will. I also wanted to do this trip alone with Don and, besides, the car, a Citroën 2CV camionette, was awkward for transporting more than two people. So, after a week in Paris, we left Lone. It hurt her more than I realized and she bore a grudge against me for a long time.
I wanted to bring Don to Jajouka, the enchanted village where the worship of the Roman god Pan is still enacted every year as a mask dance where the goat-god visits the village while the Master Musicians Of Jajouka play pan flutes and small dununs. I had been there two years earlier with the help of the Moroccan artist Hamri, a friend of the beat poet Brion Gysin. Now I found my way by my self. At first the villagers were hostile; they didn’t remember me and took Don for a Moroccan. After some attempts at explanation, Hamri’s brother arrived; he recognized me but was still suspicious about Don. It was not until Don brought out his trumpet that they would believe that he was American. Now the atmosphere changed into friendliness and in the evening all the musicians gathered in the big room and played their flutes for us, and Don played with them.
As soon as we left Jajouka Don had the urge to go home and I was alone, sooner than I had expected.
I only saw Don once during the next ten years. He played at Montmartre in 1971 and presented his newborn son to the audience.
Then in 1974, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama first visited Denmark, I met Don with his wife Moki and their children Neneh and Eagle Eye. We found out that we lived not too far from each other in Sweden. In the house where I lived, in Älmeboda, the communal life was deteriorating and Don said, come and stay with us.
I moved in at Tågarp School, into two small rooms over the entrance. One was my bedroom-workroom, the other my meditation room where Don joined me every day for a homemade puja with incense, bell ringing, Tibetan song and a short meditation. Downstairs was the teacher’s apartment and two large schoolrooms. One was the music room; the other was Moki’s domain where she worked on big banners among heaps of exotic fabric. Her banners were hanging in all the rooms and they were also used as background for Don’s performances and workshops.

Here was the atmosphere of creativity that I had missed in the commune in Älmeboda. Don had been to India and had learnt something about ragas. He had brought home a tanpura and I had the dilrupa (see photo) that Torben Huss* had given me. Don would try out ragas on the French horn or he would combine the Indian sounds with the doussin gouni, the hunter’s guitar from Africa. I had my first experience with African rhythm when Bengt Berger came fresh from Africa and had us play a rhythm he had learnt.
Don was into working with the family and I was now part of the family. We did a tour of northern Sweden with Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos and we went to Paris, Don and Moki, Neneh, Eagle Eye and I, and did musical workshops with kids. At night Don would read a good night story to four years old Eagle Eye: a chapter from Zen master Huang Po’s life and teachings!
Lone was still part of Don’s life. Whenever he passed Copenhagen, he stayed with her, and in 1972 they had a son Christian. Nobody wanted to be bearer of these tidings to Moki, so she was the only person who didn’t know.
Lone came to the area near Tågarp while Don and Moki were away and I invited her and Christian over for dinner. It got late and I offered them to stay over. Then came a Surprise! Early in the morning Don called from the airport and asked me to pick them up. Lone quickly packed her things so I could drop her off on the way.
If this were a movie the camera would now focus on a stuffed bear lying forgotten on the floor. It was the first thing to catch Moki’s eye when she came home, and the whole story came out. It really shook everybody up. Don said he didn’t want our friendship to be damaged by it, but he thought it was best if I went away for a while.
I went on a tour of Buddhist centers paying my way by painting thankas and ending up at Plaige in France in Kalu Rimpoche’s center. A year and a half later I went back to Tågarp to take care of the place during the summer while Don and Moki were away. After that I had decided to go back to India, but Don said, you must see New York City. - OK, I thought, why not go the other way round to India?
I never got further than Santa Cruz, California. Here I saw Don twice when he came to play at The Kuumbwa Jazz Center. First time he was with Codona, a trio with Collin Walcott and Nana Vasconcelos who played an interesting fusion between jazz and folk music with sitar, tablas, doussi n’gouni, berimbau, etc. The second time he was with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell, back in the groove of modern jazz and, I am afraid, also of heroin. A third concert was announced in 1995, but it was cancelled due to sickness. My intuition told me that it was Don who was sick and so it was. Next thing I heard, he had been taken to his daughter in Spain where he died on Oct. 19th nearly 59 years old.
Don was a musician’s musician. He was always experimenting and was among the pioneers of modern jazz and fusion with world music. He was torn between the environment of New York where jazz and hard drugs were too often associated and the creative hippie environment that in some ways suited his spirit better, but where money were scant.
I am deeply in dept to him for his opening up for participation in the music and for his inclusive generosity.

*) Torben Huss, a Danish photographer, took the pictures of Don and me.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


All verses in the Koran opens with 'Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim'. (In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate)
This is a favorite subject of Muslim calligraphy.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Merlin's graduation

It was the first time in my life I went to a graduation ceremony. So it was kind of interesting in spite of being boring. Afterwards I was generously rewarded with luncheon in Merlin's home where I met old friends and new people. My friend Mary gave Merlin the mandala he is displaying on the photo, she is a wonderful artist.

Click picture to enlarge

Friday, May 26, 2006

From The Upanishads (I think)

The text translates:

Now you are hidden
not revealing yourself to anyone;
now you uncover yourself
in all the things created.
It is for your self without doubt
and for your pleasure
that you bring forth these wonderful impressions,
for you are at once the essence
of the sight one sees
and your own onlooker.

Play With Me!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My Father

When I was thirteen, playing in the attic one afternoon, I found a tin box full of old letters, postcards, and photos. A treasure box full of interesting things. Among them was a letter from my father to my mother, dated about one year after my birth. My father’s wife, he wrote, had found in the pocket of his jacket a picture of me. The story was out, and she had given him the choice, either to leave her or to promise never to see my mother or me again. He felt that my mother was the stronger of the two, and well able to take care of herself, while his wife, whom he had brought to Denmark from Poland, was an introverted and shy person and had more need of him. So, that was good-bye.
The letter did not have much impact on me; I had always known that my father was Aage Roose, a painter with a wife and a daughter. It just gave a clear outline to something that was already settled in my mind: I didn't need a father. If any busybody asked about my father I said: “He is dead.” That closed the inquiry - and for all I knew he could as well be dead.
The summer after the war ended, I was twenty, living with my aunt Eva. One sunny afternoon the phone rang. It was my half-sister, Gunvor. Someone had told her she had a little brother and she had to see me. Was that okay? Could she come? Yes of course! We made a date for lunch the next day.
At thirty-three Gunvor was still in the bloom of her beauty: Spanish in looks, dark and blue eyed, slim and elegant. She seemed very taken with her little brother. I was a bit uneasy with adoring women, but for the moment it was still pleasant to be admired. When she was leaving, Gunvor asked if she could tell our father that she had met me, and I said yes. I was curious and did not foresee the implications.
A week later my father came for lunch. I saw that meeting me touched him, but I had no corresponding feelings. A nice elderly gentleman, with whom I did not feel any special closeness, that was all.
For the next many years our relationship consisted in two yearly lunches at one of the better restaurants in town, at Christmas and at my birthday. It soon became rather tedious; his stories about old Copenhagen bourgeoisie and artists repeated themselves, and there was nothing in my life to interest him. Even when I began to paint it didn’t give us much in common. I think he disliked my paintings as much as I disliked his, and we avoided the topic. At the end of the lunch he gave me my present, for birthday or for Christmas, always the same, one hundred Kroner (=$13). That was a handsome amount in 1946, but it was never adjusted for inflation, and as the years went by it hardly seemed worth the sacrifice of an afternoon.
When I first saw my father he said he would tell his wife that he had met me, and I should come in their home, but he never got his courage up to make good on this promise. Not until his wife had died did he invite me to his house.
It is hard now to distinguish one visit from the other, but one of the first I do remember because my father had invited his brother Thorkild and Poul Vinding, a journalist from Politiken, the newspaper of the Radical Left, which was neither very radical nor very left, but the party of the intellectual Copenhagen bourgeoisie. My famous uncle, Thorkild Roose, was an actor at the Royal Theater and still playing at the age of 84. The talk turned into rather nasty gossip about the openly gay actor, Holger Gabrielsen. Suddenly Poul Vinding turned to me and said: ”You don’t like faggots either, do you Mr. Delbanco?” Though I was out to my friends and my closest family, I had never felt like opening up to my father, and I still habitually would panic when the word faggot was mentioned among people that I didn’t trust. Without a second’s pause I countered with a question of my own as if it had been on my mind before he asked his. Afterwards I was angry with myself for being such a coward. This didn’t help to draw me closer to my father. I did not know what fathers were for, but I knew that he had cheated me out of it. I always felt that he owed me something and I found it natural that he should help me, which he did, once with an “advance on my inheritance” and once with finding a place to live.
During my years of frequent travel I didn’t see much of my father or his side of my family. The next to the last encounter was occasioned by Gunvor’s marriage to a wealthy and utterly conventional businessman. I met my father and Gunvor at his cluttered apartment; it seemed we had nothing to say to each other and we resorted to playing dice.
After that some years passed without any contact. Then, before going to India, I called, in part hoping for some financial help, but I never got the chance to ask. When he answered the phone he was angry right away, and said he didn’t want to see me. Ten minutes later he called back and said he was sorry; of course I could come.
Our last meeting began like the others. We had our meal and he talked about whisky and cigars. I have not mentioned his phobia of religion. He hated religion to the degree that when his sister became a believer in Christian Science he stopped seeing her, though they were next-door neighbors. She got sick and died without seeing him. His utter materialism offended me and I asked him: “What do you believe? You must believe something, what is it?” It was a rhetorical question, and I don’t remember if he answered. But as he was getting up to let me out he said: “I always kept my affairs in order.”
“Also when you got me?” I asked.
“What do you say?”
“I say: also when you got me?”
“That was a mistake,” he said.
We went out in the hall, I put on my coat, and peaceably we said our last good-bye.
From India I wrote and told him that I was considering monkshood. He never answered, and he died the year after at the age of 92, while I was still in the East. When I returned I wrote a letter of condolence to Gunvor, but she did not reply, nor did I ever hear anything about inheritance. Generally, I know that he was beloved. Gunvor worshipped him, and on her refusal to communicate with me after his death I can measure his bitter anger. It had been better if we never had met.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Being a painter I am naturally into colors, but I am also an engineer, who loves structure and this combines into different color mandalas.
Here is a simple one showing the three primary colors, the three complementary colors and mixtures of these colors either next to each other or opposed to each other:

I also analyzed a rainbow spectrum cast on a wall by a crystal and came up with the following:

The three primary colors overlap each other and create the secondary colors. So, to see how big a part of the spectrum each primary color occupies we must count not only the color itself but also the color it creates by mixing with the next primary color.
Red and its influence on yellow (=orange) measured 6.
Yellow and its influence on red (=orange) and on blue (=green) measured 14.7.
Blue and its influence on yellow (=green) measured 36.
Now 36 divided by 14.7 equals 14.7 divided by 6, which means that the three primary colors spread out in accordance with the golden mean.

The character of red is penetration, that’s why the sunset is red.
The character of yellow is brightness.
The character of blue is dispersion, that’s why the sky is blue.

Here is another mandala incorporating the white light source and the no-light of infra red and ultra violet:

Finally a mandale of fourteen colors with different meanings associated:

It is strange that mixing red and blue makes violet, which is at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum from red.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lao Zi Leaving Zhou

I have just finished this painting that I began to work on about eight years ago. For years it stood in a closet barely past the state of drawing. Then, this spring I was inspired to finish it and it feels good.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Planting Fruit Trees

Common Vision concluded their Fruit Tree Tour with a planting at Dunun Village accompanied by agricultural rhythms

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dunun Village

The river was pretty high, here I am crossing: (photo by Vijay)

Not everybody was as lucky: (photo by Michael)

Gabriel, Ethan, Jed & Jesse raising the canopy with some helpers:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ashanti and Tony

Tomorrow morning I am going to Dunun Village with Tony and Ashanti's father Vijay. I will be out of the reach of technology as far as blogging is concerned, so please wait five days for the next post.

Monday, May 08, 2006

More Paintings

Visiting with my two artist friends, Gunnar Saietz and Anne Marie Brauge in Labbeville in France I found comfort and inspiration, delicious French food made by Gunnar and paintings: Gunnar’s wild surrealism and Anne Marie’s mind-twisting, dreamlike drawings and watercolors.
Here they are with their son David and me in the background:

I have one of Anne Marie’s paintings from that time:

My work was very different:

I still had North Africa on my mind:

Thunderclouds over Labbeville:

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Friday, May 05, 2006