This afternoon we will be celebrating one of the most distinctive and skilled percussionists ever to have graced the UK World Music scene. Salah Dawson Miller came to music a little later than many, being in his 20's before deciding that being a professional percussion player was what he wanted to be. But once that decision was made he embraced the music with a characteristic combination of enthusasm and genuine study that would be the hall mark of his playing for the rest of his career. Although not formally educated as a musician he quickly became adept in a number of different types of music and being the sort of musician he was, once he had decided to master a specific style he would then go to the source to ensure he performed it "properly". So when he was working on Cuban music...he went to Cuba, when he started performing African music he took himself off to Africa and similarly his impressive grasp of Eastern and Middle Eastern music was as a result of his travels through Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and the Sudan. His thoughtful, sensitive and crteative playing was a hallmark of numerous bands and gigs throughout his 40 year career along, it has to be said, with a killing dress sense (his outfits sometimes received as much attention as his playing!). The bands and musicians that he performed with are legion, starting from his early jazz days with the Johnny Howard Orchestra through his work with the likes of 3 Mustafa 3, London School of Samba, District 6, Working Week, Robert Plant and London Afro Block to Chakchouka and his own Saladin's Orchestra. His work with the Internationally established Amel Tafsout, a traditional Algerian singer/dancer who was also his wife of many years, cemented his reputation as a versatile and skilled performer on a wide range of instruments and he was probably best known at the Club as the persussion player with my Brazilain band Samara, performing with us here on the last Friday of every month for more than 20 years. Sadly, Dawson lost his battle with a serious degenerative illness last Septemmber and it's a measure of the enormous respect with which he was held that so many musicians from across the musical divide have asked to perform at this Memorial Concert this afternoon. Participants will include Andres Lafone, Dave Bitelli, Chris Batchelor, Roy Dodds, Paul Clarvis, Sonia Slany, Stuart Hall, Ben Mandelson, Joe Townsend, Chas Whitaker, Justin Adams, Nigel Watson, Lu Edmonds and of course Amel Tafsout. This promises to be a wonderful afternoon of World Music to celebrate one of the UK's percussion masters. Dawson was also a respected teacher and students from the Royal Academy of Music will be performing a tribute to him, with all music monies collected today going towards a bursary in his name to help fund the studies of future percussion students at RAM. And it's probably appropriate to leave the last words to Dawson and his performance philosphy: "What I try to do is to bring out the best in the other musicians that I'm playing with. That's what music is all about".
"...people often asked me about the mysterious wizard on percussion. Dawson....cut a regal and enigmatic figure onstage, with his....otherworldly outfits and his touch. His travels....as well as his life in multi-cultural London....imbued him with a passionate love of cultures where music is a communal, dancing experience. Wherever there was rhythmic interest, Dawson was there to investigate" Justin Adams; "To my mind, Dawson is an unsung hero of the UK music scene, a pioneer in opening peoples’ minds to other artistic aesthetics. I owe him much" Dave Bitelli
Official Link: http://www.606club.co.uk/events/view/dawson-miller-memorial-concert/