the sound of a bee in flight or many voices in
conversation. A pleasant sensation, a sense of excitement or urgency.
So what's the buzz?
Well, all of the above. Honey bees came to live in my chimney when I was putting Buzz Words together in the summer of early 1996. You could see their systematic bee-line for the flower beds and blossoms. I got stung a couple of times when I got in the way of their low flying tactics. But as their numbers grew to about 100,000, and they threatened to come into the house we called the bee-man to end their stay.
Many bumble bees (Bombus/also known as the humble bee) also hovering about the garden that summer. I loved to watch them, and even have them land on me, as a child. The honey bee has a respected icon-like place in New Zealand culture. They're industrious, inventive and we enjoy the fruits of their labours on our toast and to sweeten our drinks, they pollinate our crops and are socially very organised. The Bumble Bee, although it doesn't produce honey, is well respected for its ability to pollentate crops.
Looking through family photos I was pleased to see the yellow and black 1953 Chevvy sedan in which I learned to drive. My sister Denise referred to it as the bumble bee. While in Australia I managed a group of rock musicians called the Buzz Band. I had a poster designed for them, featuring a rather otherworldly bee. Looking at that poster 22-years later, I figured Buzz Words was a good title for a new book, but the idea of combining words and music kept nagging me.
I invited Gavin Collinge, a damn fine guitarist, composer and friend to discuss my ideas and possibly become the musical director. We began experimenting in February 1996, and were both pleasantly surprised with what began to take shape. We began rehearsing with a shortlist of words and musical ideas. By June we had worked most Sunday afternoons and a few week nights and decided to jump in at the deep end. We booked time with recording engineer Neil Hannan at Scoop de Loop studio in Mt Eden, Auckland.
In many ways Buzz words is a bold experiment - I've been told it doesn't fit anyone's radio playlist - it's not poetry or songs, it's not new age or rock or pop or hip hop - it's just Buzz Words. The title piece Buzz Words describes that dilemma and my fascination for bumble bees. Another describes the paradise location of the carving Te Hunga Rere Tai, overlooking the bushland home of long time friends Brian and Lynette Ladyman and their yacht named Queen B. A variety of other themes and ideas are also explored.
Armed with an early demo tape of Buzz Words, I went north to see friends Andy and Sheila . It soon attracted the attention of several honey bees, one buzzed the cassette while another crawled down my folded arms into cupped hands, as if looking for hidden nectar. Friends of Gavin's said the largest bumble bee they'd ever seen flew into the room while listening to our demo. As the project progressed bee anecdotes became abundant. While I was reading a bee story in the Sunday Star Times studio co-director and remarkable singer Jacqui FitzGerald mentioned the discovery of a bumble bee nest in her garden. Just then another music industry diva, Mahia Blackmore wandered in offering propolis throat lozenges which are based on the bees royal jelly. On a business trip to San Francisco I met a young jazz musician Vernon Bush, who showed me the sights and some of the best jazz clubs. It turned out he has a band called Teru Buzz. In Japanese, Teru means enlightenment. I rang the Buzzy Bee company to seek copyright permission to use the Kiwi icon. I introduced myself - hi I'm Keith Newman - and explained the situation. His name was Keith and the intellectual property company we had to deal with was called Newmans - we both laughed.
I guess it makes sense that if you are interested in something you have
a heightened awareness of related things. Synchronicity, sympatico, good timing, being in
harmony with the universe, little messages from God? I don't know for sure but I love it
and I love beating the odds. Buzz Words is about just that beating
the odds, rediscovering the pioneering spirit, breaking the mold, making a difference.
Buzz Words is my faith investment I mortgaged the house and took an enormous risk. I was
blessed Allan Morton, managing director of Software Images, offered to send out 500 copies
of the Extended CD to top businesses around the country. What a head start. I'd been told
I'd broken all the rules and there was no format for what we'd created. Technically bumble
bees shouldn't be able to fly but they do. I like bumble bees and I hope these words take
wing for you.
- Keith Newman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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