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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

New Zealand Artist Jono Heyes' Globally Connected, Borderless & Peace-Promoting New Album 'Beehive'

By Stevie Connor.

Global songsmith, bandleader and life-learnt ecologist Jono Heyes has brought together a group of international musicians, led by studio engineer Jerry Boys for a new album and video project entitled Beehive.

Beehive is a collection of original songs, all recorded in one take, over 8 days of immersion in the Beehive studio, deep in the Czech countryside. With seven international musicians in tow and sung in Spanish, English, French and Sanskrit, the album rhythmically flies through the Balkans, the Caribbean, Latin America, West Africa and even to the steppes of Mongolia. It features fiddles, contrabass, piano, percussion, trumpet and various homemade instruments such as the Moroccan-styled guembri and was conceived by Jono Heyes, and is his fourth album proper.

A sonic safari across the world, woven throughout the album is a humanist thread with a borderless ambition to transcend cultural identity and inspire peace and wonder in listeners. To dive deeper into the Beehive universe, the album has also been brought to page with the storybook 'Nectar of the Gods', penned by Jono himself from his isolated blue Gipsy Wagon in the depths of the Czech Republic. In the book, we are invited to discover the magical stories and reflections behind each song.

"Come with me, we will ride boats on endless seas, to see the skies that have always been"

A modern-day beatnik, after reading Jack Kerouac's On the Road at eighteen, Jono flew across the world with a backpack and guitar. On one hitch between Spain and Lyon in France, guitar in hand, he found himself in a park where Jeanne Louise Calment, the oldest documented human had once lived. There he was mesmerized by the magic of a flamenco guitarist and a dancing yellow spider. There is a glorious laid-back energy to the song which suddenly flares up into a flamenco passage, which pays homage to the spider in the tale, followed by the poignant piano passage of Trevor Coleman, evocative of Rubén González, clearly touched by the original Buena Vista Social Club aesthetic - and not surprising since the Beehive project was presided over, engineered and mastered by Grammy award-winning Jerry Boys who has worked on the Buena Vista Social Club.

In Beehive, we witness the beauty of the live element, capturing the pulse of an oscillating musical heart. There is an irresistible alchemy of the Beehive structure and the cross-pollination of global musical influences. Space, tone and Jono's raw energy are crucial dynamics to the recording, with fellow countryman Trevor Coleman’s soaring trumpet and lyrical piano solos adding a colourful and jazzful dimension. The violin of Anna Štěpánová illuminates the spiritual path with songs like Holyman and Satya (Truth) both fine examples. In the track Mani’s Eyes, Jono’s vocals veer to a near-throat singing style with Eastern Europe clearly close by.

At times, like an orchestra, the full seven-piece Beehive band overflows with rich melodic motifs, and full acapella vocal choruses as can be heard in the piece Greenstone. In the Malian-inspired piece For Toumani, we are treated to textured grooves, providing a bed for passionate vocals and a soaring build-up.



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