Improvisation Goyesque


Homenaje (Manuel de Falla)

Cordoba (Isaac Albéniz)

Shangri La Audio Download


Shangri La Series

Aloha Friends,

I hope this finds you in great spirits and health!

I am writing to inform you that soon I will be posting a series of videos of three pieces that are dear to me. Two of the three are compositions by legendary Spanish composers and the other by a legendary South American Guitarist-Composer. With that much information I will let them be surprises as we progress through the series.

How this came about was to some degree haphazard and organic. In June of this year I had the urge to record these pieces. I asked my great friend John Kiehl if I could come down to his studio and record. He, in his endless generosity, complied and we had a wonderful time recording.

I then thought that perhaps I should make guitar-video “art pieces” in which the guitar would be featured but in some exquisite location.

That led to me asking the great folks at Honolulu’s Shangri La if I could do a video shoot there.  The Shangri La was the home of the great Philanthropist Doris Duke who was a passionate collector of Islamic Art. It is unlike any pace I have ever been and is a renowned museum. Much to my surprise and utter delight the  wonderful people at the Shangri LA said yes!

At this point, I just needed a videographer. “Wait a minute…” I says to meself. My daughter just graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a BFA, maybe she will be up to the task of working with her father? Yikes, not easy for anyone!!! She said yes and the journey began. We had a blast doing the shoot at such an extraordinary location. Anyone who has visited the Shangri La after a few minutes starts to wonder “hmm…how can I live here?” It is that magical.

I want to make it clear that these are Mitsuko’s creations visually with some executive help from her older brother John. My brother Don will be posting on the various platforms with some much appreciated outside assistance.

We have now arrived at the final stage of the journey. Accompanying each video will be a short article about each of the pieces you will find on my web site under Ben’s Deep Thoughts.

In closing, I want to say what an honor it was to record these pieces and to shoot them at the Shangri La. I’m extending a huge mahalo to all who helped them come to fruition, and you know who you are.



Improvisation Goyesque

Dear Friends,

What a joy and a journey it has been to write music for the upcoming documentary The Goyesque. I will not say too much about the documentary but simply guide you to the site. Some of you have already seen the site and can trace the film's evolution from its beginnings.

About 4 years ago my dear friend, Christopher Burke, world renowned art photographer, asked me if I would write music for a documentary film he was directing about - among other things - the prominence of the bull in the history of art. After seeing masses of compelling footage I simply had to say yes.

This video was shot in the Roman Arena in Arles, France. Chris, his director of photography, Martial Barrault, and editor, Eben Bull,  decided to film me playing in a couple of different locations in the famous arena. At the same time they were also filming at a variety of other sites. Some of the footage of the bulls was taken during bullfights, which they had filmed in the arena a few years earlier.  In other footage of bulls, they are roaming fields in the province known as La Camarque.

The music I am playing is not an actual improvisation as the title implies. What I did was to play the various sections from the second movement of my piece, Now and Ever. I played them in a free and improvised manner.  I weaved in and out of sections, not in the sequence that appears in the original work. I wish I could say it was all improvised a la Keith Jarrett. I chose this piece early in the project because it fit perfectly with so many of the images. The music in this video will be in the finished film. It will likely be altered and scored for different instrumentations.

Since the beginning of the project I wanted the music to come from the perspective of the Bull. To the extent that is possible, that served as an emotional starting point.

As we progress I will be writing additional music which may or may not end up in the film but will be part of a CD release. Among the guests that will appear on the CD are the legendary guitarists Andy Summers and Paco Pena.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as we enjoyed making it. I want to extend huge thanks to Eben Bull who made 98% of the artistic decisions, and did all the editing of both the music and the film. In addition, tremendous thanks go to Christopher Burke and to Martial Barrault and his fabulous film crew. It has been an honor and a joy to be part of this project. 

Until the next time, Peace, Love, Guitars and Bulls!

Links to The Goyesque







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