Sources: Camden Review – By Roisin Gadelrab | All Things Michael
On Friday we saw Mo give a This Is It masterclass at Wardour Street’s Yamaha Music, with full band. Switching between instruments, talking about Jackson – “a prankster”, he confides – and introducing vocalists, including one he discovered at a workshop, Mo demonstrated the music pulsing through his veins. While working on a million projects, he spends considerable time helping budding musicians and those from difficult backgrounds. It was his work with the Amy Winehouse Foundation that led him to Chalk Farm Road’s Camden Guitars, leading to a friendship with owner Deicola Neves.
Musicians wishing to benefit from this maestro’s knowledge – Mo has worked with everyone from Earth Wind and Fire to Roberta Flack, Christina Aguilera to Janet Jackson – should follow this page. He will soon be holding masterclasses at Camden Guitars, helping musicians as the shop’s in-house producer in its new music studio and to find jobs and gigs. His album Mo – Elements of Pleasure and Michael JacksonTribute album are out next year.
“Since Michael died I dedicated myself to recreating his songs in different styles,” said Mo. “Just Another Part Of Me was a major funky tune. I’ve got it as a straight jazz version, like Miles Davis’ So What.” He feels the depth of Jackson’s music production and vocal percussion techniques were not given the recognition they deserved.
“He knew everything about everything – the lighting cues, the CGI, the magic, he was part of every bit of it,” Mo said. “From what I understand, he did the show for his children. They knew he was a superstar but they’d never seen him in concert. It is horribly sad.”
Mo thanks his wife for leading him to Jackson after she learned of his tour from friends. “Us musicians, our wives talk to each other,” he said. Michael’s music director happened to contact Mo and mentioned he was working with Jackson but said they already had a keyboard player.
“Stay tuned,” he added. The keyboard player was locked into an American Idol contract so Mo was brought in three weeks behind in rehearsals.
“I started in March, Michael died on 25th June,” said Mo. “We were days away from coming to the O2. We would have started in August.”
Unsurprisingly, Jackson was very much the perfectionist and required flexibility from his musicians.
“He was adamant about sounding like the record,” said Mo. “We had to learn all songs in three or four keys. When you’re singing, the voice changes and sometimes you can’t sing as high. Michael wanted to be able to choose, so at any given day he could change the key.”
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