Almost one and a half years in musical backwaters controversial saxophonist Joseph Hellon talks about his passion for jazz music and reveals all about his past, writes George Orido
Joseph Hellon is arguably a fine jazz player. The self-proclaimed jazz maestro has cooled off controversy involving Finger of God Church to bounce back on the scene with double blazing gun at the Secrets Lounge during the weekly Monday Jazz and Clad night. Musician Joseph Hellon onstage [PHOTOS: PIUS CHERUIYOT/STANDARD]
Musician Joseph Hellon onstage [PHOTOS: PIUS CHERUIYOT/STANDARD]
Hellon is mending fences and is paring with his longtime friend Mr World Kenya Odadah Okello – a former Mr Kenya winner for five years in row – to bring to perform live and engaging jazz music in Nairobi.
The night is for showcasing good dressing and great music. "We not only give you the very best Kenyan Jazz, but there is a theme dress code every week," explains Hellon who in 2010 had a falling out with TV anchor Esther Arunga and former classmate and business partner Quincy Timberlake.
From 6pm to 11pm patrons get entertained with a cocktail of jazz.
"When Odadah came up with the idea, I thought it was great. So we approached the management at the Secrets Lounge and they too fell for the Jazz night," he enthusiastically recalls in Queen’s English.
The jazz and Clad is drawing huge following with men and women turning up in colourful and grand designer suits at the event.
Since January, last year, Hellon has been holed in the studios working with Afro-fusion award-winning producer Abbi at the Indigo Studios in Lavington Green working on his latest album.
It is undergoing mastering in Denmark and will be released in March.
The title track is Fish Conspiracy – a song about those who exploit the poor.
Other tracks include Los Alosa Koda recorded in Benga Jazz rendition, Ariemb Ariemba, Rafiki Wa Kando and Okumba.
"I love singing from the ancestral lingua franca because there is just so much inspiration," says Hellon, whose music prowess shot to national limelight when he joined the Tusker Project Fame Academic staff.
But when he teamed with Arunga and Timberlake to form the controversial Placenta Party of Kenya, he lost his position at TPF.
"When I realised I could not trust Quincy, I decided to stop associating with him," declares Hellon, who claims the Placenta idea was Quincy’s.
Is he still in presidential contention?
"No. I have decided to give it time. I am also still young. I want to give it better thought given the immense responsibility that comes with it," says Hellon. He does not rule out future considerations especially in 2017 General Election.
Dressed in a blue suit Hellon says last year was the worst time in his life.
"I was arrested and arraigned in court on trumped up charges. I am glad the court found me innocent," says Hellon. He regrets his liaisons with Timberlake who he describes as the source of all the problems that beleaguered Finger of God Church.
He blames Timberlake for "taking advantage of my friendship to betray my trust".
TV diva Arunga’s marriage to Timberlake is yet another blot in his life that he would like to forget.
"People said that I am the one who linked the two. It is not true," he denies rumours that he used his Runda home to fix marriages.
Instead he says Arunga was invited to his house as a relative. Since she had met Timberlake in Australia things started happening given that both were living under the the same roof.
Denying that he ever cast a spell on Esther he poses, "If it were true that I did that in my prayers how come it was only her and not the rest of the Church members?"
But the Cambridge University trained musician is remorseful for any error of judgement on his part that might have affected anyone negatively.
"I even apologised to Esther’s parents for allowing my house to be used by Quincy who went ahead to disappoint them," he discloses adding that he is in touch with her mother.
Hellon says he is turning a page on his life and has embarked on farming in Nyahururu.
"I am growing Aloe Vera in the farm. I have another farms at the coast for massive commercial agriculture," he discloses.
Stressing that he came from a humble background Hellon denies that Finger of God is for the rich and the mighty.
"My mother, who is a member, could not raise my fees at Starehe Boys Centre. I had to depend on well wishers to finish school."
He also runs a music school in Westland, with 170 students and 11 teachers.