Phil Jones: Didgeridoo Medicine Man

by Jerry Kranitz

From Aural Innovations #20 (July 2002)

(Go the end of this article to listen to a Phil Jones radio show in RealAudio while you read)

Loose lips! Loose Lips! That's the number one rule Phil Jones wants to get across when teaching a novice how to play the Didgeridoo. Actually there's far more to it then the loose lips which allow you to produce the classic Didgeridoo sound. There's also... ugghhhh... CIRCULAR BREATHING!! Phewwww.... But more about that shortly.

When I first heard from Phil who called to tell me he was coming through Columbus on tour presenting his Didgeridoo and Sound Vibrational Therapy workshops, I had never heard the early 70's UK band Quintessence, of which he was the vocalist. Known in those days as "Shiva" Jones, Phil and Quintessence released a few albums on Island Records and were noted for their blend of jazz, progressive rock and Indian Music. Concerts were typically all improvised, and while I've yet to hear the albums I did have the opportunity to hear a live show from 1972. The music flows continuously consisting of lulling jazzy ragas and the Eastern influence is at the forefront. Really nice stuff and I'll be keeping my eyes peeled to find the albums. The band played shows with most of the UK bands of the time including Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, and countless others. At their peak they performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival and had two sold out shows at the Royal Albert Hall.

Prior to Phil's success in the UK with Quintessence, he briefly struck it big in his native Australia with the band Phil Jones & The Unknown Blues, who had a hit in 1965 with the song "If I Had A Ticket". After Quintessence folded Phil formed the band Kala who released one album but disbanded after nine months due to difficulties with the record company. Returning to Australia, Phil discovered an interest in Aboriginal culture and the Didgeridoo. Years of spiritual journey has led to the present, which sees Phil touring nearly the entire year in an RV with his wife Jennifer and two dogs, presenting his Didgeridoo and Vibrational Sound Therapy workshops at yoga centers and schools, and continuing to record music (reviews below).

Coincidentally, the yoga center Phil was to appear at in Columbus was just a few short blocks from my home. I had met with Phil in the morning for an interview and having found him such a pleasure to talk to was really looking forward to the workshop. That evening me and Deb headed over, and upon entering immediately saw Phil setup along the back wall. I introduced Deb and met Phil's wife Jennifer, but was quickly drawn to the assortment of hand crafted Didgeridoo's arranged on a rug. They were beautiful. All ornately painted and all very different, even their shapes taking on varying twists that gave each a unique character.

About 20 people were in attendance and the first thing Phil did was ask everyone to go over and select a Didgeridoo (all for sale). I was surprised at how heavy they were. The end that you blow into is made of beeswax that forms a mouthpiece which is molded over time to fit the shape of the owners mouth. Despite the waxy feel against my mouth, I found the essence of honey wafting through my mouth and nostrils to be quite pleasant. Getting the basic Didg sound down wasn't too difficult and listening to the other participants that seemed to be the case for most. But the clincher is sustaining that sound. Circular Breathing is the method by which those proficient on the instrument maintain the drone, which Phil says he could do infinitely. The trick, as Phil explained, is to keep your cheeks full of air at all times so that you're continually breathing in as you breath out. Not easy!

But we had a wonderful time and Phil includes a great deal of philosophy with the lessons. The day after his workshops Phil conducts hourly sessions with participants interested in one-on-one Vibrational Sound Therapy as an alternative healing method. To illustrate, at the end of our group workshop Phil selected a women from the audience. He sat her in a chair and asked her to place her hands on her knees, palms turned upwards, and to close her eyes. For the next several minutes Phil played the Didgeridoo, pointing the end of the instrument at her chest, and slowly moving around to cover her back and head. When he was done, he slowly stepped to the back wall and remained silent. The women didn't move or open her eyes. She had been a little tentative about being the guinea pig so at first I thought she was keeping still because she didn't know if it was over or not. But then her eyes slowly opened, a surprised smile grew on her face, and proclaimed that she felt like she had been in space. She struggled to describe the experience and it was clear that Phil's sounds had done their magic, yet another example of the value of considering alternative forms of healing and therapy. Didgeridoo Medicine Man indeed.....

In addition to his workshops Phil continues to record and has several CD's available. Shiva Shakti is his most recent project and the one he is most excited about at this time. It's the duo of Phil on vocals and Ralph "Rudra" Beauvert on keyboards. The set includes six re-workings of old Quintessence songs, plus three originals. They call it "Raga Rock" which is a known genre, though I'd never heard the term until Phil told me about it. But space rockers will dig this disc as it brings to mind a sort of Ozric Tentacles style, but if they had a powerful vocalist. Phil's singing is like a mantra that will draw you into a completely focused meditative state, but he can be soulful as well. And Ralph's keyboards cover loads of territory from ambient, to New Age, to symphonic progressive, to techno, but are at all times deep in space.

"Brahman" opens the set with upbeat ragas, Phil's potent uplifting vocals and Ralph's keyboards that are both cosmic, symphonic, and even a bit on the fun freaky side. (See The Mooncow Project CD review this issue for more on Ralph and his music.) "Sri Ram" is similar, but with additional vocalists and flute. I love the combination of Phil and the female vocalist singing in the Indian style. Anyone who has listened to Indian pop music will know what that sounds like (it would surprise westerners). "The Seer" is probably the track with the most powerful and spiritual vocals. This song reminded me so much of The Moondance Experiment that I gave Phil one of their CD's to check out. Heavy percussion gives the music a rhythmic feel that is both tribal and dancey. Do the SHIVA dance!!! "High On Mt. Kailash" and "Sea Of Immortality" are both highly Indian influenced, though the latter includes modern freaky dance and space keyboards.

"Cosmic Surfer" and "Orango Tango (Hanuman Song)" are the tracks that would make hot singles (though truly alternative) if the duo had a mind to go that route. The trippy Indian influence is much in evidence, though "Orango Tango" is a highly soulful song with pounding rhythms and bits of freaky shooting synths. "Shiva Shakti" and "Dark Brother" are two of the original tunes on the disc and are my hands down favorite tracks. "Shiva Shakti" features trippy Ragas with fiery percussion and flute, a strong Indian influence, and kick ass spaced keyboards that Ozric Tentacles fans will love. Simultaneously meditative, mind altering, dancey and quirky, the music and vocals are a commanding force that will have you dreaming of communing with the tribes at Stonehenge. And "Dark Brother" consists of Indian influenced psychedelia meets modern cosmic electronics. Focus on the OM and be swept away with your toes tapping to the beats. At the time of this writing Phil and Ralph are label shopping and I hope this soon sees the light of day because it's a hot album indeed.

The Samadhi and Sunrise CD's are both from 2001 and released on the Intuitive Sound label. Samadhi opens with a solo Didgeridoo tune aptly titled "Didgeridoo Lyre Song". Phil stresses how the instrument only plays one note, but this track demonstrates the wide possibilities for that one note. He runs through all sorts of vibration and sound patterns and even manages to get a little voice into it. And sitting in front of the speakers I could FEEL it rumbling in my chest making for a very physical listening experience. "Samadhi Suite" is a spiritual song that drifts along with acoustic guitar, piano, slow but steady percussion, a drone weaving a constant but shifting path, and of course Phil's vocals singing his theme of cosmic consciousness. "Rama Rave" is a raga tune similar to "Brahman" or "Sri Ram" from the Shiva Shakti album. But this is also probably the most rockin tune on any of Phil's CD's as it includes some excellent blistering shred guitar. Finally, "Mother Of Creation" and "When Thy Song Flows Through Me" are both slow paced but meditational tracks, the former having a Native American feel and some great vocals from Phil.

The Sunrise CD is probably the most purely spiritual of Phil's discs I have, particularly due to the prevalence of inspirational spoken word contributions from Phil, though it's not as musically varied as Shiva Shakti or Samadhi. But there's still some beautiful music on the album. Among the highlights is "Einstein", a duo of Didgeridoo and intermittent but steady-paced banging on a Gong (or something similar). The Didg isn't as upfront as it is on "Didgeridoo Lyre Song" but it's hypnotic nonetheless, and eventually includes Phil's words of higher consciousness, similar to "Samadhi Suite". "Shiva Chant" opens with more beautiful solo Didgeridoo weaving it's droning path through my chest and brain. Soon the percussion kicks in giving the music that dancey tribal feel. And when Phil sings the Chant it will force you to your feet, and if you listen close you'll hear some interesting Didg gymnastics. The rest of album is highly inspirational, the closing title track in particular including spoken word and floating keyboards that conjured up visions of my sitting on a mountain before my spiritual master.

Released in 1998 by Bun Bun Productions, Didgeridoo Dreamings: A Shamanic Journey is, as the title suggests, the most Didgeridoo dominated of Phil's recordings. Having no experience with meditation, I was nonetheless transfixed and directed towards a focused state of mind by the pulsating drones and lullaby OM chants. The album also includes some of Phil's most hypnotic vocals, which are characterized by chants and various other workouts rather than words or lyrics. "Animal Spirits" is one of my favorite tracks, being what must be the mother of all Didgeridoo tunes. It sounds like two Didgeridoo's playing duo, and as the nearly 10 minute track progresses we get into all sorts of wild animal sounds and cosmic chants and efx. Very spacey. The other standout is the 20 minute "Flying Through The Mist" which take the listener on a slow and carefully considered journey that includes sometimes spacey meditative states, the Didgeridoo acting as a potent pied piper. There's also a few minutes that I recognized as being reused for the song "Brahman" on the Shiva Shakti album.

On Saturday morning, prior to the workshop, Phil came to my home where we chatted about his music and workshops.

AI: Let's start early and work our way forward. Tell me about Quintessence and your use of Indian/Eastern influences in the music. Was it similar to what the Beatles had been doing a few years earlier?

Phil Jones (PJ): I think we took it further. There was definitely more room for improvisation. We would have the framework of a song and leave a lot of room for the soloist to expand on that. The guitar would do extensive solos... the flute... it was in the days of Grateful Dead styled jamming, so there would be lots of improvisation and playing off each other. And we would try and write a song around a mode. A mode being notes selected on an Indian scale. And we would write the song in that mode and try and play within that mode so it would be like a Raga. I think the Beatles were more concise in their songs and presenting them that way. We were trying to take it into the realms of what an actual Raga would be. We would start the songs off slowly, then we would move into the buildup, then a crescendo, then we would try and tailor it off very nicely and fadeout. And when you're playing rock music... when it's not strictly rehearsed note for note beat for beat... you're going out on a limb. Because you've got 3,000 people watching you, you better know what you're doing. And we wanted to know what we were doing... and we did... but we wanted to leave enough room for that random factor of... are we really going to strike gold tonight? And when we hit we were the best band in England. So I guess you'd say we were a rock band with a jazz-Raga concept.

AI: I read that your live sets were mostly improvised.

PJ: They were.

AI: Were your albums like that too?

PJ: We were never able to capture the magic that we got on stage. Because they were truly improvised and one song could be 20 minutes, at least! There'd be the guitar, lengthy solos, improvising flute, and then there was the voice. And as the lead vocalist I not only improvised the singing, but I improvised a communication thing with myself and the audience. So I'd move in and out of vocalizing improvisation, then into talking with them or singing to them, getting them involved in the music even deeper.

AI: So it sounds like anyone who had the Quintessence albums only got a partial feel for what the band was about without the benefit of having seen you live.

PJ: Very much a live performance band. It was electric. It was total connection with the audience. When we were on, we were like one... there was no band, no audience, it was just people playing, dancing, singing, jamming... that's what I think music is about.

AI: And you had the benefit of doing this at a time when record companies were actually putting out stuff like that.

PJ: Those were the days when people were really not categorizing music to the extent they do now. I find that people have been programmed by corporate heads and businessmen who run record companies, instead of people with a creative flair running them saying... well here's something really creative and new, let's bring it out. Which is what was great about the Beatles. They never confined themselves to a box. Even though they were concise kind of pop tunes, they could change their style and people would accept that. Music doesn't always have to be in a box. Music is pure creative expression. If you're going to put it in a box because you're afraid of the dollar over the top of it, then you really limit what human beings are capable of expressing musically.

AI: The whole thing just boils down to "product" anymore.

PJ: In England from 68 to 74/'75, it was like an explosion of creative expression. It was just the right time to be there for me. I started in Australia with a band called The Unknown Blues. We were 16 and would send away for a bunch of 45's... records that we read about in these Blues magazines. And we were getting stuff by Leadbelly and the like. So then we interpreted it into our band with an R&B spin... we had an organ player, a guitar/bass/drums, and I was the lead vocalist and played harmonica. We had a hit record that went to #1 called "If I Had A Ticket". So my roots were in Blues, R&B and Soul. And I went to England at 18, going on 19, and I was ready to go into something totally different. So when Quintessence came along we were very experimental, and or course found our spiritual master, and we fed a lot of Eastern influence into it... philosophy and instrumentation into the Rock format. And we were rehearsing in a basement near Portabello Road... this guy named Chris Blackwell said, I wanna come and see you guys. So he shows up at the rehearsal, says he likes it, pulls out his checkbook and writes a check. Says he's going to sign us on his label. Turned out to be Island Records.

AI: You've mentioned in articles about having found your spiritual master. Can you tell me more about how you got into the whole Indian thing and how these influences came out?

PJ: In Australia, from 17 till going on 19, I was interested in Eastern philosophy and Western occultism. Western mysticism. And during those 2 or 3 years I'd searched for some kind of guidance or a teacher. And I hadn't found anyone that was satisfactory. So I started having dreams/impressions of a master... waiting for me... in England. I didn't know what that meant. So I gave up my career in Australia and got a job on an ocean liner as a singer to pay my way to England. And within six months I'd met him. He just showed up and said, "Good to see you again".

AI: So are you the one that brought these ideas to Quintessence?

PJ: There were three of us that were really focused on him. Most of the guys in the band were into this to different degrees. But the Eastern influence was very much my thrust because I wrote most of the music. Some of the group compositions didn't have a strong Eastern influence.

AI: I read where you played the Montreux Jazz Festival and had sellouts at the Royal Albert Hall. It sounds like you were doing really well for a while.

PJ: The first concert we did at the Albert Hall was opening up for Creedence Clearwater. And then the following year we did a solo concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and we promoted it ourselves and plastered London with these big Christmas posters of Quintessence. And we sold it out. I think it was 6,000 people.

AI: You played a lot of shows with bands like Hawkwind and Pink Floyd. Would you say there was a heavy psychedelic element to Quintessence?

PJ: Yeah, I guess you could say we were the ultimate hippie band. It wasn't uncommon for us to do a gig with Hawkwind. Quintessence was kind of like the spiritual psychedelic band and Hawkwind was kind of like the let's go crazy on acid band. For a while there promoters thought it was a really cool thing to put Quintessence on with Black Sabbath because, they said, we won't just get all the hippies but we'll get all the skinheads in too. So what would happen was we'd be playing away and a skinhead would decide to kick a hippie in the head. And suddenly the whole place would be fighting. So we decided we wouldn't be playing with Black Sabbath anymore. But we did gigs with all the people on Island at the time. From Cat Stevens, to Mott The Hoople, I think King Crimson were on Island, Free. And when the Grateful Dead did their very first show in England, we did that bill with them. Deep Purple, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat, you name it.

AI: I was searching Quintessence on Ebay recently and a band called Kala came up, which was described as the band Shiva Jones formed after Quintessence folded. Was this band similar to Quintessence or something that went in another direction?

PJ: Kala was a little more straight ahead rock. It went out of the Grateful Dead jazz-rock thing and more into just straighter harder rock. But still bringing that Eastern edge into it. So I kind of tightened it but still kept the same theme. It had solos but not these lengthy jams.

AI: Did it last beyond the one album?

PJ: It could have been a successful band. It only lasted nine months. Somebody in the upper echelons at the label decided they didn't like what the general manager was doing and just folded the label. And I was on the label so it kind of screwed me. It was one of those things where I couldn't get out of the contract, yet they didn't want to give me a release... it was real difficult.

AI: So they folded the label...

PJ: And I couldn't get out of the contract. And it's hard to get another deal if you're signed to somebody else. I could have got out of it with some legal help but I wasn't in a position to do that.

AI: So what next? Anything between that and the more recent music?

PJ: Well... I guess you'd call it life's journey. I still had little bands on the side that I would work with either in Australia or in New York. I lived in New York for quite a while. A couple of times I got close to getting a deal. I got close to signing with Elektra. I went into the straight world, had straight jobs, changed my life. Because I had stepped out of high school and straight into music. I'd never done anything else. So it was interesting for me to try and find out what life was really like outside of music. A lot of growth. I call it the learning cycle of my soul. Coming out the other end realizing that the best thing I do is creative expression through music, sound and songs, however I want to express it. So I went back to Australia about 13 years ago with my wife and we ended up staying for 6 years. And during that time I connected with the native people and discovered the Didgeridoo. And I found that it was a tremendous boost to my creative expression as an instrument. But... that it had this other side to it that expanded my clarity and focus and accessibility to these higher realms of consciousness. And so I thought this was the ultimate combination for me because I'd been moving Eastern stuff with Western stuff, and now I've actually got an instrument in my hands that is sound, music, breath... but it's also a booster, or an accelerator, into these deep states of relaxation and consciousness. So when it had that effect on me the workshops evolved. I've never scripted anything. And they evolved the way we would evolve a song in Quintessence. So I've allowed intuitive guidance to bring this workshop out and bring it to America.

There's four basic steps to how I teach it. The first step is the meditation, which lowers blood pressure dramatically, enhances the lymph system, gives you higher levels of clarity, focus, and concentration, and brings you into a place of well being. The second step is the circular breathing. That's continuous breathing out as you breath in. The third step is the enhancement of harmonics. I call it the twang. And the fourth step is the projection of the voice, which pushes the envelope of harmonics even further.

That's the basics of what the workshop is about. And in between those steps we're talking philosophy, what does breath really mean, why would I want to get clear and focused, do you believe in the human soul, is there such a thing, is there a higher purpose for human existence, and so forth and so on. What's life about? Is it to gain possessions or is it about fulfillment, and what does fulfillment mean to you?

AI: So it sounds like you cover a lot of ground surrounding the instrument.

PJ: We cover a lot of ground, but we keep it a musical thing. It's only one note, but it's a musical thing. Y'know, at the height of my career in Quintessence, if someone had come backstage when we'd just sold out the Royal Albert Hall and said in 25 years I was going to be playing one note and love it, I would have said get this guy out of here!! [laughs] But that's what happened. I'm playing one note, and we are on tour 12 months of the year with this.

AI: Yes it's one note. But one track that really struck me was "Didgeridoo Lyre Song" from the Samadhi CD. It's just solo Didgeridoo but it really gives you a feeling for the varied possibilities of the instrument.

PJ: Y'know, that set the whole album up because on all these Didg albums there's Didg underneath whatever music we're doing. I did that solo and it was so concise and so precise, and like you said it covered so much ground, I decided I'd said it all in this piece. I'm not putting it anywhere else on the album. Because all the other albums have got Didg all the way through. But we decided to put on this one piece and then create this album of elevating music which has Native American stuff, has a little bit of Afro beats to it... we just went out on a limb with it.

AI: Another thing I noticed about your current recording is that they've got a powerful inspirational feel, yet there's a lot of variety. You incorporate a lot of styles. To be honest, when I first got these I thought it was going to be standard New Age but that wasn't the case at all.

PJ: I try and stay out of the ambient/New Age genre. And in each album we try and leave that same concept open that Quintessence had. How live can we make this album? How improvised can we make it? Sunrise was an album that was totally done in the moment. We said noone's going to rehearse anything, noone's going to know what we're going to do, if I have to double-track my voice I'm not allowed to go back and listen to what I improvised. And that was hard. So it's not precisely produced but you know we're in the moment with it. You know when you write a song, you get the ideas and you play it over and over, and by the time you've finished you've played it at least 50 times. The you rehearse it with the band another 20 times at least. Then you go into the studio and record it, and by the time you've listened that's another 50 times. So you're at least 100 generations away from when you first got the idea. I wanted to be able to get that idea on tape, first go. And that's what we really did with Sunrise.

AI: Let's talk about the Shiva Shakti album. What really strikes me is in addition to your inspirational vocals, Ralph "Rudra" Beauvert has all this great freaky synth work. How did you hook up with him? I think you said he was a Quintessence fan that tracked you down?

PJ: He saw us play in Zurich in 71 or 72 and he thought it was one of the best concerts he'd seen among all the English bands coming through. Two years ago he made some efforts to make contact with the guys in the band. He actually traveled to England to meet some, and went through Europe, and didn't feel the connection he was looking for. And then he found out where I was and called me. So I said sure, send me some stuff. And he sent it and I could hear something there and said let's refine it a little more. And he flew over to San Francisco, I was on tour there, and we met and really liked each other.

AI: He came to the US?

PJ: He flew over with his wife. And me and my wife and they became real good friends. So we kind of got that bonding. Then he went back to Zurich and really put the accelerator down and started really working this stuff. And then when it was ready he sent it over to me to put some vocals down. So we rented a studio on the central coast of California and I put most of the vocals down there. And this was kind of a rush job because I was on tour. But we captured that live thing in many ways. So I put 10 songs down. And that included tracking and harmony. Everything in two sessions. I sent them back to him. He'd start working and send them back to me, until we reached a place where we said, well you're over there and I'm here and I think this is as close as we're going to get to what we want. And we came out with Shiva Shakti... and I really really like it. He's done an excellent job.

AI: So you're label shopping right now.

PJ: We are. The first thing for me to do is to send it out to personal friends that are not in the business, and some that are in the business, and see what kind of feedback we get. There is a genre we know called Raga Rock. And it's very popular in L.A. and New York. And we fit into that. The only difference is we've taken it a little further. So the reaction I'm getting is we're right in the pocket with this but we're different, but still keeping that same feel. So I'm hoping that because we've got an original spin to it that it'll lure a good record label.

AI: So it was just this past year that this recording process went on?

PJ: Yeah, Ralph spent a year and a half on this album. This is his life's passion at the moment. And I'm really grateful because he's a great friend, he's a wonderful musical partner because, and I'll speak for myself, it's the first time we've been able to work with another musician and have a real open free flow of communication without egos getting in the way. And it's been a real gratifying approach to making an album. My only frustrating thing is he's in Zurich and I'm in America. I would love to be in the studio with him while it's being produced.

AI: You had mentioned a process on the song "Shiva Shakti" whereby Ralph sent you nothing but a tone to work with.

PJ: When Ralph wanted to do a new tune, he said why don't you just jam over something with your voice and then I'll see what I can do with it. And I thought to myself, that's hard. I can write a song if you send me some chords. That's the way I usually work. He said, I'm going to send you a tone... one note. An electronic tone with a meter that will mean probably nothing to you. I just want you to jam over it. So all those things in "Shiva Shakti", the voice, the lyrics, I stood in front of the microphone and just sang. And I was thinking as I was singing that this was probably just a big waste of time. And I've never written a song that way. We wrote it on two separate continents and I sang it over a tone... an electronic tone. And then he wrote all the music over what I'd done.

AI: In terms of the single tone was he thinking of something comparable to the Didgeridoo?

PJ: It was just to give me a pitch to sing in. So at least I'd be singing in tune, and then he would write the song in that key. So when you listen to that, think about what he wrote around just me jamming.

AI: Getting back to your workshops, you're playing a yoga center here. Do you play at a variety of places?

PJ: Primarily we've been doing Yoga centers for the last few years. But we do alternative wellness clinics. We do progressive churches. I did a Catholic church in Minneapolis. A progressive Catholic church that had 2,000 people in the congregation. They brought me in looking for something to elevate or assist their practices. We do universities, colleges, schools. I'm actually doing a hospital in Cedar Rapids after we do Cleveland. And I'll be giving a lecture to the doctors there on the benefits of breath work and sound. And then later on it'll turn into a workshop. So we cover a lot of ground. But mostly it's Yoga centers because those people are already looking for that. We do some martial arts places where they're looking for balance with breath. When you play this thing [Didgeridoo] it really centers you. It gives you that Yogic poise or balance, or the balance that they look for in martial arts. You're very centered. Very focused. So I teach mostly to people who are into elevating practices, whether it's martial arts or Yoga. But I also teach it to people who want to clear their mind of what we call the monkey chatter. I have some clients that are CEO's of big companies. And they don't have any particular spiritual aspirations. But they know if they can get a clearer overview of their day they'll know how to run their company better. So these guys will play it for 5 minutes in the morning, and their meditation is just to get clear and visualize how to run their day.

AI: I was thinking to myself that the hardest part of playing the Didgeridoo must be the circular breathing.

PJ: For Western musicians, as liberated as some of us are in improvisation, there's still a thinking process. Say you're a horn player or a woodwind player and you want to learn circular breathing. You're going to try and think it through. Which means you've got to try and figure out how do I use my diaphragm, where do I bring the chest in, where do I bring the neck muscles in, and how do I coordinate the cheek muscles with that as well? And it makes it a very difficult technique to learn for most Westerners. I've refined the exercises down to make it as intuitive as possible. It's all around keeping the cheeks full and I ask the people to focus on one thing... keep your cheeks full and breath in and out at the same time. And as we go into that and you get that little technique down, by keeping the cheeks full they command how the diaphram, the chest and the neck muscles all move in a kind of wave or ripple effect. And it's the easiest way I've come up with to learn it. I try and keep it as intuitive as possible. This thing enhances your intuitive nature. It's one note. We don't want to complicate this thing. We want to keep it simple. Intuitiveness means, as my Hindu master said... Intuitiveness is the enhanced movement of conscious energy minus the intellect.

AI: That says a lot.

PJ: If you think about it what does that mean? How can I have consciousness minus my intellect? Well you can't. It's a state of awareness. It's very intuitive.

AI: You had said once you started playing the Didgeridoo you were able to reach meditative states in a couple minutes that had previously taken you a couple hours.

PJ: Right. It's accelerated that meditative process. For example, if I sat for two hours to meditate, most of that two hours would be spent struggling with my mind. And then at the end of it I'd just start to relax and get into it and then I'd have to go when I really should have stayed another hour. I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful if I could bring the last five minutes right up to the front of my meditation so I wouldn't sit there for an hour or two wasting time with my mind. And that's what this has done for me.

AI: Well I'm looking forward to your workshop tonight. It sounds like it'll be a lot of fun and a lot to learn.

I'd like to thank Phil for contacting me and also Ralph "Rudra" Beauvert for suggesting he do. It's not often I get to conduct face-to-face interviews and spend time with those I'm writing about and meeting Phil and Jennifer was a pleasure. I'll be looking forward to a return trip next year. I think I'll budget to buy a Didgeridoo then and really conquer this circular breathing beast.

For more information you can visit the Phil Jones web site at:
Note that Phil tours 12 months of the year, only stopping home for weeks at a time, so if you want to contact him about CD purchases or his workshops you should call him at: 505-776-2034. Leave a message and he'll call you back.
The Samadhi and Sunrise CD's are available through the Intuitive Sound label. You can visit their web site at:
For info on Shiva Shakti, Ralph "Rudra" Beauvert's various projects, and a detailed Quintessence page, visit Ralph's site at:

Phil Jones Radio Show in RealAudio

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[Track 1: 0:00-9:55] Shiva Shakti - "Shiva Shakti" (from Shiva Shakti)
[Track 2: 9:55-12:30] Phil Jones & the Unknown Blues - "If I Had A Ticket"
[Track 3: 12:30-21:25] Phil Jones - "Rama Rave" (from Samadhi)
[Track 4: 21:25-31:10] Phil Jones - "Animal Spirits" (from Didgeridoo Dreamings: A Shamanic Journey)
[Track 5: 31:10-41:50] Phil Jones - "Shiva Chant" (from Sunrise)
[Track 6: 41:50-55:15] Quintessence - "Water Goddess" (excerpt) (from Quintessence Live 1972)

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