Saturday, January 26, 2019

ROLAND KEIJSER IN MEMORIAM 1944-2019

It is with a hurting grief in my heart and a pain in my soul that I share the news of Roland Keijser's passing. The loss is unmeasurable on so many levels I hardly know where to begin. Maybe by saying what everybody who ever heard him play already know: He was a true master musician. One of those who could make me pick up an album if his name was in the credits. Because he always played the truth. The instrument – no matter if it was the saxophone or if it was a flute from faraway lands – was always an extension of himself. He played like a spiritually enlighted philosopher, phrasing his knowledge of man and music with the immediacy of genuine honesty. He was always on a different level than everyone else. He played like Roland Keijser, and Roland Keijser only. He was a meaningful Musician, always demonstrating the innermost comprehension of Music.

He was also my friend. No, we never met in real life, but we exchanged a vast number of messages and letters over the years. Our Facebook conversations were often long and sometimes intimate, almost in a hushed way. We didn't so much write as we spoke to each other, even if the voices we used were those of the written word. Sometimes we quarrelled – I'm an outspoken person and so was Roland. I wasn't afraid of telling him straight when I thought he was completely off on some topic, and he wasn't afraid to tell me if I have crossed the line of civility. Friends can do that and still be friends when there's a sincere, mutual respect.

But most of the time, we had similar ideas and during our extensive conversations, we touched on a wide array of topics. Even when agreeing with each other, we could make the other person consider other possibilities, calibrating our opinions, shifting our perspectives. Talking to him about Blå Tåget and Arbete & Fritid often generated a tsunami of memories, opinions, historical facts that was impossible to find anywhere else. He narrated his own past, and I eagerly sucked up every drop of information he humbly provided me with.

And he never gave up. During his last months, he battled the big C, but he kept on working. He told me he was busy making new music, and just before his passing, he uploaded a set of brand new recordings to Youtube. A farewell gift to his fans and friends? Probably. He stoically faced his fate, he knew he wasn't able to fool the grim reaper. But he died so fully living that the circumstances allowed him to. He never stopped being a Musician. The full Keijser discography is voluminous; the Arbete & Fritid and Blå Tåget albums are just a little part of something much, much bigger. It's always an interesting listen, often illuminating, never irrelevant.

But it was Arbete & Fritid that introduced me to his music. That particular band was instrumental (no pun intended) in igniting my interest in progg. If you will, Roland Keijser was crucial to the birth of this blog. Without him, this would likely never have happened. His music so often revealed the invisible to me. And I can't stop listening. Arbete & Fritid's first album still moves me in a way few other albums do. It phrases things that the spoken or written language can't fathom. His music, old and new, is indestructible. Resistant to time. It's music that channels the eternity while being an indisposable part of it. Thus, it will never be forgotten, Neither will its creator.

May you rest in peaceful spheres, Roland, and from deep within my heart, thanks for everything you've done for me!

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