Riff explores the turbulent life of the Caribbean musician and poet Shake Keane (1927-97). A trend-setting but troubled Caribbean icon, he absorbed many of the themes of the 20th century - colonialism, migration and masculinity. Each of them found expression in his work.
Born in St Vincent, he migrated to London in the early 1950s where he became an important figure in the free form jazz scene. A return to his birthplace was blighted by politics, and his last decades were spent in self-imposed exile in New York City and Norway.
'This beautiful, evocative biography of Shake Keane explores with equal passion Keane’s double life as poet and musician and his innovation as a virtuoso in both art forms. Nanton brilliantly contextualises Keane’s life through the multiple lenses of Caribbean nationalism, post-war migration and the formation of Caribbean literary identity. A compelling and captivating read'- Hannah Lowe
'The story of Shake Keane has never been more inspiring or relevant to the times in which we live. Born in St Vincent, the trumpeter was an integral part of innovative bands led by Joe Harriott and Michael Garrick in the 1960s, and defied expectations of what a West Indian musician could achieve in post-war Britain. Keane was also an accomplished poet with a sharp wit and strident humour. Philip Nanton’s excellent biography creates an engaging portrait of a restless, complex soul'- Kevin Le Gendre