Jazz in Elsewhere

Interviews, overviews and reviews of interesting historic and contemporary jazz musicians and music.

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Andy Sheppard Quartet: Surrounded by Sea (ECM/Ode)

31 Aug 2015

Those old enough the remember when British saxophonist Andy Sheppard emerged as a new wave out of Britain alongside Loose Tubes, Courtney Pine and others might be surprised a little by this elegant and very restrained release. But he is on ECM and now nearly 60 so perhaps this is not so unexpected. With his established trio (double bassist Michael Benita and the renowned drummer Seb... > Read more

A Letter

Michael Houstoun/The Rodger Fox Big Band: Concerti (Rattle Jazz)

10 Aug 2015

Much as New Zealand's most accomplished classical pianist might have wanted, and indeed deserved, a less arduous project after his magisterial Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas, this one with the country's premier big band does seem an odd fish which often seems to satisfy neither camp. More correctly perhaps, each camp frequently seems to mining its own vein independent of the other. Or, in... > Read more

Raff Riff

Kevin Field: The A List (Warners)

5 Aug 2015

If the album title may seem to be raising expectations to a rather lofty region, this new one by Auckland pianist/keyboard player Kevin Field -- whose previous work under his own name or with others has been much admired at Elsewhere -- passes the test without too much stress. And, in truth, he does have some rather stellar company here, not the least expat bassist Matt Penman now widely... > Read more

Protean Sketch

Mike Nock and Roger Manins: Two-Out (FWM)

28 Jul 2015

Some weeks ago for background on a non-Elsewhere project I spent time listening through to at least a dozen, probably many more, albums by pianist/composer Mike Nock. They covered everything from solo recordings through duets and trios to large ensembles, from straight-ahead jazz piano to his early music which edged into proto-fusion. Nock's discography is expansive: Norman... > Read more

Tennessee Waltz

Richard Nunns and Mark Lockett: Redaction (Rattle)

13 Jul 2015

The background to this recording -- conceived as spontaneous improvisations between taonga puoro master Richard Nunns and percussionist Mark Lockett in conjunction with an audio-visual installation by photographer Veronica Hodgkinson -- is outlined in the booklet for this cutting edge album, which could perhaps find no other home in New Zealand than on the increasingly daring Rattle label.... > Read more

Sleeping Giant

Reuben Bradley: Cthulhu Rising (Rattle Jazz)

29 Jun 2015

First in passing, a comment about the consistency of packaging of CDs on the Rattle and Rattle Jazz labels: they are excellent and make the CD into an art object. That is enhanced especially on classical albums associated with the Wallace Art Trust where a work from that collection is included in the cover with a short biographical note about the artist. AS with ECM albums, there is... > Read more

In His House at R'lyeh

THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA REVIEWED (2015): Keeping up the standards

29 May 2015

More than just carrying the music and legacy of the great Count Basie (who died in '84), the orchestra that bears his name and played Auckland's elegant Civic defies the logistics and expense of touring such a large ensemble and takes a style of music to audiences which would otherwise never hear the sound of a disciplined, professional and knowledgeable big band. With 17 players on... > Read more

SCOTTY BARNHART INTERVIEWED (2015): Leading Count Basie's band and legacy into the future

11 May 2015

Although the great jazz composer and band leader Count Basie died in April 84, the band plays on. The Count Basie Orchestra, an 18-piece recording and touring ensemble touring New Zealand this month (see dates here), is keeping Basie's sometimes boisterous, frequently moving and always swinging music alive and out there. Although band members and leaders have changed down the... > Read more

Labcoats: O Potassium! (Braille/RPR)

11 May 2015

If there is an area of New Zealand music which has gone woefully overlooked -- largely because the albums were released in limited numbers at the time and are no longer readily available -- it is the avant-garde music made during the Eighties. Musicians like Ivan Zagni, Steve Garden, Peter Scholes, Don McGlashan and others in Auckland (often recorded on the now defunct Unsung label), and... > Read more

dogcatchickenmeatcowman

Mathias Eick: Midwest (ECM/Ode)

9 Apr 2015

This Norwegian trumpeter has appeared previously at Elsewhere, but never with quite the wistful, reflective and thoughtful work as here, an album inspired by the territory of its title where he -- like so many of his countrymen and women before him -- ended up. Those Norwegian pioneers went west to settle the land but Eick and his band ended up in the region at the end of gruelling North... > Read more

November

NICOLE JOHAENNTGEN INTERVIEWED (2015): Playing the colours

1 Apr 2015

Visiting German saxophonist Nicole Johaenntgen – whose website shows her playing with Thai folk musicians, a rapper, improvising on the Beatles' Come Together and with her pianist brother Stefan deploying loops and unusual soundbeds in their own band – clearly doesn't have time for narrow-minded jazz purists. “I want that diversity. I know a lot of musicians... > Read more

MARVIN “SMITTY” SMITH REMEMBERED (2015): Give the drummers some

13 Feb 2015

Because I always worked as a journalist, even if it was in the world of music, I never considered myself part of the music world. I was always only ever the “outsider”. The observer and reporter from their worlds. And so, as such, I never wanted nor made the mistake of being a “friend” of the many – indeed many hundreds – of creative musicians I... > Read more

The Creeper

Bernie McGann: 1966 (Sarang Bang)

31 Dec 2014

Because there is a surprising paucity of readily available music by the great Australian jazz saxophonist Bernie McGann -- who died in September 2013 aged 76 -- this is an especially gratifying release. In glorious mono on vinyl (housed in a good solid stock sleeve) this album is created from two, previously unissued, live sessions in Sydney. And these five pieces capture a rare moment in... > Read more

Chuggin'

SHORT PASSAGES: A quick overview of recent jazz releases

16 Dec 2014

Facing down a slew of jazz releases, Elsewhere will every now and again be obliged to do a quick sweep like this. Comments will be brief. But we are keen to acknowledge as many jazz releases as we can . . . Chick Corea Trio; Trilogy (Concord): Still at the top of his game -- as those who have seen him in New Zealand in the past few years will attest -- pianist Corea, now 73, here... > Read more

Annalisa

Various Artists: Machaut Man and a Superman Hat; The Music of Dave Lisik (Rattle Jazz)

15 Dec 2014

Canadian-born, Wellington-based composer/producer/arranger/etc Dave Lisik has appeared at Elsewhere a number of times previously but never quite like this. Whereas previous outings under his name like Ancient Astronaut Theory (with Richard Nunns on taonga puoro) and Fate and the Processor (with saxophonist/clarinet and bassoon player Colin Hemmingsen) explored the intersection of overlaying... > Read more

Au Chien Qui Fume

Jarrett, Haden, Motian: Hamburg '72 (ECM/Ode)

11 Dec 2014

The death this year of the great bassist/composer Charlie Haden robbed the world -- and not just the jazz world -- of one of the great artists of our time. It would take far too long here to go into the musical diversity he embraced (from Ornette Coleman to American country music), the plethora of artists he performed with (great jazz musicians to Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr), his political... > Read more

Life, Dance

LEE MORGAN, THE SIDEWINDER REISSUED (2014): Smack, a soul-jazz hit and a shooting

24 Nov 2014

The luck of Lee Morgan -- such as it was -- ran out in the early hours of February 19, 1972 at Slugs Saloon in New York CIty. That's when his partner Helen More -- a hustler and former prostitute according to drummer Billy Hart -- shot him dead after an argument. Morgan was just 33. But in a way he was lucky to have survived so long. On the night he was down on his luck again and... > Read more

Hocus-Pocus

Paul Bley: Play Blue (ECM/Ode)

17 Nov 2014

It seems absurd to say it -- but others have -- that this solo concert in Oslo by pianist Paul Bley is a career highlight. Absurd, because at the time of this recording in 2008 he was 75. But this astonishing tour-de-force finds him freely improvising in a way that is filled with daring runs, endlessly melodic extrapolations from the smallest of ideas and a muscularity leavened by an... > Read more

Flame

Louis Sclavis Quartet: Silk and Salt Melodies (ECM/Ode)

16 Nov 2014

By any measure this is an unusual album from French clarinettist Sclavis with guitarist Gilles Coronado and keyboard player Benjamin Moussay (who worked together previously as the Atlas Trio). Part jazz-improv, some pieces which seem more like fragments from soundtracks, and melodies which are firmly from the "world music" camp, this makes for a slightly scattershot experience.... > Read more

L'homme sud

Stefano Bollani: Joy in Spite of Everything (ECM/Ode)

27 Oct 2014

Although this album gets credited above to the witty, inventive and very lively Italian pianist Stefano Bollani (familiar from albums with trumpeter Enrico Rava), the Danish rhythm section of bassist Jesper Bodilsen and drummer Morten Lund will also be known to followers of the ECM label (again through the Rava connection) . . . although perhaps not as familiar as the other two players, the... > Read more

No Pope No Party