Jazz in Elsewhere

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

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MORE CAPITAL iiiiDEAS (2016): Live and direct from Aotearoa

11 Aug 2016  |  3 min read

Although jazz can give the impression of being a one-take music (the performer simultaneously the composer and improvising on the spot), it's often much more considered than that. Witness the number of takes Charlie Parker did for the Savoy label. However, for many purists, jazz is at its best on the bandstand. That is the moment when everyone is on the tightrope and the risks are... > Read more

The Scream, from Dreamville/Jazzmares

Various Artists: Abrazo; The Havana Sessions (Ansonica)

20 Jun 2016  |  2 min read

It is hard to believe but for more than half a century the tiny island nation of Cuba endured a cultural and trade embargo by the United States, largely based on two issues: they are a Communist regime and the notorious missile crisis of the early Sixties. In recent years under the Obama government there has been a thawing in relations, but of course musicians got there first . . .... > Read more

Bugs and Gas

Pat Metheny/Cuong Vu Trio: Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny (Nonesuch)

6 Jun 2016  |  1 min read

The 46-year old Vietnam-born trumpeter Vu established himelf in the NYC Downtown scene in the Nineties, has recorded for the edgy Knitting Factory label and played with Laurie Anderson, drummer Gerry Hemmingway, Cibo Matto and appeared on the unreleased 2001 David Bowie single Your Turn to Drive (aka Toy, the title track of the 2011 Bowie album and also on the recent Nothing Has Changed... > Read more

Telescope

ONE WE MISSED: Chris Mason-Battley Group/John Psathas; Dialogos (Rattle Jazz)

22 Feb 2016  |  2 min read

In 2000, Auckland composer/saxophonist Chris Mason-Battley did something so rare In New Zealand jazz as to be almost unique: for the album Karakia he incorporated and interpreted elements of Maori waiata/song into his music. You would think such local influences would be common enough in jazz, but even today they are seldom explored. That album -- probably hard to find these days -- was... > Read more

Calenture Pt 2

KAMASI WASHINGTON INTERVIEWED (2016): Thinking beyond The Epic

9 Feb 2016  |  6 min read

Those music writers who heard it almost invariably put Kamasi Washington's album in their “best of the year” list for 2015, as we did. And there was a lot of the album – appropriately titled The Epic – to hear. An all-encompassing jazz concept spread over three discs and 172 minutes, The Epic embraced most aspects of jazz history – big band to... > Read more

Final Thought

Mette Henriette; Mette Henriette (ECM/Ode)

25 Jan 2016  |  1 min read

This late-twentysomething Norwegian saxophonist announces herself with this impressive double CD debut, which is all the more interesting for the questions it raises. The first disc finds her with a pianist and violoncello player; the second with a 12-piece ensemble of strings, trumpet and trombone, bass, bandoneon, drums and piano (the superb Johan Lindvall as on the first disc). So... > Read more

Bare Blacker Rum

Auckland Jazz Orchestra: Darkly Dreaming (SDL Music)

2 Nov 2015  |  1 min read

Launched during the recent Auckland Jazz Festival but its arrival catching Elsewhere at an especially busy time, this album deserves serious consideration for a number of reasons. And whether you discovered it a few weeks back or come to it now is no big deal, this music has inner strength and often an impressive muscularity that it will still sound impressive whenever. The AJO is, as I... > Read more

The Moon/The Ritual

The Jac: The Green Hour (Rattle Jazz)

20 Oct 2015  |  1 min read

There has always been the argument that you can't teach jazz in a school, it's an art form which can only be lean red on the bandstand. While that may be true to some extent, what is increasingly clear in New Zealand is that the graduates of jazz courses in Wellington and Auckland are being given some serious musical tools and ideas to get on the bandstand and hold their own. The... > Read more

The Green Hour

Meehan, Griffin, Chisholm: Small Holes in the Silence (Rattle)

16 Oct 2015  |  1 min read

Music and poetry have a long association, even if we might just start with Jack Kerouacreading On the Road to the accompaniment of Steve Allen's piano in the late Fifties. Then there were the Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron and others. The raw poetry of these writers was largely inspired by jazz and, in its lyrical rhythms, rode the rolling freedom which jazz -- notably bebop --... > Read more

Dreams, Yellow Lions (words by Alistair Campbell)

KAMASI WASHINGTON; THE EPIC (2015): Sometimes bigger is much better

18 Sep 2015  |  4 min read  |  1

If progressive rock of the late Sixties and early Seventies taught us anything it was this. That only a rare musician (Pete Townshend of the Who, the acerbic Frank Zappa, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Peter Gabriel with Genesis . . . and not Rick Wakeman) had it in them to pull off a lengthy and consistent concept album. Perhaps it was not in the DNA of a musical form which had... > Read more

Clare de Lune

ONE WE MISSED: Andy Bianco; Home Front (Armored)

12 Sep 2015  |  1 min read

One we missed? Did we what! Here's my recollection: This album -- originally released in the US in late 2013 apparently -- came my way some weeks after an e-mail from US guitarist Bianco in January of this year and it went into a large pile of pre and post-Christmas releases. Bianco subsequently got back to me by e-mail in August just wondering . . . Politely. And time passed until... > Read more

Cirrus Skies

Quantic presents The Western Transient: A New Constellation (TruThoughts)

7 Sep 2015  |  <1 min read

Will Holland -- aka Quantic (among other pseudonyms) -- is a facilitator as much as musician and here gathers a number of his LA jazz pals for an enjoyable collection which works a line between hipster vibe and some fairly traditional sounding charts (often with a supple Latin feel, which he explored more fruitfully and fully with his Quantic Soul Orchestra album Tropidelico in 2007). There... > Read more

The Orchard

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

31 Aug 2015  |  1 min read

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

Eberhard Weber; Encore (ECM/Ode)

28 Aug 2015  |  1 min read

Unusually for an ECM album, this disc comes with liner notes in the form of an interview with Eberhard Weber, the bassist, composer, keyboard player and long-standing artist on the label. The album finds him reunited with flugel player Ack van Rooyen who was on his debut album The Colours of Chloe in '73 and here Weber comments that now maybe van Rooyen is playing on his last album. He says... > Read more

Granada

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

10 Aug 2015  |  1 min read

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  |  2 min read

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  |  2 min read

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  |  1 min read

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  |  2 min read

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  |  2 min read

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