Jazz in Elsewhere

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

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Auckland Jazz Orchestra: Darkly Dreaming (SDL Music)

2 Nov 2015

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

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

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

18 Sep 2015    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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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