Jazz in Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

MURRAY McNABB (1947-2013): The new man with the courage to make himself new

13 Jun 2013    2

The plan would have been timely: a concert acknowledging the half century he'd known and played in bands with drummer Frank Gibson. But then everything changed. “They gave me a year, that was a year ago,” says 66-year old keyboard player and jazz genius McNabb about the cancer diagnosis he received, “So I'm going downhill gradually, losing weight. It's getting hard to... > Read more

Missing You (1987)

Ketil Bjornstad: Songs from the Alder Ticket (ECM/Ode)

9 Jun 2013

An interesting one which plays off the synaesthetic relationship between the arts and the performer. Bjornstad is a Norwegian novelist and his trilogy about a piano student Aksel Vinding allowed him to consider how the emotions and storyline could be also realised in music. A long established classical pianist himself with a number of albums on ECM -- with the likes of guitarist Terje... > Read more

Evening Voices

JACK DeJOHNETTE (2013) From the Sixties into his 70s

5 Jun 2013

If you got togther any group of contemporary jazz drummers -- "a violence of drummers" perhaps? -- it would be the rare figure in their midst who didn't name Jack DeJohnette among their top five influences. Born in August 1942, DeJohnette has enjoyed a career which spanned what was called the avant-garde (with Roscoe Mitchell, Richard Abrams and others in his hometown of Chicago),... > Read more

Riff Raff

Samsom Nacey Haines: Cross Now (Rattle Jazz)

27 May 2013

In a recent conversation with keyboard player Murray McNabb and drummer Frank Gibson -- who have played together for 50 years and founded the seminal New Zealand jazz bands Dr Tree and Space Case -- the topic turned to the problems for younger players today. Not enough live work and no residencies came up immediately. No place for musicians to work things out in the crucible of the... > Read more

. . . with eyes averted

Michael Formanek: Small Places (ECM/Ode)

3 Apr 2013

A 2010 album from a band lead by bassist Michael Fomanek -- the excellent The Rub and Spare Change -- brought an unexpectedly vigorous, Downtown NYC sound to the ECM label. It seemed a rare one in the label's often poised, sometimes emotionally distant but always interesting roster. Perhaps after being stung by the critical and listener reaction to bands like the post-punk jazz of Lask... > Read more

Slightly Off Axis

Nathan Haines: Vermillion Skies (Warner)

29 Mar 2013    1

Following his highly successful, back-to-origins Sixties-framed album The Poet's Embrace, saxophonist Nathan Haines here not only continues in a similar vein but expands the parameters of his writing (the ballad Lady Lywa is instantly memorable and a real highpoint of economy and craftsmanship) and works with a large ensemble on a stately reworking and expansion of JJ Johnson's midnight ballad... > Read more

Lady Lywa

ALBARE INTERVIEWED (2013): Has career, will travel

29 Mar 2013

Melbourne-based guitarist Albare – born Albert Dadon – has made quite a journey through jazz. It has involved more than a few countries, time away from playing as director of the Melbourne International Jazz festival for nine years, and now being signed to the very credible Enja label. Albare, born near Rabat in Morocco, makes his first tour to New Zealand in early April... > Read more

Cut to the Chase

Paul Bley Quintet: Barrage (ESP-Disk)

20 Mar 2013    1

Recorded in one night in October '64 for the seminal free jazz label ESP-Disk (and initially re-presented in 2008 as part of their reissue programme), this selection of six pieces written by Carla Bley further illustrates how pervasive the influence of Ornette Coleman was at the time. Not his Free Jazz album so much as his earlier Something Else!, Tomorrow is the Question and The Shape of... > Read more

Walking Woman

MARZETTE WATTS PROFILED (2013): Everywhere I hear the sound of . . .

14 Mar 2013

Should anyone doubt the close connection between American free jazz and the rise of radical black politics in the Sixties they only need to look to the life of saxophonist Marzette Watts. However Watts -- who died in early '98 a week short of his 50th birthday -- gets barely a footnote in any jazz histories. His name is usually just as part of a list which includes Ornette Coleman, Marion... > Read more


Paul Van Ross: The Buck Stops Here (IA/Rattle)

10 Mar 2013    1

Tenor and soprano saxophonist Paul Van Ross recorded these eight originals with a quintet at a Melbourne jazz club (before an inaudible audience, if there was one) in just one day in April 2011. That's a measure of how confident the players are, and presumably how familiar with the often bouncy and slightly quirky material they were.  Van Ross writes tunes in what we might call a... > Read more

Someone Somewhere Sometime

PHAROAH SANDERS; IN THE BEGINNING (2013): The call of the free

8 Mar 2013

The two times I saw the great Pharoah Sanders he could not have played more differently: the gig in a New York club had him as the edgy post-bop player in front of small, serious audience; the performance in New Orleans as a populist Afro-funk soul-inspired jazzman who had people up and moving. I interviewed him in 2004 in advance of an Auckland concert (which I didn't see because I... > Read more

Cocktail Piece (take 2)


18 Feb 2013

With a husky chuckle Hugh Masekela recalls himself as a curious child, some 70 years ago, who would wake, wind up the gramophone and sing along with every song. “I was obsessed by music. I thought there were people living in the speaker of the Victrola and that's where I wanted to live. And that's where I've been living ever since.” South African-born Masekela –... > Read more

MEREDITH MONK PROFILED (2013): Art for art's sake

4 Feb 2013

New Yorker Meredith Monk (born 1942) has created a world of her own between the vocal art-music of Laurie Anderson, contemporary dance and cutting edge film, avant-theatre and that place Bjork ended up on her 2004 album Medulla which was almost entirely a cappella vocalising. Monk wrote a fascinating opera for voice and a few instruments (Atlas in ‘92) and almost imposed herself on... > Read more


Crayford, Sellers, Dyne: Our Own Sweet Way (ia/Rattle)

30 Jan 2013

Released through the Independent Artists imprint of Auckland's Rattle label -- albums which don't quite fit the remit of Rattle Jazz but are deserving of wider distribution -- comes this collection of tunes by the likes of Thelonious Monk (Eronel, Bemsha Swing), the late Dave Brubeck (the title track), Wayne Shorter (Fall), Horace Silver (Nica's Dream), Dizzy Gillespie (Woody'n'You) and... > Read more

Things Ain't What They Used To Be

Stephan Micus: Panagia (ECM/Ode)

29 Jan 2013

In a previous profile of the German-born musician Stephan Micus (here), I noted that his musical journey has run parallel to a deeply spiritual one and this album -- his 20th for ECM, settings of six Byzantine Greek prayers alongside quietly moving instrumentals -- would seem the culmination of a particular voyage. As always the multi-instrumentalist and singer reaches beyond perhaps the... > Read more

You Are a Shining Spring

DAVE LISIK INTERVIEWED (2012): The mothership takes flight

21 Jan 2013

Canadian-born and US-educated Dave Lisik is one of the more innovative composers at work in New Zealand today. And also highly prolific. A scan back through Elsewhere's files shows him working with electronic-meets-jazz for Colin Hemmingsen's Fate and the Processor, a not dissimilar approach using taonga puoro (traditonal Maori instruments) played by Richard Nunns on Ancient Astronaut... > Read more

Ebony and Moonlight

Tania Giannouli, Paulo Chagas: Forest Stories (Rattle)

21 Jan 2013

Although not on the Rattle Jazz imprint, these eight diverse, melodic and mood shifting pieces are pure improvisations for piano (Giannouli) and saxes/flutes/clarinets (Chagas) and evoke something of the timelessness, emotional space and natural power of the forests of the title. Without much difficulty -- and let's be honest, pure improvisation along these lines can be hard going for most... > Read more

This Beautiful Hard Way

PALLE MIKKELBORG PROFILED (2013): Another man with a horn

7 Jan 2013

The curious thing about the career of Denmark's acclaimed jazz trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg is that after 25-years as a professional -- and at the top of his game -- he came to wide international attention only in '84 with a suite which was performed by another trumpeter. That music, which subsequently appeared on the album Aura in '89, was played by and written in honour of Miles Davis... > Read more

White (by Palle Mikkelborg)

STEPHAN MICUS PROFILED (2013): Music of the spheres and beyond

1 Jan 2013

Take a deep breath because here’s a partial list of the instruments German multi-tasker Stephan Micus has played on recent albums: Bavarian zither, tin whistle, sattar, steel guitar, Japanese flute (shakuhachi), tuned flowerpots, Egyptian flute (nay), steel drums, Indian sarangi, dulcimer -- and lots I can’t even pretend to know about like bolombatto, sinding, dilruba, doussn’... > Read more

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Live (ECM/Ode)

1 Jan 2013

A previous album by this often melodically minimalist, rhythmically propulsive and effervescent group around keyboard player Bartsch -- Llyria -- was singled out as one the Best of Elsewhere in 2010 and this double live disc recorded at various venues between 2009 - 2011 confirms that they are something special. And different. Young, vigorous and playing with a constraint which sometimes... > Read more

Modul 17 Tokyo