Jazz in Elsewhere

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MILES DAVIS INTERVIEWED (1988): Man with the attitude

20 Sep 2010  |  12 min read  |  1

It was probably about lunchtime in New York, but here in Auckland it was 4.30 am on a grim and watery Tuesday, hardly the best time to do a phone interview. Certainly not this prearranged caller to the man known as the Prince of Darkness and who has been known to open his end of the conversation with a terse “Don’t ask me no stupid questions man.” But with a quick press of... > Read more

RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK (1936-77): Just a wild'n'crazy guy?

20 Sep 2010  |  3 min read  |  1

Nobody talks about Rahsaan Roland Kirk much anymore. Maybe it’s because his recording career was too erratic, maybe because this sometimes fright-inducing multi-instrumentalist (literally, he could play three saxophones simultaneously) went kinda strange from time to time. You know what some listeners are like – they are dullards who like things linear and consistent. Guys like... > Read more

Roy Budd: Get Carter soundtrack (Silva Screen/Southbound)

19 Sep 2010  |  <1 min read  |  1

The classic Brit-film Get Carter of '71 -- Michael Caine in a career-defining role as a London gangster out for revenge in grim Newcastle -- could have come with a period soundtrack, but Bowie and T.Rex would have sounded pretty silly in this bleak context. But, as with the first adaptation of In Cold Blood, it sounded so much better with cool jazz and disturbing quasi-classical pieces. The... > Read more

Roy Budd: Goodbye Carter

COURTNEY PINE INTERVIEWED (1998): Finding the inner man

6 Sep 2010  |  7 min read

Courtney Pine is diverted from telling his daughter how Tony Blair trounced the opposition and of the legacy of John Major. “She's four months old, it’s never too early to start,” he laughs, then embarks on a discussion about cricket. “You’ve got a good team – and it’s a rebuilding time,” he offers charitably. Politics, family and... > Read more

CHARLES MINGUS: Genius captured in the late Fifties

30 Aug 2010  |  2 min read

Charles Mingus was one of jazz's greatest geniuses and remains among the most misunderstood. Irascible and demanding, his personality and roguish reputation often tower larger than his inspired music. The respectful Columbia Legacy reissue in '99 of two of his late Fifties albums – Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty – restored the genius part of this bassist/composer back into... > Read more

Charles Mingus: Open letter to Duke (from Mingus Ah Um)

CHARLES MINGUS, PITHECANTHROPUS ERECTUS IN 1956: Man standing up tall

30 Aug 2010  |  3 min read

By the time Charles Mingus died in 1979 at 56, most of the obituaries had already been prepared. Mingus, suffering the increasingly debilitating Lou Gehrig's disease, hadn't been able to walk or play bass in a year, and things just got worse. When told of his passing, the bassist Charlie Haden said, "Charles Mingus was one of those rare human beings who created his own musical... > Read more

Charles Mingus: Profile of Jackie

PHILIP LARKIN ON JAZZ: The poet laureate of swing

23 Aug 2010  |  3 min read

Because we listen to the jazz of the Thirties and Forties at such an emotional distance, it is almost impossible for the 21st century, iPod-carrying, cool post-modernist to feel something -- possibly even anything -- of what so affected those who heard it as fresh, exciting, innovative and daring at the time. It is hard to sell the idea, let alone the music, of Benny Goodman or even Louis... > Read more

Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra: St Louis Blues (1929)

Gabor Szabo: Jazz Raga (Light in the Attic)

16 Aug 2010  |  1 min read

Originally released in 1967 -- the Beatles' Norwegian Wood which used sitar was on Rubber Soul, released late '65, and folk guitarist Davy Graham employed Indian tunings prior to that -- this album by Hungarian-born US-based jazz guitarist Szabo saw him pick up sitar for a series of short pieces which explored the sound and possibilities of the instrument, but not the long form of the raga as... > Read more

Gabor Szabo: Ravi

ALBERT AYLER: Opening the door to the future

16 Aug 2010  |  2 min read

Albert Ayler -- the inspired, heroic, driven and sometimes difficult saxophonist who committed suicide in 1970 at age 34 -- still stands at a crossroads in jazz. By the late Nineties – when an exceptional, expanded edition of Ayler live surfaced -- even the music's most ardent advocates were having to concede that jazz was almost an historical artifact. “Contemporary... > Read more

Albert Ayler: Our Prayer

Various Artists: Message from the Tribe (Universal Sound/Southbound)

15 Aug 2010  |  <1 min read

On the surface this may look like one for those with selective taste: here is a 12 track collection of inner city jazz from Tribe Records out of Detroit between '72 and '76. The dates are important: Motown had all but gone from the city, many of the jazz musicians had been used as session players but were inspired by Archie Shepp, Ornette Coleman and politicised free jazz, and the... > Read more

Doug Hammond: Wake Up Brothers

Roger Manins: Trio (Rattle Jazz)

12 Aug 2010  |  2 min read

Taking the pulse of New Zealand jazz is difficult: just because there are festivals (which rely on imported drawcards) and the annual Tauranga event (a guaranteed core audience because of its youth band competitions, and overseas guests) doesn’t mean the music is healthy. Nor do wine’n’jazz events or vineyard concerts which are more about the occasion than the... > Read more

Roger Manins: Missing Wes

MARCUS ROBERTS INTERVIEWED (1990): Keys and thought in black'n'white

9 Aug 2010  |  5 min read

Recently a well known jazz writer, Pete Watrous - not known for his exaggeration - acclaimed Marcus Roberts’ new album Deep In The Shed as “the best jazz album for a decade.” Put that to 26-year-old pianist Roberts and he laughs (for the first and only time in an earnest half-hour conversation) and starts to sound like Elvis at his most awkwardly modest and... > Read more

Marcus Roberts: Spiritual Awakening

Andy Atwill: 3 Sides of the Same Coin (Ode)

9 Aug 2010  |  <1 min read  |  1

Bassist (electric and acoustic), composer and arranger Atwill pulls together the cream of New Zealand jazz players (including Ron Samsom, Carolina Moon, Kevin Field and Kim Paterson) for this calling card of diversity recorded in London (which explains the presence of Greg Heath), Sydney, the States, Germany and New Zealand over the past five years. From the self-explanatory titles on Bass... > Read more

Andy Atwill: Leaps and Bounds

CECIL TAYLOR IN 1990: Florescent flights

9 Aug 2010  |  4 min read

Genius is the word a lot of people use about Cecil Taylor – but words get pretty debased these days. (“Genius, that‘s like brilliant - but better, yeah?” ) So let’s just say Cecil Taylor is different and interesting. Way back in the Fifties they used to debate whether his abstract speedthrash piano playing was actually music at all and as... > Read more

Cecil Taylor: Saita

Zirkus: Sirius Music (iiii)

8 Aug 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Wellington certainly throws up some interesting, if not always convincing, improvising artists who edge towards the free jazz idiom but rather hit a default position of swing-cum-Dixie with some slightly self-conscious moments. This one -- recorded live in Happy and on the iiii label -- shows that the spirit of the old Braille label and artists like Six Volts still looms large as this big... > Read more

Zirkus: Swamp Song

ROY HARGROVE INTERVIEWED (1990): Young man with a horn

6 Aug 2010  |  3 min read

Roy Hargrove’s youth is the reason he doesn’t have too much to say for himself. At 20, Hargrove simply may not have all that much to talk about. After all, what can he have done? Quite a lot, in fact. Three years ago while still in high school, this hot jazz trumpeter out of Texas was playing on stage at the famous Caravan of Dreams Theatre in Fort Worth alongside... > Read more

Roy Hargrove: The Nearness of You

ORNETTE COLEMAN AND THE NAKED LUNCH SOUNDTRACK (1991): Something else, again

2 Aug 2010  |  4 min read

Movie director David Cronenberg was a gutsy guy, asking Ornette Coleman to play on the soundtrack for his inspired but ultimately flawed realisation of crusty old Bill Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Ornette Coleman was the perfect choice, of course – eccentric and of Burroughs’ period, he'd spent time in those hills above Tangiers and had the musical accomplishment to... > Read more

Ornette Coleman: Intersong (from Naked Lunch, 1991)

Neil Cowley Trio: Radio Silence (HideInside/Southbound)

1 Aug 2010  |  <1 min read  |  1

British jazz pianist Cowley and his trio seem to blow hot and cold: their '06 album Displaced was terrific (see here), but on their Loud Louder Stop of last year (here) they resorted to repetitive rock-like riffery as if to distance themselves from the "jazz" world. There is more hard hammering riffery on parts of this new album but here at least Cowley stretches out to show those... > Read more

Neil Cowley Trio: Vice Skating

Scott LaFaro: Pieces of Jade (Resonance)

26 Jul 2010  |  <1 min read

The great jazz bassist Scott LaFaro didn't have a long time -- he was killed in a car accident in 1961 at age 25 -- but his impact on acoustic jazz was, and remains, significant for his work in the classic Fifties trio with pianist Bill Evans and drummer Paul Motian. His gentle, often high, singing tone allowed for great emotional dexterity and depth -- and appended to this short collection... > Read more

LaFaro, Friedman, LaRoca: Woody'n You

Orchestra of Spheres: Nonagonic Now (Sound Explorers)

19 Jul 2010  |  1 min read

This rhythm-driven four-piece from Wellington is one part early Talking Heads (or the Feelies as a jazz ensemble), a slug of Sun Ra if he'd come from South East Asia and not Saturn, some seriously brain-bending guitar work (with one ear on mad Afro-juju as much as bent country jiggery and scattergun free playing), theremin, tape machines, chanty sections and Lord knows what else. It is an... > Read more

Orchestra of Spheres: Isness