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Brian Smith: Taupo (Manu/Ode)

Brian Smith: Taupo (Manu/Ode)

Most New Zealand jazz is like the Kiwi: endangered, pokes around in the dark away from public gaze and doesn't take flight. This year however is shaping up to be a good one: albums by Wellingtonians Kevin Clark and Charmaine Ford are both worth serious attention, and now a long overdue new album from Auckland saxophonist Brian Smith....

Aronas: Culture Tunnels (Southbound)

Aronas: Culture Tunnels (Southbound)

This is an interesting one: originally released under the same title but in a different cover two years ago from the band lead by gifted young New Zealand pianist Aron Ottignon, it has now undergone a considerable reworking. If you were one of the few who picked up on the early -- and lesser -- version you could actually get into this one...

Liam Ryan: Mississippi 2 Mauao (Torch)

Liam Ryan: Mississippi 2 Mauao (Torch)

On the release of excellent recent albums by Wellington pianists Kevin Clark and Charmaine Ford, and Auckland saxophonist Brian Smith I have noted what a rare year it is shaping up to be in New Zealand jazz. And here is further evidence -- but something very different to those mentioned. Ryan was once the songwriter/keyboardist in the...

Norman Meehan: Modigliani (Ode)

Norman Meehan: Modigliani (Ode)

Pianist/composer Meehan may well be a scholar (he teaches jazz history and composition at the New Zealand School of Music, and is working on a biography of pianist Mike Nock) but there is nothing academic in his approach here. These angular, spacious compositions can be gutsy and deep or spry and flighty, and with bassist Nick Tipping (from...

Mike Nock/Frank Gibson: Open Door (1987)

Mike Nock/Frank Gibson: Open Door (1987)

When expat pianist/composer Mike Nock and Auckland-based drummer Frank Gibson got together in '87 to record these duets both men were at interesting points in their respective but separate careers, but neither had played together much. Their sole recording together released prior to these sessions -- they had played on some Radio New Zealand...

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