whirimako black

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Russel Walder: Rise (Nomad Soul/Ode)

Russel Walder: Rise (Nomad Soul/Ode)

Walder was the producer/arranger and oboe player on Whirimako Black's exceptional Kura Huna album of two years ago, and if there had been any justice it would have appeared in "best of the year" lists. My guess was too few critics heard it, some were put off by Black singing in te reo (the Maori language), and even fewer...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Moana and the Tribe: Wha (Black Pearl/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Moana and the Tribe: Wha (Black Pearl/Ode)

Across her previous three albums Moana Maniapoto confirmed her status as one of New Zealand's most significant voices whose sound could just as comfortably incorporate politics and culture as seduce with her flowing lyrics in te reo and her astute ear for using the traditional within a contemporary context. This album might lack the...

Ruia: 12.24 Tekau ma rua, rua tekau ma wha (Tangata)

Ruia: 12.24 Tekau ma rua, rua tekau ma wha (Tangata)

I had thought the excellent Tangata label was defunct, but this beautifully packaged album suggests otherwise -- and the soulful reggae-flavoured music by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Hareruia "Ruia" Abraham should ensure the label prospers on the back of this warm and engaging collection. Ruia (who has previously...

Salmonella Dub with the NZSO: Feel the Seasons Change (Virgin)

Salmonella Dub with the NZSO: Feel the Seasons Change (Virgin)

To be honest, I have always been vaguely suspicious of the rock-meets-orchestra thing. For a kick-off I wonder who such events/albums are made for. But then again I had Deep Purple's terrible Concerto for Group and Orchestra as a formative experience and have since listened to various orchestras attack rock songs, and have found very little...

Nigel Gavin: A Job with the Circus (DVD by Costa Botes)

Nigel Gavin: A Job with the Circus (DVD by Costa Botes)

When I wrote the liner notes for Nigel Gavin's excellent Visitation album from late 06 I described him as "a musician without portfolio, a guitarist/composer whose work comfortably commands many different styles". Confirming that assessment were the list of people/bands he had worked with to that point: the Nairobi Trio, the Jews...

1 GIANT LEAP'S DUNCAN BRIDGEMAN INTERVIEWED (2008): Into the great wide open

1 GIANT LEAP'S DUNCAN BRIDGEMAN INTERVIEWED (2008): Into the great wide open

A few drinks and late afternoon pre-dinner nibbles in an Auckland bar with London-based, world music-inclusive musician Duncan Bridgeman of 1 Giant Leap means a free ranging conversation: American politics; how the Western world unforgivably medicates its young (especially teenage boys); Maori moko; 70s prog-rock (he likes the voice of Yes...

WAI INTERVIEWED (2000): One hundred percent te reo to the future

WAI INTERVIEWED (2000): One hundred percent te reo to the future

Maaka McGregor has had a good day. In Auckland for a week from his home in Titahi Bay and talking up the Wai 100% album he has recorded with his partner Wai (aka Mina) Ripia, he's just come from Mai FM. His pitch met with a positive, if unpublishably enthusiastic, response from programme director Manu Taylor. A good day. McGregor is...

TRINITY ROOTS REMEMBERED (2005): Spirit in the dark, and light

TRINITY ROOTS REMEMBERED (2005): Spirit in the dark, and light

What set Trinity Roots (1998-2005) apart for me was their musical subtlety, the nuanced way they moved from what we might call roots folk and reggae through elements of waiata, jazz and pop to create something which was at times indefinably about this country right now, yet also possessed a timelessness, as if it could have been written and sung...

DALVANIUS PRIME REMEMBERED (2002): from little things, big things grow

DALVANIUS PRIME REMEMBERED (2002): from little things, big things grow

It's a fair if not entirely original observation that the late Dalvanius Prime made an immediate impression. I'll never forget the day we shook hands in Patea. The big man was, typically, wearing his body-hugging pink tracksuit. Back at his modest, almost alarmingly small home he showed me his memorabilia and treasures, and was...

Wai: Ora (Wai/Jayrem)

Wai: Ora (Wai/Jayrem)

When the debut album, 100%, by Maaka McGregor and Mina Ripia (aka Wai) was released in 2000 (see here) it was hailed as a ground-breaking event for its deft blend of te reo (Maori language) and electronica. Yet in many ways the musical landscape had been laid by the likes of Dalvanius with Patea Maori, and then Moana who had also sung in te...

DEAN HAPETA'S 2002 UPPER HUTT POSSE REMIXES: Say The Word, and you'll be freed

DEAN HAPETA'S 2002 UPPER HUTT POSSE REMIXES: Say The Word, and you'll be freed

Dean Hapeta was the mainman in the Upper Hutt Posse (which also included singer-songwriter Emma Paki), the group which recorded the first New Zealand rap single E Tu in 1988. It was a powerful (if thin-sounding) statement of Maori anger and unashamedly used te reo (the Maori language) to strident effect. See lyrics below. Hapeta - as Te...

Upper Hutt Posse: Tohe (Kia Kaha)

Upper Hutt Posse: Tohe (Kia Kaha)

For quite a while it seemed that the seminal Aotearoa/New Zealand hip-hop outfit Upper Hutt Posse might have been reduced down to Dean Hapeta, who was actually appearing under the name Te Kupu (aka The Word). But here, on an album which kicks along on the back of staccato, minimalist dubstep beats and huge reggae style bass, the Posse are...

TrinityRoots: Music is Choice (Rhythmethod CD/DVD)

TrinityRoots: Music is Choice (Rhythmethod CD/DVD)

There was good news for Flight of the Conchords fans this week: Jemaine Clement confirmed, yet again, there wouldn't be another series. Strange as that sounds, some things are so perfectly formed they are best left alone: Fawlty Towers and the English version of The Office . . . or the never-ending Lost and drearily drawn out V?...

Eru Dangerspiel: Great News for Modern Man (Loop)

Eru Dangerspiel: Great News for Modern Man (Loop)

The Eru Dangerspiel rock'n'rolling caravan of soul, funk, reggae and more is helmed by Riki Gooch, formerly of TrinityRoots and here, recorded live at the Auckland Town Hall in August '09, the whole huge ensemble invited you to "leave your shit at the door" and get down with their good time grooves. With an extraordinary line-up of...

Emma Paki: Trinity (Heartmusic)

Emma Paki: Trinity (Heartmusic)

It has been an astonishing decade and a half (and a bit) since Emma Paki's remarkable System Virtue, Greenstone and her debut album Oxygen of Love. And since then mostly silence on the recording front. And she's in no hurry to rush back, this EP is just three songs in acoustic versions (two produced by Bic Runga), then mixed and remixed by...

Various Artists: Ihimaera (Universal)

Various Artists: Ihimaera (Universal)

Following the successful projects setting the poems of New Zealand writers James K Baxter and Hone Tuwhare to music comes this, the words of writer Witi Ihimaera getting musical adaptation by the likes of Warren Maxwell (of Trinity Roots), LA Mitchell, King Kapisi, Teremoana Rapley, Charlotte Yates (prime mover behind these projects) and others....

Miss Black and the Light: Black Light (Ode)

Miss Black and the Light: Black Light (Ode)

It seems a shame the reggae-driven grooves are pushed right to the front end of this otherwise interesting album because that sound has become, as previously noted at Elsewhere, such a default position for so many New Zealand artists. Miss Black (Ngapata Black, daughter of the great Whirimako Black) finds a real point of diference when...

Whirimako Black: Soul Sessions (Mai)

Whirimako Black: Soul Sessions (Mai)

Black's two previous te reo album - Tangihanu (2004) and Te Kura Huna (2005) - were compellingly beautiful and weaved between soul balladry and slightly esoteric jazz, but never lost sight of the spirituality which drove them.   Black's voice is a thing of great sensitivity, and those albums should have made her a household name....

Apanui: Matariki (Frequency)

Apanui: Matariki (Frequency)

Ngahiwi Apanui, formerly of the seminal reggae band Aotearoa, was in the vanguard of the use of taonga puoro (traditional instruments) with his autobiographical solo album Te hono ke te Kainga/The Link with the Homeland in '89 which also brought in reggae and folk. A staunch advocate of te reo and cultural pride, he opens this album with...

RICHARD NUNNS INTERVIEWED (2003): The questions are blowing in the wind

RICHARD NUNNS INTERVIEWED (2003): The questions are blowing in the wind

The late Hirini Melbourne, who died of cancer in January '03 aged 53, opened a window on the past which has allowed others to see a future. Through his work with fellow musicologist Richard Nunns, Melbourne -- of Tuhoe and Ngati Kahungunu descent -- brought traditional Maori instruments back into the spotlight through performance, teaching...

Whirimako Black: The Late Night Plays (Ode)

Whirimako Black: The Late Night Plays (Ode)

Five years ago Whirimako Black received the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to Maori music. Yet for some reason – because her albums have been in Maori perhaps? – she has rarely captured mainstream attention. Her decade-long recording career began with immediate acclaim (her debut Hine Pukohurangi won best...

Nigel Gavin: Visitation (Thrum/Rhythmethod)

Nigel Gavin: Visitation (Thrum/Rhythmethod)

Guitarist Gavin is probably well known to more people than they realise: he has played with the Nairobi Trio, the Jews Brothers, created the guitar orchestra Gitbox Rebellion, and has been on albums by Wayne Gillespie, Ross Mullins and Whirimako Black. But it has always been his own albums -- limited edition and so under the radar for most...

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