Grammaphone: Grammaphone (Thoughtless)

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Grammaphone: Grammaphone (Thoughtless)

Got to say when I went to school it was a big deal just to be in a band and the thought of making a record was beyond our comprehension -- which made Nooky Stott, drummer with Larry's Rebels, something of a distant (if slightly overweight) god to us.

But times change (for the better) and these students from Auckland Grammar not only recorded, but produced a very impressive double disc in a gatefold sleeve.

It is an exceptionally confident debut and they pick one of the tougher genres too: these guys don't play alt.rock or emo as many their age but take up jazz head-on and classic material by the likes of Gershwin, Coltrane, Jobim, Herbie Hancock, Paul Desmond's Take Five (spun out to 14 minutes) and so on -- and some very interesting original arrangements.

This is courageous but with the confidence of youth it works -- and in Campbell Rehu they have a singer who is assured and seasoned beyond his years.

There is a Latin or swing drift to most of this, but when young people write a track called Mingus you know they are stepping up to be counted. The first disc is instrumental and vocal, the second all intrumental and in places (Cantaloupe Island, Green Dolphin Street) they really stretch themselves out and find their groove.
Certainly there are flaws -- the occasional rush to get the solo going when a more leisurely opening up might have been better -- but that is a minor criticism.

What is here is as fine an opening statement as you could imagine from people who still can't get into bars legally.

Here's my pick: if you are interested in New Zealand jazz you should expect to hear much more from vocalist Rehu, saxophonist Sam Weeks, pianist Robbie Muir, bassist Tom Marshall and drummer Nick Chan.

And I'd bet that people internationally will also be hearing from these guys: this much talent, innate invention and willingness to take on a challenge usually flies far, probably to Berklee.

Quite something.

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