John Key's Jazz Monsters: Dune Dancing (OddMusic30/digital outlets)

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John Key's Jazz Monsters: Dune Dancing (OddMusic30/digital outlets)
No doubt Auckland keyboard player/composer John Key was delighted when a former prime minister abdicated in favour of golf, travel and commentary from the sidelines.

Imagine ringing for a gig and saying, “Hi, this is John Key . . . “

Key's small group Strange Fruit has established a sound reputation over the past couple of decades (and three albums by my count) and there was trio album Back and Forth about four years ago.

However this album with a larger ensemble is not only more musically ambitious but has an interesting concept of evocations of travel to exotic, often sandy, places be they deserts or tropical beaches.

With some longtime fellow travellers – bassist Mat Fieldes, sax/flute player Steve Sherriff, trumpeter Mike Booth – alongside Finn Scholes (trumpet, vibes) and drummer Malcolm Taylor, these 10 originals have real emotional and musical colour, open but considered arrangements, and the players clearly enjoy the opportunities for differing dynamics and the weave of instrumentation.

Not everything here is as humid or escapist as the flighty title track or the beautifully laidback Moana Sands Sunset: Art Fraud takes place in a blues-kissed clubland setting; there's a edge of menace in Night Kitchen from Fieldes' bass; Party Piece heads south of the border; Shuffling Sideways lives up to its title as a sassy blue-swinger; Swampy Marsh is an up-stepping and joyous trip to the New Orleans of Professor Longhair . . .

This is the best album under Key's name yet.

So if he rings, take the call.

.

You can hear this album on Spotify here.



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