Jazz in Elsewhere

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PATTI AUSTIN INTERVIEWED (2012): Along came Jones . . . and Jacko

23 Mar 2012  |  10 min read

Patti Austin laughs frequently, sounds a world removed from her diva-like peers, makes references to Snoop Dogg and Rod Stewart, and admits her career – now more than five decades long and which has taken her from the dance charts with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to Carnegie Hall – has been rewarding for her. Less so for the music industry which struggles to... > Read more

Cry Me a River

KURT ELLING INTERVIEWED (2004): Moved by the spirit

1 Mar 2012  |  5 min read

There's a strange notion of what passes for singing these days. Blame Whitney Houston if you will, but watch any Idol show and singing seems to have been replaced by a kind of vocal calisthenics where notes are bent and twisted, tossed around with little care where they land, and stretched so that even the most simple phrase can take on an unnatural lifespan. This is singing as... > Read more

KEVIN FIELD PROFILED (2012): The vision thing . . .

20 Feb 2012  |  5 min read  |  4

Auckland jazz keyboard player Kevin Field has had a couple of major turning points in his career. One came when, at age 18, he realised he didn't want to pursue his classical piano studies to their logical conclusion, the other was more dramatic. “Headlights coming towards me, that whole thing.” In 2008, Field's car was hit by a drunk driver, his lung collapsed and he... > Read more

Ditto (featuring Nathan Haines)

Various artists: Bossa Jazz (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

16 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

The highly regarded reissue label Soul Jazz -- see here for former treats -- again delves into Brazilian sounds of the late Sixties/early Seventies for a double disc which includes famous names like Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Dom Um Romao, Sergio Mendes, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Baden Powell among others. And of course they were all young back then. Subtitled “The Birth of... > Read more


Jack DeJohnette: Sound Travels (Shock)

14 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

The great jazz drummer -- who turns 70 this year -- shows no signs of either slowing down or repeating himself, and on the evidence of his performance of Miles Davis' tribute to Jack Johnson last year, his energy levels and creativity are also undiminished. This gentle album finds him exploring Latin styles (with singer/bassist Esmeralda Spalding), working with songwriter and keyboard... > Read more


COLIN HEMMINGSEN PROFILED (2012): With his heart in both camps

25 Jan 2012  |  6 min read

In many countries, what Colin Hemmingsen has done all his life would not be considerd so unusual. But in New Zealand he has been a rarity, a musician who has had successful careers in both classical music and jazz. Hemmingsen was for many years the principal bassoonist in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra but also worked extensively playing jazz saxophone (tenor and soprano, he also plays... > Read more

Playing Defense

Campbell, Rae, Dyne: Storm in a Teacup (Rattle Jazz)

18 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

For an album which swing as much as it edges towards fluid bop, this outing by guitarist Al Campbell, drummer John Rae and bassist Paul Dyne, teases you into it with the opener, Rae's rhythmical stop-start Just Me Just Me, during which you are never quite sure where it is headed. Campbell's guitar hits a repeated figure, then bends notes while Dyne (presumably) scratches his strings before... > Read more

No Show Blues

Olivier Holland: Duets (Ode)

15 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

Perhaps because it is a challengingly naked form, there has not been a great tradition in New Zealand jazz for duet recordings. In fact the only one that immediately springs to mind is Open Door by Frank Gibson and Mike Nock, and that was released in 1987. Open Door had some small advantage in the genre in that Gibson is a drummer so the pulse, such as it might be, could be held down.... > Read more

Song for Bommel

Tim Hopkins: Seven (Rattle Jazz)

1 Dec 2011  |  2 min read

As with the Rattle album Ancient Astronaut Theory by Dave Lisik (interviewed here) and Richard Nunns, I was invited to write the liner notes for this release on Rattle's jazz imprint. I was such a fine album, how could I refuse? So here is an expanded version of what appeared in the handsome CD sleeve . . .  “Jazz and freedom go hand in hand” 
– Thelonious Monk... > Read more

All Black and Blues

Tom Dennison: Zoo (Rattle Jazz)

18 Nov 2011  |  1 min read

While it is admirable that jazz musicians put out their own albums (especially in New Zealand where the market is small), it is even more so that any start-up label -- especially in New Zealand -- would firmly get behind an art form which has an audience which redefines the word "minority". Rattle -- not a start-up label since it has been going 20 years, but only more recently... > Read more

The Secret History of Islands

Alan Brown: Between the Spaces (Ode)

8 Nov 2011  |  1 min read

New Zealand keyboard player Alan Brown -- who has previously been in Blue Train and is currently in the Grand Central Band -- is on record saying that rather than writing a jazz album he wanted all his influences, classical to electronica and rock, to find their voice with his quartet for this release. And with saxophonist Nathan Haines guesting and string players alongside guitarist Andy... > Read more



31 Oct 2011  |  4 min read

Think jazz and you invariably think the saxophone. Or trumpet. Or piano. Rarely does the acoustic bass, that pulse and often warm soul of this difficult improvised art form, come to mind. And even if it did, who could immediately conjure up the staggeringly long name of Denmark's pre-eminent practitioner? Yet the CV of Nils-Henning Orsted Pedersen lists performances alongside some... > Read more

Konitz, Mehldau, Haden, Motian: Live at Birdland (ECM/Ode)

9 Aug 2011  |  <1 min read

A 2009 ECM superstar session where Lee, Brad, Charlie and Paul played standards (Lover Man, Lullaby of Birdland, Oleo etc) from which this finely wrought, sensitive selection was drawn. Pianist Mehldau offers exquisite, refined and sometimes dissonant solos which seduce or bring astringency in the turn of phrase. Some of this is so spare as to barely be there (Lover Man), at other... > Read more

Lullaby of Birdland

The New Fuse Box: The Wakem/Nielson Project (LGW)

8 Jul 2011  |  1 min read

A little clarifying chronology here might be useful when teasing out the threads of this Auckland jazz group. As I recall their debut album The Politiks of Jazz (just credited to Fuse Box) arrived in about 2000 and the group consisted of keyboard player Lindsay Wakem (who composed eight of the 10 tracks), guitarist Frans Huysmans, drummer Jason Orme and bassist Phil Scorgie.  That was... > Read more

You Are Further and Further Away

MILES DAVIS; TUTU 25 YEARS ON: Hope you like my new direction?

13 Jun 2011  |  4 min read

Depending on when he was talking and the mood he was in, Miles Davis would claim to have changed the direction of music three – or four – times. No one would doubt the impact of Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew – which might make the “three”. But the fourth? Although it didn't change the course of music as he might have wanted to... > Read more

Miles Davis: Splatch

Mathias Eick: Skala (ECM/Ode)

23 May 2011  |  1 min read

As mentioned in a review of one his earlier albums, The Door (here), Norwegian trumpeter Eick has an inclusive approach to his art and has played in many different contexts, from big bands to psychedelic rock groups and in small, introverted jazz outfits. This time out he gets in two drummers (very discreet, you'd hardly know it), electric bass and piano (and guests on sax, harp and... > Read more

Matthias Eick: June

SONNY ROLLINS INTERVIEWED (2011): The old lion still prowling

16 May 2011  |  6 min read

Gary Giddins, the authoritative US jazz critic, said of tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins that he was “one of the last immort­als, the most powerful presence in jazz today. He is its most cunning, surprising and unpredictable improviser – the one musician whose infrequent concert appearances foster intense anticipation and heated postmortems.” Giddins wrote that in 1996.... > Read more

Various Artists: Chris Barber; Memories from My Trip (Proper)

16 May 2011  |  1 min read

People like the great British bandleader/singer/trombonist and bassist Chris Barber were all but washed away when the British blues explosion and the Beatles/Stones et al came along in the early Sixties. As one associated with British jazz and blues, Barber -- by then terminally old because he was in his early 30s -- just seemed like a man from another era. And he was: Lonnie Donegan's big... > Read more

Chris Barber and Rory Gallagher: Can't be Satisfied

Dave Lisik: The Curse of the Queen's Diamond (Rattle Jazz)

2 May 2011  |  1 min read  |  2

Yet another fine addition to the Rattle Jazz imprint, this beautifully packaged album by Canadian-born, New Zealand-based trumpeter Lisik (and others) explores that profitable margin between chamber jazz and classical music. And in that he has unimpeachable assistance; Amy Rempel is on piano and her improvisations are at the heart here, bass clarinettist Colin Hemmingsen has always played... > Read more

Dave Lisik: Mercy

TAL FARLOW (1921- 1998): Fading, like notes in the breeze

21 Apr 2011  |  2 min read

It is a very curious thing that as pop and rock music -- which never used to argue for longevity -- are constantly excavating their pasts and delivering collections of their most minor or ephemeral talents, that jazz --- which Leonard Feather famously called "the classical music of the 20th century" -- is letting many of finest practitioners fade from memory. Guitarist Tal Farlow... > Read more

Tal Farlow Trio: Yesterdays