Jazz in Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

THE JAZZ CONUNDRUM (2023): At the interface of styles

12 Mar 2023  |  3 min read

Programmers and promoters of jazz know the problem: it's “jazz”. The word defies convenient definition: for some it's swinging entertainment, for others an intellectual art demanding studious consideration. Jazz is also a minority music, so festival organisers frequently schedule pop and rock bands on their programme, particularly those appealing to an older demographic.... > Read more

THE FOX REPORT (2023): Crazy like a Rodger

11 Mar 2023  |  1 min read  |  1

Few New Zealand musicians have pursued their career with more tenacity than trombonist, composer and teacher Rodger Fox who celebrates half a century as a professional musician. Fox has lead his Rodger Fox Big Band, a training ground for talent, for more than four decades. A few years ago a concert audience in Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre was asked how many had passed through the band's... > Read more

Bloom/Helias/Previte: 2.3.23 (digital outlets)

5 Mar 2023  |  1 min read

Saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom and bassist Mark Helias have been on something of a roll lately with their 2021 album Some Kind of Tomorrow (one of that year's best at Elsewhere). Elsewhere singled out her duet of the same year Tues Days with drummer Allison Miller and also the earlier Wild Lines with Helias, pianist Dawn Clement and drummer Bobby Previte where they improvised on poems... > Read more


Mark Lockett: Swings and Roundabouts (Thick Records/digital outlets)

30 Jan 2023  |  1 min read

As someone who has listened to the great Ornette Coleman for decades but heard very little of his influence in jazz in the Eighties and Nineties, it's pleasing that in the 21st century there seems to have seen a real interest. Today his shapeshifting and bouncing melodic lines from the late Fifties/early Sixties seem to be as much an influence – possibly even more so – than... > Read more


Ezra Collective: Where I'm Meant to Be (digital outlets)

4 Dec 2022  |  1 min read

Much current London jazz revolves around prime-mover/saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and his bands The Comet is Coming, The Ancestors and Sons of Kemet. And fellow travellers like the all-women NĂ©rija which includes spellbinding guitarist Shirley Tetteh and saxophonist Nubya Garcia (whose 2020 solo album Source is exceptional). This music pulls from classic Sixties jazz but hauls in... > Read more

Justin Purtill, Leo Genovese, Sean Conly: Simple Twist (577/digital outlets)

5 Nov 2022  |  <1 min read

This is an unexpected alt.folk-cum-jazz album from New York's edgy 577 Records which most often delivers challenging and/or beautiful free jazz. Singer/guitarist Purtill is joined by pianist Genovese and bassist Conly for his aching socio-political Sweet Liberty, Dylan's Simple Twist of Fate and Mississippi John Hurt's Spike Driver's Blues, among other pieces distinguished by his weathered... > Read more

Spike Driver's Blues

The Comet is Coming: Hyper-Dimensional Expansion (Impulse!/digital outlets)

10 Oct 2022  |  1 min read

Of all the British outfits in the new wave of jazz-meets-grime/Afro-futurism/hip-hop/rock/whathaveyou, The Comet is Coming generated the most excitement. Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings was very much a mover and shaper of the London jazz scene and when alongside drummer Betamax and synth player Danalogue some real magic happened. That said, and although Elsewhere was enthusiastic about... > Read more

Rodger Fox Big Band: Plays Tuwhare (digital outlets)

2 Oct 2022  |  <1 min read

After half a century, trombonist and band leader Rodger Fox still manages to be creative and inventive in his constant refreshing of his band's catalogue. Earlier this year they explored the music of Dave Dobbyn and here the great poet Hone Tuwhare's work – born 100 years ago – is the inspiration for 10 pieces. Those unfamiliar with Tuwhare's work – this writer has only... > Read more

Miles Davis (written by Rodger Fox)

Edward Ware: Taking Shostakovich Out (bandcamp)

15 Sep 2022  |  1 min read

The seemingly provocative title on this album isn't some retro-revisionism from within the damaged Politburo. Rather it is New York/Barcelona-based ex-pat drummer/conceptualist Edward Ware – with soprano sax player Chris Kelsey – taking various fugues by the great Russian composer into that out-there world of jazz improv-cum-exploration. And also out of the context of his... > Read more

DAVE MEET RODGER, RODGER MEET DAVE (2022): Here for big band Bliss and beyond

5 Aug 2022  |  2 min read

Dave Dobbyn was an excellent case study for my university singer-songwriter students, an artist who illustrated how they could shift between genres, lyrical approaches and song arrangements . . . and yet still sound like themselves. In his first decade Dobbyn went from the booze-bar rock of Bliss through metaphorically interesting songs like Whaling and Outlook For Thursday and along the... > Read more

Darren Pickering Small Worlds: Volume One (Rattle/digital outlets)

1 Aug 2022  |  <1 min read

The name of this group lead by Christchurch pianist Darren Pickering is accurate because here are sometimes small worlds of quiet, intimately detailed pieces for quartet (guitarist Mitch Dwyer, bassist Peter Fleming and drummer Mitch Thomas) which open with the very inviting and understated Simple Ballad. It's an elegance revisited later on In the Know(ere) and the length, exploratory Ixtapa... > Read more

Strange Tone Poem

CHARLES LLOYD, CONSIDERED (2022): The 21st century man

31 Jul 2022  |  2 min read

As the Sixties ended, tenor saxophonist and flautist Charles Lloyd should have been a happy man: his 1967 album Forest Flower – recorded live at the Monterey Jazz Festival the previous year – had sold exceptionally well. His quartet had brought bassist Cecil McBee, the young pianist Keith Jarrett and drummer Jack DeJohnette to wide attention. They'd toured Europe and Russia to... > Read more

Endeavour Jazz Orchestra New Zealand: Solipsis, The Music of Ryan Brake (bandcamp)

25 Jul 2022  |  1 min read

Although this country has had a lineage of big bands and a few jazz orchestras, the economies of touring and recording have meant our albums have mostly been of smaller groups. This one in the age of digital releases however – recorded by Dave Lisik at the NZ School of Music at Victoria University in Wellington – is a no-holds-barred, widescreen blockbuster with a large ensemble... > Read more

Triplets: The Triplets Book (iii/bandcamp)

4 Jul 2022  |  <1 min read

Another installment in the on-going release of live recordings by the busy saxophonist Jeff Henderson of Auckland who appears as a soloist but also within small ensembles (where it seems only the names change to protect the innocent, or guilty). So here is Triplets: Henderson on various saxophones, bassist Eamon Edmundsen-Wells and drummer Joseph McCallum. Recorded live at the Audio... > Read more

New Folk

Charles Mingus: The Lost Album from Ronnie Scott's (Resonance/digital outlets)

3 Jun 2022  |  2 min read

When the great bassist/composer Charles Mingus performed at Ronnie Scott's club in London in 1972, his career was in limbo. He was hugely respected but his studio sessions had dried up after the mid-Sixties and such albums as there were, were all live recordings. Okay, jazz is a live idiom, but it also says something of the struggle he was going through at the time: respected but not... > Read more


16 May 2022  |  3 min read

The cliche has become so embedded that hardly anyone questions it: “indie label good, major label bad”. As with most generalisations it doesn’t stand much scrutiny: small indie labels may be more comfortable for musicians because they know the boss, but they can also be woefully amateurish, financially incompetent and unable to get the music to the audience which deserves... > Read more

One And One

Vein: Our Roots (bandcamp)

28 Mar 2022  |  <1 min read

Here's something for those who enjoy that music which falls between classical and jazz as this Swiss trio of pianist Michael Arbenz, his brother/drummer Florian Arbenz and bassist Thomas Lahs brings improvisation to their influences from European chamber music. And punch in This Is Beat-O-Vein which spins off from Beethoven's 5thSymphony. Many decades ago the pianist Jacques Loussier... > Read more

Tomasz Dabrowski and The Individual Beings (April/digital outlets)

28 Feb 2022  |  <1 min read

Albums by the late Polish trumpeter/composer Tomasz Stanko have long been among Elsewhere's favourite jazz releases (we interviewed him in 2009 also), as have been albums by his group, Marcin Wasilewski Trio. That trio paid tribute to Stanko on their recent En Attendant album and now this trumpeter (also Polish and who was lent one of Stanko's trumpets for this project by the family) also... > Read more

Spurs of Luck

Wabjie: Lull (bandcamp)

28 Feb 2022  |  1 min read

Prompted by Elsewhere's recent article about the Meredith Monk album Dolmen Music, a Swiss jazz-cum-elsewhere trio asked if we might be interested in their work. They go by the name Wabjie -- pronounced Wab-Gee – which apparently is the name of those herbs and mosses which grow through pavement and wall cracks. And that seem appropriate given they too slip between the cracks.... > Read more

Cooper-Moore/Gauci: Conversations Vol. 2 (577 Records/bandcamp)

7 Feb 2022  |  <1 min read

Two years ago we pointed listeners in the direction of the first volume of these aural Conversations between New York pianist Cooper-Moore and tenor player Stephen Gauci. Of the six improvisations on that first volume we said, “if you were to impose a vague concept on this you could hear these pieces charting a dawn to late evening course as the final, slower bluesy improvisation... > Read more

Improvisation Eight