Graham Reid | | 3 min read
Multi-instrumentalist John Bell (vibes, horns, noises) has been at the cutting edge of New Zealand improvised music for many years. His name is on releases by CL Bob, the Spirals album with his own trio, various albums which take a new look at the possibilities of brass bands (which he grew up in and he revisits with the Spoilers of Utopia album on the iiii label out of Wellington) and latterly in improvised music influenced by South Korea where he currently lives, works and teaches.
His website here (in English and Korean) offers a glimpse of his breadth -- with video clips and sample tracks -- and if you check on bandcamp here you will be amazed by the diversity of music he has composed and played in the past few years.
So even though he is currently absent from our shores, with that back-catalogue and the Spoilers of Utopia album, it is always going to be timely to have him answer our questionnaire . . . and as you can see, they are very interesting and different answers.
The first piece of music, jazz or otherwise, which really affected you was . . ?
A Monk composition called Abide with Me.
When did you first realise this jazz thing was for you?
After hearing my Dad play with the Manawatu Big Band
What one piece of music would you play to a 15-year old into rock music to show them, 'This is jazz, and this is how it works'?
Maybe something that would bore them like ‘Waltz for Debby’ by Bill Evans” ( I don’t like teenagers.)
Time travel allows you go back to experience great jazz. You would go to . . ?
The Ganelin Trio in East Germany
Which period of Miles Davis' career do you most relate to, and why: the acoustic Fifties; his orchestrated albums with Gil Evans; the fusion of the late Sixties; street funk of the Seventies or the Tutu album and beyond in the Eighties . . .
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
A few old posters for self-promoted gigs, great artworks by Gerard Crewdson, collages etc by my mates
The best book on the jazz life you have read is . . .
I've really gone off books that refer to the drug, women, pimp mystique of jazz nonsense. Norman Meehan’s biography of Mike Nock is interesting if you are an unsexy country bumpkin like me.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . (And you would play?)
I’ve missed playing with Paul Winstanley recently. I'd play improvised music on the vibes with Paul on his bass
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
3 youtube clips I guess
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
‘Homura’ (Alfred Harth, Sun Bae Choi and Yoriyuki Harada)
One jazz standard you wished you had written . . .
Did Paul Desmond retire on earnings from Take Five?
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
A Francis Bacon (maybe a bit scary in the bedroom)..so perhaps a Jackson Pollock or a Turner would be nice right around the bedroom,..yep..good idea.
Three non-jazz albums for a desert island would be . . ?
Schoenberg concerto for piano
Maybe some ancient west African music for a bit of relief from that western stuff
Your dream band of musicians (living or dead) would be . .
At the moment its just a duo with my niece in law (who plays the kayagam) we are too poor to get new strings for it, so the band remains a dream!
And finally, is there a track on your most recent album you would love people to hear.
And, if so, why that one?
O boundless Salvation (an old Hymn by J Ellis/ W Booth- founder of the Salvation army).
Chris O Connor plays beautifully as usual.
For more answers to the Elsewhere Jazz Questionnaire go here.
And for more jazz at Elsewhere including interviews, album reviews and overviews go here.