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Dark Light, from Dark Light (2014)

New Zealand pianist/composer is among this country’s most consistently impressive jazz artists – his most recent album East West Moon is a finalist in the album of the year at this year’s jazz awards – but he has just announced a series of concerts which are something rather different.

For some shows with drummer Ross Burge (as Spanner) he straps on electric bass for an implosion of punk, grunge, jazz and free playing. And each week when they play at Auckland’s Golden Dawn (see dates below) they will be joined by a special guests such as Julia Deans, SJD, Lucien Johnson, Neil Watson and Jeff Henderson.

Also in May he gets back on keyboards plays at Grey Lynn’s Freida Margolis bar in an electric trio Meteor with Marika Hodgson on bass and Chris O’Connore on drums.

In June he does two shows on piano in Wellington and then in July both Meteor and Spanner will play the Wine Cellar in Auckland.

He is a very busy man. And Elsewhere has mentioned his music a number of times in the past.

But oddly enough he has never answered our Famous Elsewhere Jazz Questionnaire. Until now that is . . .

The first piece of music, jazz or otherwise, which really affected you was . . ?

Adagio from Mahler’s 5th – This I first encountered in the film ‘Death In Venice’ and was most mystified by the harp in the opening – it seemed to come from some depth of feeling I couldn’t fathom. As I later read about Mahler, I learned something relating to this feeling I had as a child – that pain can come from a beautiful place.

eaac67c2_b7a9_44b6_97ef_f5061ae02bebWhen did you first realise this jazz thing was for you?

Music is a thing – I realised that at a very early age

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'?


Time travel allows you go back to experience great jazz. You would go to . . ?

To the time of Bach

Which period of Miles Davis' career do you most relate to, and why: the acoustic Fifties; his orchestrated albums with Gil Evans; the acoustic bands, the fusion of the late Sixties; street funk of the Seventies or the Tutu album and beyond in the Eighties . . .

All – All because the changes in era’s and styles marks what a truly deep thinker and composer Miles actually was. This has informed my listening to everything and I have also learned that I learn a lot more from stuff I don’t like than that which I do.

Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?

My house is full of instruments – I recently wrote the score for the feature film ‘Pork Pie’ which I recorded at the studio in my house – which is also my kitchen. As I laid various tracks I looked about for ways to make interesting percussion and saw a Vietnamese water pot (for steaming) I had recently bought but not yet used. I filled it with water and Chris O’Connor played it into the track ‘Bongo’ – a sort of Celtic Southern NZ theme which accompanies the main characters arrival into NZ’s Southland. I have dozens of odd stuff like that.

6bfc6e68_6da2_4cee_a3a1_7e76fcdd322fThe best book on the jazz life you have read is . . .

Beneath The Underdog - Mingus

If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)

Ben Street, Dan Weiss – my current acoustic trio in NY

Fima Ephron, Daniel Freeman – my current electric trio in NY

Chris O’Connor, Marika Hodgson – my current electric trio (Meteor) in NZ

Ross Burge – my current duo (Spanner) in NZ

The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .

Hidden Fortress – Kurosawa

White Hunter Black Heart – Eastwood

Utu – Murphy

Blowing It – Bruno Lawrence (yet to be made)

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)

Tijuana Moods - Mingus

One jazz standard you wished you had written . . .

I don’t wish I had written any of them. I’m happy with the music I have written and /or am writing – not happy ‘happy’ but happy with my own problems to overcome. It doesn’t mean I like everything that I write – but I’m not trying to ‘be’ or write like anything/anyone anymore as I was when I was younger. If you had asked me the same question years ago I would have probably said So What – because it is so so so simple and deeply profound.

The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .

Well – I like all the posters Fane Flaws has made for my projects and there are many (Meteor, Spanner, Solo Piano, Biggish Band etc). I also very much like the painting by Japanese painter Koyama, who resides in Spain of ‘San Baldiri’ a small church that I know in that country. The painting is on my wall.

East_West_Moon_573bae773f466Three non-jazz albums for a desert island would be . . ?

Goldberg Variations – Gould

7th Symphony – Beethoven

Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band - Beatles

Your dream band of musicians (living or dead) would be . . ?

The current ones I am in

And finally, is there a track on one of your recent albums you would love people to hear. And, if so, why that one?

Dark Light – Dark Light

Jonathan Crayford Forthcoming Shows

Wed May 3rd - Spanner Live at Golden Dawn, Auckland - 8PM FREE
Wed May 10th - Spanner Live at Golden Dawn, Auckland - 8PM FREE
Sat May 13th – Meteor Live at Freida Margolis, Auckland
Wed May 17th - Spanner Live at Golden Dawn, Auckland - 8PM FREE
Wed May 24th - Spanner Live at Golden Dawn, Auckland - 8PM FREE
Wed May 31st - Spanner Live at Golden Dawn, Auckland - 8PM FREE
Thurs June 8th – Jonathan Crayford Solo Piano Concert – Suite Gallery, Wellington - 8PM
Fri June 9th - Jonathan Crayford Solo Piano Concert – Suite Gallery, Wellington - 8PM
Thurs July 6th – Spanner & Meteor Live at The Wine Cellar, Auckland – 8PM

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