Trudy Lile is well-known around the New Zealand music scene as her multi genre flute playing skills take her into a number of diverse musical worlds.
On Wednesday she brought her new Jazz Quintet to the CJC . The lineup was: Trudy Lile (flute, vocals, leader), Kevin Field (piano), Andrea Groenewald (guitar, vocals), Jo Shum (bass) and Steve Harvey (drums). Many will already be familiar with her Latin/Jazz ‘Mojave’ Quartet. The only carry over from Mojave’s line up is the brilliant Auckland pianist Kevin Field. On the ‘Mojave’ ‘Well Dressed Standards‘ CD Trudy sings in addition to her flute work and her voice is well suited to the material she has chosen. Not surprisingly her flute work and singing are slightly more restrained on CD; but when she is playing in a Jazz club there is no hold back.
At the CJC Trudy’s band loosened up as Jazz audiences are used to a freer and more improvisational approach. As the evening progressed we were treated to snatches of overblown flute (often with vocal effects in the style of Sam Most or Rashaan Roland Kirk). The range of flute sounds evoked could shift from smooth-as-silk melodic lower register offerings to peppery high-end declamations that fired up the band. It was obvious that she liked the material she was presenting and that enthusiasm communicated well to the audience.
Unlike Trudy’s recent album (which is all standards), the set list on this night was mainly originals; mixed in with tunes like Herbie Hancock’s ‘Butterfly‘ and ‘Precious‘ by Esperanza Spalding. On those two numbers and others she and Andrea sang in duet and the contrast between their voices gave added colour. The material was beautifully executed and the band worked extremely well together.
Having pianist Kevin Field in a band is always a good thing and especially so where there is a singer to be accompanied. Kevin is not only a trio leader and innovator but he has that rare skill of being the perfect accompanist. Like Laurence Hobgood or Oscar Peterson he can place just the right notes and chords behind a singer while keeping out-of-the-way until his solo. I always enjoy seeing Andrea Groenewald perform and she sung and played well on this night. Her own tune ‘Paint the Sky‘ turned into a tour de force for the band and her guitar solo was a knock out. I have seen this performed a number of times and it keeps getting better, with Trudy’s flute adding new and interesting dimensions. Jo Shum was obviously enjoying herself as well and she and drummer Steve Harvey took some nice solos. Jo Shum (bass) was especially good on ‘Precious‘ (Esperanza Spalding) and the drum work on ‘Beverly ‘(Lile) impressed.
The flute is a relative late comer to Jazz – probably entering the music’s mainstream via its contacts with Latin American music. Frank Wess was one of the earlier practitioners of Jazz flute but names like Buddy Collette, Bud Shank, Sam Most, Rashaan Roland Kirk, Jerome Richardson, Eric Dolphy, James Spaulding and Charles Lloyd have established it firmly in the mainstream. While many of the above were flute specialists they were mostly saxophone players doubling on flute. Many modern practitioners do not double on reeds as the flute is their main axe.
This was a night when the gender diversity and musical diversity of the Auckland Jazz scene was manifest. The Auckland Jazz scene is growing rapidly and as it grows it brings with it maturity that comes from having real choice.