The second gig in the CJC #jazzapril series featured a quintet led by veteran Auckland musician Phil Broadhurst. Phil is a very familiar figure on the New Zealand Jazz scene thanks to his many recordings, his broadcasting, gigs and Jazz education. He is also a finalist in New Zealand’s 2014 Jazz Tui awards and we will hear the results this coming Easter weekend. The last two years have certainly been busy for Phil. In between running the Massey University Auckland Jazz Program and hosting visits by overseas Jazz musicians he has found time to compose new material and to record several highly rated albums. I have previously reviewed his passionate tribute to the diminutive Jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani ‘Delayed Reaction’ (he’s an authority on Petrucciani’s work), and his beautifully crafted ‘Flaubert’s Dance’ (now up for the Tui).
Phil Broadhurst compositions are well constructed and seldom just head arrangements. There is always a subtler framework behind the obvious; something that invites you to look beyond the tune. The song titles and the stories that accompany them give a strong sense of place or sometimes touch upon an all but forgotten quirky interlude from the past. Phil Broadhurst is well read in several languages and it shows in his work. His compositions reference this but never in a preachy way and there is a strong sense of seeing the world through his eyes. This experiential vantage point rather than any particular idiom informs his work most. His compositions also convey ideas and at the conclusion of a piece we feel like examining them further.
The first set began with ‘Delayed Reaction’ from his Petrucciani album, followed by a number of newer tunes. I have posted a You Tube clip from the latter titled ‘Precious Metal’. It initially sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite grasp why. It is a tribute to Horace Silver and the form here is recognisably hard bop. This gives a strong impression of the famous Jazz pianist and it was that impression which sounded so tantalisingly familiar. This is what Phil Broadhurst does so well.
As is normally the case with busy musicians there had been no time to rehearse other than a twenty-minute run-through before the gig. In situations like this it is essential to have good readers and if you are lucky musicians who are familiar with your work. With Roger Manins (tenor sax), Mike Booth (trumpet, flugelhorn), Oli Holland (bass) and Cameron Sangster (drums) it was always going to go well. There is a subtle difference between bands who work well together and those who really gel. There were no high octane numbers and the mood was consistent rather than variable. This worked very much to the bands advantage and the laid-back feel gave them a chance to delve deeply into the compositions during solos. Everyone pulled out great performances and you could tell afterwards how pleased they were that the gig had gone so well. It just goes to prove that nights like this can bring about just as pleasing results as the edgier higher octane ones.
Roger Manins and Mike Booth blended perfectly and Booth has never sounded better. Their solos were thoughtful, probing and often intensely melodic. They clearly understood what Broadhurst had in mind and worked with it. Oli Holland who sings lines during his bass solos was in great form (when is he not). Having played with Manins and Broadhurst often he needed no prompting, his powerful bass lines giving just the right momentum. Phil has used several drummers in the past but he obviously likes working with Cameron Sangster who is the youngest band member. “He has subtlety and gives colour where it’s needed” said Broadhurst afterward.
#jazzapril is a about sharing the joy of Jazz and it is about celebrating the diversity of the music. Improvised music is increasingly embraced by younger audiences and those audiences and the many younger musicians performing bring exciting new sounds to the mix. Getting the mix right between the experienced and the up-and-coming is a challenge but at the CJC appears to get it right. Jazz has long been established in New Zealand and this is a time to celebrate its longevity and its diversity.
Auckland’s CJC (Creative Jazz Club) has created a Jazz Appreciation Month program with all of the above in mind. This week there is a B3 master from French New Caledonia, next week the globe-trotting genius of the keyboard Jonathan Crayford. Best of all is the long anticipated album launch of ‘Dr Dog’ on International Jazz Day. I feel lucky to live near a club that can present such wonderful artists. Grab this opportunity by the ears Kiwis, now is the perfect time to enjoy this music and above all share it with others.
Who: Phil Broadhurst Quintet – Phil Broadhurst (compositions, piano), Roger Manins (tenor sax), Mike Booth (trumpet), Oli Holland (bass), Cameron Sangster (drums).
Where: CJC (Creative Jazz Club), Britomart 1885 Building, Auckland, New Zealand, 9th April 2014