This lovely album by Allana Goldsmith and Mark Baynes is timely because it arrives at a crucial historical juncture. For a long time after the period of colonisation the beautiful indigenous language, Te Reo Maori, was suppressed in Aotearoa/New Zealand. After determined efforts by indigenous speakers, the decline was reversed, but there is a long way to go. Albums like this are indications of a gathering momentum.
‘E Rere Rā’ has been well received by Jazz audiences (and beyond). It has received critical acclaim offshore. It is a Te Rao Maori journey which takes its place alongside genres as diverse as opera, hip hop and pop. It is a joy to see this flowering of our indigenous language. Te Reo Jazz vocals were earlier brought to audiences by Whirimako Black, who recorded Jazz Standards and performed at festivals. Goldsmith has also been a pioneer in this field, performing Te Reo Jazz for a number of years, writing many of her own lyrics in Te Reo and composing tunes as vehicles.
Goldsmith’s association with the respected broadcaster, educator, and Jazz pianist, Dr Mark Baynes goes back a number of years and the collaboration has been fruitful. They appeared about town in the clubs and bars and toured further afield. They recently appeared at the Wellington Jazz Festival. Baynes is constantly widening his repertoire and he’s a pianist willing to take on new challenges. The last time I saw him was with a Latin ensemble where he delivered compelling solos while effortlessly navigating the complex rhythms.
The album is stylistically broad, with a generous nod to soul and funk. It evokes the vibe of singing late into the night; gathering friends and family close. Such events are a timeless Aotearoa tradition; evoking warmth and sometimes sadness. It is especially so with ‘Tipuna’ (grandparents and ancestors) and with the heartfelt ballad ‘Whakaari’ (a volcanic island off the North Island/Te Ika-a-Maui coast). The lament ‘Whakaari’ references the terrible eruption of the Whakaari Island volcano. When it erupted, many lives were lost or blighted. It is a sacred place for Maori, but a place with layers of sadness. This ballad captures that perfectly.
Allan Goldsmith (co-leader, vocals compositions/arrangements) Mark Baynes co-leader, keyboards, compositions/arrangements) Hikurangi-Schaverien-Kaa (drums), Riki Bennett (Taonga Puora), Dennson, Alex Griffith (5) & Will Goodinson (2) (bass), Kim Paterson (trumpet, flugel) (3,10), Cam Allen (saxophones) (5), Mike Booth (trumpet, horn arrangement (5), Jono Tan (trombone) (5) and Michael Howell (guitar) (4,8). The album can be purchased from music outlets, Bandcamp or accessed via streaming platforms. Please support local music and especially music that tells our unique stories.
JazzLocal32.com is rated as one of the 50 best Jazz Blogs in the world by Feedspot. The author is a professional member of the Jazz Journalists Association, a Judge in the 7VJC International Jazz Competition, and a poet & writer. Some of these posts appear on other sites with the author’s permission.