Drummer led bands have never been commonplace and drummer led trio’s even less so. Just because the leader is a drummer does not mean any more or less than it would if the leader was a bass player or a saxophonist. A leader is there to impart a creative vision and this trio rose to the task.
On Wednesday the 4th of July the Rattle Records/ ‘Sneaking Out After Midnight’ launch tour arrived at the CJC in Auckland. The prior and subsequent tweets or Facebook posts have pointed to the success of the gigs, which have been well received throughout New Zealand. To read my earlier review see below ‘Mark Lockett – Sneaking Out After Midnight’ from this blog site.
The band that toured New Zealand may not have featured New Yorker’s, Joel Frahm (sax) or Orlando Le Fleming (bass) but we did extremely well with their replacements. Mark had wryly commented that the former were unable to tour ‘for tax reasons’. The Australian Alex Boneham replaced Orlando Le Fleming and his work is already well-known to the Auckland Jazz community. Alex has previously toured here with the Steve Barry trio and I doubt that any of us will ever forget the telepathic interplay between Steve Barry (piano), Alex Boneham (bass) and Tim Firth (drums). This is an in-demand bass player who recently won the ‘Best young Australian musician of the year award’. He is both attentive and inventive and what you get is skillful interplay and adventurous improvisation.
The third trio member was Australian alto player Julian Wilson, who has worked with Mark Lockett for many years. He acquitted himself well.
What particularly struck me was just how musical Mark’s drumming was and when he and Alex fell into lockstep it was riveting. To purchase copy of ‘Sneaking Out After Midnight’ contact Rattle Records Ltd (link).
I have streamed one track from the album titled ‘Mr Pickles’. Mr Pickles is the story of Mark Lockett’s cat and an unfortunate neighbour – a hapless man who thought that he could outsmart a cat. Being a great respecter of cats and their place in the Jazz story I could not help but include this. This is as good a cat story as you will hear.
I love Jazz big bands and couldn’t have been more pleased when Roger engaged the AJO to play on awards night. It is more than possible that I had dropped a hint. Nothing underscores an occasion like a Jazz orchestra and having a 17 piece band in an intimate space is the best of listening experiences. Those surges of raw power always please, but it is something else that I look for. It is their collective agility , the tension and release and the quality of their ensemble playing. This is quickly revealed if the charts are well written, and they were.
People like to compare big bands and as a spectator sport it has some currency. I can’t help wondering however if eggs are always being compared with eggs. There are rehearsal bands like the Village Vanguard Orchestra (Thad Jones Big Band) who meet once a week (but with ever-changing personnel). Less common are the professional or semi professional units who get regular work and whose core personnel are less likely change (The WDR, Mingus Big Band, Roger Fox Big Band). Lastly there are all-star bands which come together for a recording, a gig, a concept or just for fun (Bob Beldens ‘Miles Espanol’ Jazz Orchestra, The Kenny Wheeler Big Band).
The AJO falls mostly into the first group but there is another dimension to what they do: they are a writing band and part of their reason for existence is to write charts and/or to create original arrangements. Quite a few in the band write and that gives the band an Auckland flavour. The compositions tell our city’s story. As a city we need to value them more and ensure that they get the work and the recognition they deserve. The City Council needs to have them on their radar and call on them for appropriate official functions? Knowing Jazz musicians pay packets, the public purse would be left largely intact if they did.
The AJO is a mix of seasoned players and new talent and this gives them a certain flavour. With their unfamiliar charts they perform a high wire act and because of that there is a hint of risk; to pull this off and at the same time entertain, requires a deftness of touch. The AJO has this as the co-founders Tim Atkinson and Mike Booth manage to inspire and guide without stifling creativity.
During the night we heard tight ensemble playing, a number of nice solos (particularly from Mike Booth, Theo Clearwater, Steve Sherriff, Andrew Hall, Callum Passells, Jono Tan and Matt Steele). Vanessa McGowen was terrific on bass and her presence was felt in just the right way. Andrea Groenewald on guitar demonstrated her soloing and comping skills. The latter added just the right Freddie Green touch to the overall mix. Swinging a big band is not always easy but this band swung.
There were two sets and thirteen numbers – among them were ‘It doesn’t Snow There’ – Atkinson, ‘On the Water’ – Booth, ‘All the things you are‘ – Kern/Hammerstein, ‘Those Nights’ – Hall. I have included a You Tube clip of there AJO performing Tim Atkinson’s composition and arrangement of ‘It Doesn’t Snow There’ – see below.
The AJO’s personnel are: Mike Booth (lead trumpet, arranger, composer, co-founder), Tim Atkinson (conductor, arranger, composer, co-founder)
Altos; Steve Sheriff, Callum Passells – Tenors; Andrew Hall, Teo Clearwater – Baritone; Andrew Baker – Trumpets; Matthew Verrill, Mike Booth, Jo Spiers, Oliver Furneaux – Trombones; Mike Young, Mike Ashton, Jono Tan, Darrell Farley – Guitar; Andrea Groenewald – Piano; Matt Steele – Bass; Vanessa McGowen – Drums; Cameron Sangster
Stop Press: Tonight Auckland held its inaugural Jazz Journalists Association Awards Satellite Party. The Creative Jazz Club of Aotearoa (CJC) hosted the event and the club was packed to capacity. The CJC is the first Jazz club in the world to see the moon as there is nothing much between the club door and the International Date Line except ocean. In spite of the wet outside it soon became apparent that the Auckland Jazz community was going to turn up in force. No Jazz lover in their right mind would let an opportunity like this slip away and the club was soon filled up with a seething mass of Jazz fans; check to jowl with the who’s who of Auckland Jazz musicians.
During the evening Roger Manins was awarded the JJA Jazz Hero Award and this met with strong approval from the audience. Roger has been a popular choice as his work in promoting Jazz, teaching, mentoring and acting as programme director for the CJC have endeared him to everyone. Then there is his musicianship which astonishes and inspires, while setting the bar high. The work that Roger, Caroline and Ben do in running the CJC should not be overestimated. Having Roger in town and having a club like the CJC has been a game changer. More and more students are emerging from the Jazz schools and they need clubs like this to play in. Being tested is part of the journey.
Jazz musicians are the alchemists of the modern age: they forge a raw beauty out of the world about us. Musicians like Roger are the keepers of the magic.
This was a night of magic from start to finish and the Auckland Jazz Orchestra were superb. This nimble hard-swinging seventeen piece orchestra played its heart out and the audience never stopped smiling or tapping their feet. Sitting in front of a Jazz orchestra and feeling that surge of power is like nothing else I know. Tonight Auckland felt like the luckiest city on the planet.
Credit must go to the JJA who have been incredibly supportive throughout. Auckland is proud to have hosted its first JJA Jazz Awards Satellite Party and this is only the beginning.
The party continued long after the AJO had packed up and before long a Jam session was in full swing. To have Roger Manins (tenor), P J Koopman (guitar) and Brian Smith (tenor) on the band stand together was the icing on the cake. One by one the students got up to join them. Some looked nervous but they got up anyway. It is nights like this that guarantee the viability of this music we love.
A full review will follow soon – thanks to Jenny and Deepak for assisting.
Lets face it, no one will be disappointed by a Brian Smith Band and this particular lineup was an all-star affair. Man did they deliver.
You expect Brian to deliver royally as he has had such a successful output as evidenced by his 2006 (Taupo’ album). This also goes for Kevin Field (‘Field of Dreams’ album), Kevin Haines (‘Oxide’ album) and Frank Gibson Jnr (‘Rainbow Bridge‘ album), but a question mark may have lingered in some minds over Pete Barwick’s inclusion as he was the lessor known band member. He is a veteran sideman and widely respected among musicians; Brian knew exactly what he was doing. Pete was amazing on the night and he more than earned his place in this star studied lineup.
In spite of their respective pedigree’s this was a band of equals and out of that amalgam came a night of exceptional Jazz. A Hard Bop devotee in the audience said after the show, “I have been to Jazz clubs and concerts all over the world, but this may have been the best I have seen”.
The band played a number of Hard Bop standards as expected, but there were a few new originals as well. An original number featured at the end of the first set titled ‘CJC’ delighted everyone. Brian had penned this composition in the weeks preceding the gig and he dedicated it to Roger & Caroline Manins. Before playing the number Brian paid tribute to them and to the CJC club. The crowd loved this and applauded wildly.
In fact the audience was enthusiastic throughout the night and as tunes by Horace Silver, Heyman/Green, Brian Smith and others filled the club they could not have been happier.
The Creative Jazz Club (CJC) came into being for the express purpose of enabling such interactions and on nights like this both musicians and audiences are especially thankful for the clubs existence.
If any of you haven’t yet obtained a copy of Brian Smiths 2006 album ‘Taupo’ (Ode label) you need to remedy that situation immediately. This last gig may begin a buying frenzy and as the world has recently learned to its cost regarding in demand commodities – scarcity drives prices up. It is truly a marvelous album. If you can’t find a copy in Marbecks or JB HiFi then try Real Groovy Records or Trade Me – just buy it.
Creative Jazz Cub & Auckland Jazz Orchestra presents the
JJA Jazz Awards Satellite Party
The 16th Annual Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards is an international black tie event held at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York on Wednesday 20th June and features hundreds of musicians, jazz journalists, educators and industry associates.
Auckland musician/saxophonist Roger Manins has been awarded a Jazz Hero Award by JJA, so to celebrate and honour New Zealand’s jazz heroes, Auckland’s Creative Jazz Club (CJC) will be hosting the world’s first 2012 Awards Satellite Party at the Britomart’s Basement Bar also on Wednesday 20th June. The Awards will feature music by the Auckland Jazz Orchestra (AJO) and as New Zealand will be acknowledged at the New York Awards event, willing musicians and Jazz fans should arrive early for photographs – to be posted on the Jazz Journalists Associations Awards official web sites. Don’t miss one of the biggest events on the Jazz calendar!
Wednesday 20 June – Basement Bar, AUCKLAND
Home of the Creative Jazz Club, 1885, Galway St Central, BRITOMART
8pm, Tickets GA $10, CJC members & students $7, student members $5
The Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) honours excellence in jazz music, recordings, presentation and journalism. The 2012 Jazz Awards has 39 categories of excellence including Lifetime Achievement and Best of the Year Awards for musicians, presenters, recordings, photos, journalists, publications, blogs and websites. A star-studded coterie of musicians, journalists and music-world movers and shakers will be honoured in jazz’s only independent, international, culture-and-community-wide awards celebration.
Creative Jazz Club (CJC) was set up two years ago by musicians Carolina Moon, Roger Manins and broadcaster Mark Robinson. Webmaster Ben McNichol and journalist John Fenton complete the team. Now a world-class jazz club, CJC fosters and promotes the development of Auckland’s creative jazz scene by providing musicians with a dedicated performance space, nurturing emerging artists, and the programming of innovative local, national and international talent in its weekly Wednesday club night. Vocalist and composer Carolina Moon – who is currently touring her medieval world music fusion Mother Tongue in-between teaching jazz vocals at the University of Auckland – said “I was motivated to start CJC primarily because there was nowhere for us to play our music, and I thought well there must be other people in the same boat too. When we first opened, one of NZ’s landmark jazz musicians said to me – ‘now I have something to practice for’ – and gee I just wanted to cry. So we started out at Cafe 121, Ponsonby Rd and over that first year we saw the creative scene really start to grow as it provided bands with an outlet for their creative projects – AND an audience which wants to listen and be part of it.”
Roger Manins won the Australian National Jazz Awards for saxophone in 2002 and this month, will receive a JJA Jazz Hero Award as international recognition of his outstanding musicianship and services to the community and education. Roger was born in Waiuku and currently teaches at the University of Auckland between touring nationally and internationally with various groups such as the Roger Manins Trio/Quartet, Hip Flask, Carolina Moon, Resonator, Manins Muller featuring Mike Nock plus a series of Trans-Tasman collaborations. Roger has released 3 CDs – Hip Flask, Trio and Latitude – and is recorded on more than 30 jazz albums with some of Australasia’s leading artists.
“an outstandingly gifted musician with a warmly passionate sound, remarkable instrumental ability and total musical integrity” – Mike Nock
“one of the best newly issued hard bop recordings I’ve heard in quite some time. Manins sounds incredible throughout, but is particularly exceptional on Monk’s Well You Needn’t. Manins et al. aren’t merely recreating—they’re creating new music by taking Hard Bop elements to new places” – Slim’s Spins, Cadence Magazine, USA (March 2012)
Some die-hard Jazz fans complain that the modern jazz scene doesn’t produce enough music that sounds like that of the ‘classic era’. This mythical era that they remember so fondly didn’t exist in the way they thought. They forget that Louis Armstrong accused Dizzy Gillespie of playing ‘Chinese music’ and that Bill Evans was accused of not swinging.
The Jazz in any defined era has always sounded surprisingly different from the music that preceded it. Jim Hall circa 2012 sounds nothing like the Jim Hall of the early ‘Pacific Jazz’ Era and why should he. This is not a music to be set in aspic or to be kept in a hermetically sealed container to protect it from impurities. Jazz is not a fragile dying art form but a vibrant improvised restless music that lives perpetually in the now. As Whitney Balliett so famously said it is ‘the sound of surprise’.
Kevin Fields new album illustrates this premise perfectly.
On Wednesday 25th April the CJC (Creative Jazz Club of Aotearoa) featured pianist Kevin Field as he promoted his ‘Field of Vision’ album. Being a fan of Kevin’s, I had been quick to obtain a copy of the album and I was delighted by what I heard. This was music with a deep groove and an unmistakable pulse. The banks of synthesizers, the singers and the electric bass lines had given it a distinct Soul Jazz context. Out of this came a series of mesmerizing grooves, which engulfed us in a way that made definitions quite meaningless. As the band played at the CJC we sunk happily into a warm vibe that made the Autumn night seem very far away.
The club gig kicked off with ‘See Happen’; a number that drew us deeper and deeper into a vamp while figures on the piano created a pleasing filigree by way of contrast. The next number ‘imaginary friend’, opened the vistas wider. On the album this was especially noticeable as the Steinway Grand, Fender Rhodes, Prophet T8 and Roland Jupiter 8 worked beautifully over the four piece string section
It had an almost cinematic feel to it and I could not help but be reminded of the work of Creed Taylor’s CTI label. Instead of CTI’s Don Sebesky this album had utilised the services of Wayne Senior who arranged the string section. The first airing of this material had been in the Kenneth Myers Centre and it was therefore fitting that Wayne Senior had been involved as his connection with the KMC goes back a long way.
The album was produced by Nathan Haines and his handiwork is evident throughout. He plays alto flute, an ARP synth and is credited as co-composer on 4 of the 11 numbers. The rest of the numbers were written by Kevin and they are probably his best work to date.
The band that Kevin brought to the CJC was a smaller unit than on the album and that is just as well because the club was packed. A small club has a very different sound to a recording studio and the warmth and intimacy is the obvious benefit of being in that space. When you buy the disk (and you should) you will notice a broader sound palette, a bigger line up and a crisper sound. Both experiences are complimentary and anyone attending who has also purchased the album will count themselves lucky.
Stephen Thomas had been brought in as drummer for the CJC gig and he had sweetened the deal by a congratulatory email that he sent to Kevin after the initial release. “Man those were some sick grooves” he had messaged. Kevin immediately confirmed him as right drummer for the gig. Stephen is a terrific drummer and the choice was a good one.
Once again we saw Dixon Nacey perform and as always we watched open-mouthed. This man is so good that it is frightening. Completing the lineup were guests; Nathan Haines, Marjan Gorgani and Clo Chaperon (the latter had great soul voices). All added something essential to the rich mix and in Nathan’s case this is only to be expected.
I would also like to mention Karika Turua. He played a big Fender bass and his grooves although loud, were as big as his guitar.
There were a few quieter piano passages as well and on these we hear the crisp touch, the harmonic exploration and the crunched chords that have become so familiar to us in Kevin’s playing. Kevin has many fans in New Zealand and most will have heard his previous piano trio album ‘Irony’ (Rattle Records). Although different I would regard both as essential purchases as we follow Kevin Fields career.
The CJC band was: Kevin Field (Leader, Yamaha piano, Fender Rhodes, Synth) – Dixon Nacey (guitar) – Stephen Thomas (drums) – Karika Turua (bass) – Marjan Gorgani / Clo Chaperon (vocals) – guest Nathan Haines (alto flute, soprano sax).
On the album were: Kevin Field (Leader, Steinway piano, Fender Rhodes, Roland Jupiter 8, ARP Odyssey,Prophet T8 ) – Nathan Haines (ARP Odyssey, alto flute) – Dixon Nacey (guitar) – Joel Haines (guitar) – Mickey Ututaonga (drums) – Migual Fuentes (percussion) – Karika Turua (bass) – Bex Nabouta/ Marjan Gorgani/Kevin Mark Trail (vocals) – Cherie Matheson (backing vocals) – Miranda Adams/Justine Cormack (violins) – Robert Ashworth Viola) – Ashley Brown (Cello) – Chris Cox – (drum programming).
This album can be purchased in any major record store or for more information contact ‘Haven Music’ a division of ‘Warners Music NZ’.
All photographs by Peter Koopman – Gig venue/CJC Jazz club Auckland
The 30th of April 2012 has recently been designated World Jazz Day by UNESCO. This significant recognition of our music is great and we will be celebrating this in Auckland along with the worldwide Jazz Community.
The Jazz Journalists Association is actively celebrating this world event and as part of their programme, members have been asked to nominate a Local Jazz Hero. To follow events go to www.jjajazzawards.org/. Here in Auckland, New Zealand we have nominated Saxophonist, Jazz educator Roger Manins as our first Jazz Hero. Roger is also the programme director and co-founder of the not-for-profit ‘CJC ‘Creative Jazz Club of Aotearoa’ (along with his wife Carolina Moon and friend Ben McNicoll).
Roger has been nominated for a number of reasons. He is certainly one of New Zealand’s (and indeed Australasia’s) best tenor players and as such he is an inspiration to up and coming Jazz Musicians. Of equal importance though is his role as an educator and enabler. Roger lived and worked extensively in Australia for 10 years (he also lived in New York for 2 years), and even though he returned to NZ in 2004 he is still very much in demand across the Tasman, gigging and touring at regular intervals.
Roger teaches at the Auckland University School Of Music Jazz Programme. Anyone who listens to Roger will quickly identify him as a person with killer chops, but he also has the ability to tell a compelling story on his horn.
“He is an outstandingly gifted musician with a warmly passionate sound, remarkable instrumental ability and total musical integrity”. Mike Nock
This story telling in almost any given context draws listeners to him again and again – a skill that was very evident in the likes of Lester Young or Dexter Gordon, but which is not always evident in modern players. Roger can play convincingly in any Jazz genre from free through post bop to mainstream traditional.
Roger is often generous with his time when it comes to nurturing up-and-comers. He will encourage and push those who he thinks need that, while gently insisting that they meet the required standard. With lots of younger players coming out of the two local Jazz Schools, it is essential that they get this real-world feedback in a way that keeps them challenged but not discouraged.
Having a world-class venue is part of this mix and the CJC is just that. Its vision is to stimulate and encourage the development of excellence in the creative improvised / jazz scene, and as programme director, Roger ensures that the diversity of the music scene is represented. The gigs are varied every week and feature prominent ex-pat Kiwis and international artists as well as national and local talents. It is Roger’s connections with the wider scene and the esteem in which musicians hold him that helps to make this happen.
Finally, I want to mention his very Kiwi sense of humour, which is evident both on and off the bandstand. He often slips in sly jokes or asides when introducing acts and his You Tube videos on ‘How to Play Smooth Jazz’ are simply hilarious. These have a cult following in NZ and Australia and the tongue in cheek delivery is so convincing that pupils of smooth jazz sometimes contact him to seek instruction without realising that it is all a delicious joke.
Roger is in demand in both Australia and New Zealand as a tenor player, multi reeds and winds player. He has recorded on many albums as an essential sideman and also as leader. He is married to fellow musician Carolina Moon (Manins) and has a daughter Milli.