Brian Smith Quintet featuring Pete Barwick @ CJC

Brian Smith & Pete Barwick

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.

Brian Smith

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.

Pete Barwick

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.

JJA Jazz Awards Satellite Party in Auckland

Press release: Wed 6th June 2012

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

http://www.jjajazzawards.org,  www.rogermanins.com,  www.creativejazzclub.co.nz

CJC contacts – caroline@creativejazzclub.co.nz    roger@creativejazzclub.co.nz   John Fenton blogsite – Jazz Local 32   http://www.jon4jaz.wordpress.com

Publicity – Leesa Tilley / publicity-machine@clear.net.nz / phone 09 3766 868

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)

http://www.jjajazzawards.org http://www.rogermanins.com http://www.creativejazzclub.co.nz CJC contacts – caroline@creativejazzclub.co.nz / roger@creativejazzclub.co.nz

John Fenton blogsite – Jazz Local 32 – http://www.jon4jaz.wordpress.com (Jazz Journalists Association).

Publicity – Leesa Tilley / publicity-machine@clear.net.nz / phone 09 3766 868

Nathan Haines ‘Poets Embrace’ reprise

Nathan, Ben, & Steve

Last week saw the Nathan Haines Fourtet return to the CJC with an altered line-up.  Alain Koetsier the former drummer is now running a language school in China and Thomas Botting has packed up his bass and moved to Australia.   Above all we knew that this would also be the last time that we would see Nathan for while as he moves back to the UK in July.

In place of the departed musicians we heard Stephen Thomas on drums and Ben Turua on bass.    There had also been some changes made in the club configuration and it was surprising how the rearrangement of furniture subtly altered the sound.    The sight lines were also greatly improved for those standing along the bar and near to the entrance.     I have heard this material at four different gigs now, but for accessibility and quality of sound this gig worked the best for me.  It was great to be able to watch Kevin Field at work as the piano was no longer obscured by the bar.

Kevin Field

Those of us who have been listening to the ‘Poets Embrace’ album for months knew the material backwards, but with new personnel, such keen improvisers and an extremely enthusiastic audience we were always going to get something different.  We did.

I like every track on the album but if pushed I would single out ‘Ancestral Dance’ as a favourite.  The version on the night was blistering and it captured the drive and ethos of the band perfectly.   As Nathan mines deeper into this material he constantly finds new ideas and it has been a real privilege to watch this project grow from its inception to this final CJC gig three-quarters of a year later.

This album has achieved a rare feat in New Zealand.   It rose to number three on the best-selling album list and tracks from the album rocketed up the charts to unprecedented heights.  To those of us who have rated the album highly this has not been surprising, but here’s the interesting thing.  This is no-holds-barred model jazz of the sort that came out on the Impulse Label.

Younger listeners found this no barrier and embraced it whole heartedly, which was evidenced by the age of the audience at the gigs.   Nathan has always had a diverse following, but this journey took us to a new place in our Kiwi Jazz journey.  For that he deserves our deepest respect and we wish him the best as he returns to London.   This era that is so faithfully evoked was the high water-mark of analogue sound and the warmth and glow is evident in the recording (see earlier blogs on Jazz Local 32 for the methodology of ‘The Poets Embrace’ recording).

An undoubted highlight of the evening was the tenor battle between Nathan and Roger Manins.   It was our own version of the Sony Stitt and Gene Ammons tenor sessions.   The crowds whooped in delight as this full-throated exchange occurred.   It was a night never to be forgotten.

The clip I have included here was filmed in the weeks before Alain left for China and so Stephen is not yet in the band.  The lineup on the night was Nathan Haines (tenor sax), Kevin Field (piano), Ben Turua (bass), Stephen Thomas (drums) – guest Roger Manins (tenor sax).

‘Dr Dog’ takes the Jazz Pulse of Auckland

Animal lovers, children and Jazzers alike were delighted to learn that the ‘Dr Dog’ Jazz quartet would be performing in the Creative Jazz Club (CJC). This was somewhat of a dream band as it featured ‘I cani popolari‘ from the halls of academia; Roger Manins (tenor), Kevin Field (piano, Rhodes), Oli Holland (Bass) and Ron Samsom (drums).

The band having no clear leaders could follow their noses, but in spite of that they worked as one throughout the evening. In Jazz-dog years they represented around 317.4 years of experience and so their ability to act in a disciplined manner was hardly surprising. They took their lead from each other.

Roger had managed to sniff out the microphone first and so the job of introducing the band members and the numbers fell to him. An endless stream of puns and dog stories followed and at one point some frank observations on the variability of dog intelligence risked causing serious offense to Afghan owners. As none appeared to be present the crises was averted and the dog related compositions flowed in happy succession.

If anyone thought this to be a frivolous exercise, they should be disabused of that notion. This was a band which had ‘chops’ (OK I had to put that in), the ability to delight a crowd and a string of intelligent compositions to shine over.

It is expected that the canine metaphors and jokes will continue to dog this band for some years; peaking around 2014 before eventually subsiding. As a departure from the normal CD prize there was a meat raffle. A cat named Jason took that prize.

The music that we heard was so good that a few of us are going to lay a trail of sausages; leading from the Auckland University School of Music Jazz Programme to the nearest recording studio (Yorkie Street studios or Ratter Records).

In researching this Canine Jazz phenomena I recalled another dog band which had performed at the CJC . Guitarist Neil Watson’s ‘Zen Dogs’ performed at the club about a year ago. When I ran into Neil months later I asked him if ‘Zen Dogs’ would be performing again soon. He answered in that enigmatic way of all Zen masters. “Oh that was a concept band”. “But will they be performing again”, I asked?. “No the band was literally a concept – not an actual band”. Confused and pondering the meaning of this Koan, I could not help wondering. Had I imagined the entire gig?

‘Dr Dog’ on the other hand is a band grounded in realty. A cartoon dog band entirely relevant to our times.

Footnotes: I have used sepia photographs to show respect, as they add a certain gravitas befitting the age and experience of the band. All photos are mine including ‘Dr Dog’ who was caught in Chelsea London and subjected to Photoshop without his permission. You will be pleased to learn that I managed to avoid using the following: barking up the wrong tree, woofers and Roger was a wag.

Kevin Field – ‘Field of Vision’ gig & album

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

Alan Brown@CJC (KMC Live launch)- C3 organ/guitar/drums

Alan Brown & C3

When ever Alan Brown brings a band to the CJC, the club fills to capacity.  Alan is well-known, deeply respected and he swings like crazy.  The ‘KMC Live’ release was always going to be a significant musical occasion, but on this night the sparks of inspiration flew between the band members and we witnessed something transcendent .  This was an incendiary gig that lifted our spirits; causing us to tap our feet uncontrollably and for some, to dance with abandon in the flickering shadows.   Alan had arrived earlier in the day, because dragging a heavy C3 organ down into a basement presented challenges.   The patience of Job and the strength of Hercules are required.  These wonderful organs with their bass pedals, wood-paneled console and double keyboard have probably caused preachers to swear when moving then.   It would not surprise me if some elected to rebuild the church round the organ rather than drag it up front.  It is our gain entirely that Alan achieved the translocation.   Hearing the wonderful bluesy phrases flow effortlessly from his fingers as they flew over the keyboards and seeing his feet pedaling out compelling bass lines was a rare treat.

Josh Sorenson

Dixon Nacey is without a shadow of doubt one of the best guitarists in New Zealand and it is a joy to watch him solo and interact with the other musicians.  During solos he will often close his eyes while weighing up the next step and his facial expressions reveal his commitment to the process as he dives ever deeper into the tune.  It is also a revelation to watch him in call and response situations.    When he and Alan are batting each other ideas, this often turns into good-natured un-armed combat.    Dixon watches intently while waiting for a challenge.  Occasionally calling to the others as if to say, “do your worst”.  When a musical phrase is tossed into the air he will smile gleefully and pounce on it, turning it about until it is fashioned into a thing of his own.  Josh Sorenson proved to be the perfect groove drummer as he locked down the beat and pulled the unit together.    This type of drumming requires specialist skills and Josh most certainly possesses these.

Tonight was the launch of Alan’s album ‘Live at the KMC’.   This was recorded at the Kenneth Meyers Centre back in September 2010 and choice of venue was fortuitous.    The venue is of historic importance as it has nurtured radio and TV in its infancy.    It is now part of the Auckland University School of Music (Creative Arts Section).  An acoustic gem.  Alan had recorded this gig thinking only that it could prove useful as a private resource.   One listen convinced him that he needed to release the material at some future date.

The set list at the CJC gig (and on the album) was a mix of Alan’s original tunes with three standards thrown in.   The standards  were ‘Maiden Voyage‘(Herbie Hancock) and ‘All Blues‘ (Miles Davis) and ‘Chank’ (John Scofield) – all arranged by Alan.   The rest of Alan’s compositions were; ‘Mr Raven’ (from the Blue Train days), ‘Charlie’s Here’, ‘Shades of Blue’, ‘In Fluence’, ‘Slight Return’, ‘Inciteful’.    ‘Shades of Blue’ was the best known of the originals while Alan’s interpretation of ‘Maiden Voyage’ was delightfully brooding and moody.  It was a nice take on this well-loved tune.  If I had to choose which of the tunes I liked best however I would probably say ‘Inciteful’.   This was played in extended form and it teased every ounce of inventiveness and musicianship out of the band.

On this night the stream of ideas kept coming, as fresh musical vistas were revealed.   Each one holding us in suspense until the next gem appeared.  This was organ/guitar/drum music at its best; intelligent, highly charged and full of joyous abandon.  A groove jazz trio of the sort you might find in East Philly or Montreal had been formed on our own doorstep.  This gig took place at the Creative Jazz Club (CJC) in Auckland New Zealand on the 18th April 2012

Dixon Nacey

‘Mother Tongue’ – Carolina Moon (the Sephardic music of medieval Spain)

Carolina’s wonderful album ‘Mother Tongue’ is beguiling and all it takes is a single listen, for the mysterious beauty of this ancient music to stay with you forever.   This album speaks of medieval Spanish Sephardic culture with absolute authority and in partaking of the journey we are connected to a time and place most New Zealanders know little about.

The Moors ruled much of Southern Spain (Al Andalus) for nearly 700 years and what is little known is that they welcomed the Jewish diaspora to live among them.     This tolerance by Islamic Spain lasted until the Reconquista by the Catholic Christian armies of the north and after their arrival (15th century), the Judeo-Spanish faced the ultimatum of expulsion, conversion or death.  The songs of the Sepahardic Jewish are rich in imagery and the cadences of their unique language are evident in these sensual and often wistful songs.     Contained in this music are the rhythms of Arab, Hebrew and Spanish life.    A truelly blended music that has been deeply enriched by the streams that have fed it.    Ladino (Latin) is the term for this ancient language, which has also helped form the distinct Catalan variant of Spanish.

Carolina Moon (Mannins) is a fine Jazz singer but she is also a multi-lingual singer and well versed in other musical genres.  She is British by birth but has worked extensively as a musician and music teacher in the UK, Australia and for some time now New Zealand.   This is our gain.   The excellent arrangements on ‘Mother Tongue’ are Carolina’s and it is this factor, coupled with her unmistakably rich voice,  that gives the album that extra depth and authenticity.  It is obvious that she has invested everything in these performances.   This has never been just another gig for her

I would like to make mention of several songs that are on the album.  The first is the wonderful ‘Ondas’ (13th century Spanish).  The word in Spanish means wave or ripple and she could not have chosen a better track to open with.  The timbre of her voice is rich and filled with the passion and longing of the song.   At certain points the emotion is so visceral that it sends a shiver down the spine.     I have not reacted to a voice in that way since I last heard Sassy on ‘tenderly’.  The second and contrasting song is ‘Tres Hermanicas’ (track 8).    This is a traditional Sephardic song and the full band is used to very good effect.    Because of the arrangement and the rhythm it sounds closer to the Manouche traditions.

The accompanying musicians are all top rated and many are the cream of the Jazz world.   New Zealand’s finest acoustic guitarist Nigel Gavin is the only choice for this music, as his Manouche credentials and guitar chops are impeccable.    Kevin Field is on piano and once again he has managed to be the perfect accompanist. Caroline’s husband Roger Manins weaves his usual magic and his abilities as a multi reedist are manifest here.   Ron Samsom and Chris O’Connor (percussion and drums), Jessica Hindin (violin), Matthias Erdrich, Mostyn Cole, Steve Haines (acoustic bass).

Every music lover should purchase a copy of this, which is produced and mixed by Steve Garden for Ode records (with the assistance of Creative NZ).    To learn more about this gifted artist go to;  http://www.moonmusik.com – better yet come and hear her perform live during the tour – underway at present.   The next performance is at the CJC (Basement of 1885 Galway St) Wednesday 2nd November.

Footnote: The first merger of western music and African Music was always thought to be Jazz, but musico- ethnologists are now pointing to Moorish Spain (over a 1000 years before), as the first time this occurred.    The improvising traditions are deep streams within all good music.