Rebecca Melrose band /New Collective Experiment@CJC

Wednesday 18th July was a double bill and the first up was ‘The New Collective Experiment’ – Adam Larson (alto), Ross Larson (electric bass), Frank Conway (drums).   The band had stated their intention from the first few notes and having marked out their wide open territory they dug deep.   The act was billed as ‘creating music out of the moment’ and that is exactly what they did.   The saxophonist spun out a kaleidoscope of images while the bass and drums responded.  The strength of the Alto brought it to the forefront and while the interplay was a little less even during the longest pieces, the horn held the focus.   There was one number at the end of the first set in which Dixon Nacey was invited onto the bandstand.   Having Dixon on the bandstand will ultra enhance any performance.

The second act on the billing was the Rebecca Melrose band (an octet).   This was her first CJC gig as leader.   Rebecca (vocals, leader) gives Jazz numbers a hint of soul.  What quickly becomes evident though is her preparedness to confront more challenging Jazz material unflinchingly.   Like a number of young singers she can scat with ease and it is during these moments that her inventiveness comes to the fore.  I was intrigued by the choice of material which ranged from the easy-going to the braver forays. A case in point was the wonderful ‘Zhivago’ by Kurt Rosenwinkel.    She had wisely chosen to do this number as a duo with Dixon Nacey.

If you can’t get Kurt Rosenwinkel to fly in then go straight to Dixon.   My god he was wonderful and his fans in the audience were delighted to hear him eating up the changes of this deceptively complex song.  He knew just where to place those chords and when to back off.   Rebecca knew that she had a unique situation on her hands and she responded extremely well.    This is the clip that I have put up (especially after a number of people in the audience emailed me their wish lists).  The sound in the clip is a little guitar heavy but that is the fault of my HD Video equipment.  It was more balanced in reality.  This is a new standard for those with the chops to take it on.  I really liked the lyrics but had never heard them before – I learned that Rebecca had penned them and that all other compositions were hers.

The octet created a nice rounded sound and when they hit the sweet spot it was a joy to listen to them.   I have heard the Bass Player Eamon Edmunson-Wells and the drummer Jared Desvaux de Marigny before and they both impress.   Jared appears capable of fitting into many diverse situations and he managed this one with consummate ease.   Liz Stokes on trumpet is also a frequent performer at the CJC.   The remaining band members were: Ben Devery (piano), Manaf Ibrahim (guitar), Scott Thomas (tenor sax).  The venue was the Creative Jazz Club of Aotearoa (CJC)

Trio White – CJC

Trio White @ CJC gig

I am a big fan of Jazz guitar and so I need no arm twisting to get me along to a Jazz Guitar gig.   Last Wednesday the CJC featured a local guitar trio (+ piano in second half).    I was not previously aware of ‘Trio White’ and so I was intrigued.    I soon learnt that this band knew exactly what they were about as they launched into the first set with fiery determination.

Trio White is composed of; Ben White (guitar), Joanne Shum (bass), Steve Harvie (drums)

From an overheard conversation I learned that they had been keen to play at the CJC for a while and were hungry to play in front of more Jazz audiences.   They have been together for a while and according to their promotional material formed in order to explore the most contemporary sounds of Jazz.

On Wednesday the group performed their own material,  but they do mention Kurt Rosenwinkel as an influence and I am not surprised.

While they treated us to some slower and more melodic numbers, the main thrust of their music was intense hard-driving; blowing jazz.  Their was no mistaking that Ben White was the leader and he worked the band hard as he executed his rapid fire runs up and down the neck of the guitar.   He also demonstrated some skillful chord work and comped when the bass took a solo, but the thrust of this hard-driving music came from the intense lines he tossed out.

It was hard to catch the song titles as the band did not pay terribly much attention to introducing tunes.   They began by launching straight into the music and only brief announcements followed; almost as an aside.    They were primed to play and that was all that mattered.

For the second set they were joined by Dr Stephen Small on piano and as you would expect a slightly more reflective vibe took over.   Having a piano added to a guitar trio changes the dynamic and the musicians have to be more aware of creating room for each other.   It can also free up a guitarist, as chords are less of an issue to be factored into the mix.

One number I did catch the title of was the ironically named ‘Untitled Tune‘.   For me it was the best number of the evening.    I loved it from start to finish – thoroughly enjoyable music.   The band communicated as a unit and were more aware of each other; responding in the best possible way to the challenges being laid down.

Following that was a slow burning groove number with a walking bass line that drove the tune relentlessly.   Joanne Shum held the centre and for this one track she and drummer Steve Harvie ruled the roost.    Dr Stephen Smalls piano was excellent as well and he did exactly what was expected of a pianist joining a piano trio.

In last weeks blog I speculated that this might well be the golden era of Auckland Jazz.   If that is the case then it is down to this CJC Jazz club and the dedication of Caroline, Roger, Ben and the others who work at this so tirelessly.     Keep them coming please, the magic is apparently endless.