Concerts - visiting Musicians, Lewis Eadys, New Zealand Jazz Gigs, Piano Jazz

Michal Martyniuk Trio + Jakub Skowronski

Martyniuk (1)When Michal Martyniuk left Auckland for Poland last year, it was hot on the heels of a successful appearance at Java Jazz; the biggest Jazz festival in the world.  It was always on the cards that Martyniuk’s Auckland trio would fare well, as they are the epitome of an inventive, high energy unit and all of that is wrapped up in a very European sound.

While it was obvious to Kiwis and to the enthusiastic Java Jazz festival goers, I wondered how Martyniuk would be received in Europe. I have travelled there often and there are thousands of good Jazz musicians and many fine trios vying for attention. Jazz is valued there, especially in the northeast, and audiences are inclined to be very discriminating. I got my answer shortly after Martyniuk’s arrival, as notifications of media events, club gigs, radio and TV interviews started appearing. He had broken through the clamour and received acclaim in his birthplace. His co-released warm as toast Jazz-soul-funk album ‘After ‘Ours’ and his Jazz gigs, equally acclaimed.  Martyniuk (2)

The journey back to the country of his birth had been important for Martyniuk and he has returned with heightened confidence, exuding a sense that anything is possible. This was evidenced by the trio’s live performance at the Lewis Eady showroom. Many New Zealand improvising bands have a laid back organic feel as that is generally our thing. In contrast, this band is tightly focussed, but without that in any way detracting from its appeal. The tunes by Martyniuk are melodic and often rhythmically complex. This is counterbalanced nicely by Samsom and McArthur who create contrast and interwoven texture. The first set was a mix of old and new tunes. His older tunes like The Awakening and New Beginning, familiar in the same way standards are – always pleasing, always yielding up something fresh. His more recent compositions a mix of burners and ballads. Martyniuk (3)

The Lewis Eady gig was augmented by the addition of visiting Polish saxophonist Jakub Skowronski. Skowronski has a beautiful even tone on tenor and like Samsom and McArthur, he’s the perfect foil for Martyniuk. While he made it all look effortless, his solos took us deep inside the music. These guys were made to play together and I hope they remain a unit. They have a lot more to tell us yet and with any luck, we will get to enjoy the continuing story as it unfolds. Those who wish to be part of this journey can contribute via a recently set up ‘Kickstarter’ campaign following this link. There was some really exciting new material recorded in Poland over the last year and the Kickstarter campaign is about getting that released into the world. No one ever regretted supporting great music like this.


Michal Martyniuk (piano, compositions, leader), Cameron McArthur (upright bass), Ron Samsom (drums, percussion) + Jakub Skowronski (tenor). You can follow this band and order albums from Empire Agency Co. Bands / Michal Martyniuk Trio



Post Bop, Review, USA and Beyond

The sublime odyssey of Hank Jones

I have never met a Jazz aficionado who did not like the pianist Hank Jones.  Because he was still recording so frequently at age ninety one it was tempting to think that he would live for ever.   To see footage of Hank playing was to love him because he radiated a rare warmth and a humanity.  His early influences in Jazz piano were Fats Waller and Art Tatum.  He was also there from the inception of Bebop but somehow he seemed to span the whole history of Jazz in his chordal voicing; which stretched from stride to post bop .   Joyous music ran out of his fingers like water from a faucet and we loved him because he was a Jazz god living among us. He believed that good Jazz should be infused with the blues and he practiced what he preached.  As he got older you could hear him happily sigh and chuckle as he played.  His deep throated vocalisations though quiet, somehow gave additional joy to his already joyous swinging music.

Hank was born in 1918 into a musical Mississippi family and his younger brothers Thad and Elvin became Jazz greats in their own right.  In his later years wide-spread recognition came his way but his innate modesty meant that the praise washed over him.  Hank was a great teacher and he never failed to support up-and-coming musicians.  A number of careers benefited from his support and this was a gift that he bestowed right up until his passing.   Hank left us in 2010 and the loss is still keenly felt.  A visit to the official Hank Jones web site will lessen the blow, because as you hear him welcome you, the realisation comes that his legacy and above all his music will remain with us always.