Sunday, August 12, 2018

Concert Review - Julia Deans - We Light Fire Tour San Francisco Bath House 11/08/2018

The one thing that has always been consistent with Julia Deans is her purity of voice.  It's always such a beautiful and unfiltered delight to hear.  No need for studio trickery or autocues here.  And with it, she's a humble and graceful performer, with just a touch of the dramatic diva for punch.  I remember interviewing her at WOMAD and being impressed by her phrasing and patient treatment of every word.  These are the same skills we saw tonight as Ms Deans brought us a collection of songs, mainly from her latest release, We Light Fire

Deans' voice is spinetingling from the opening notes to the dying embers.  Clearly the best honey-tinged falsetto in Aotearoa - ever!

She opened the set with the smouldering, slow burn of Clandestine.  That song sets the mood for the evening.  This is not a rock concert.  The efforts are in the effortless delivery of every song, with careful attention paid to the execution of each lyrical phrase.

Primarily, ... Fire is a pop-rock record,  with traces of synth-pop and jazz influences.  You saw that tonight in her treatment of the album's lead single, The Panic.  It's an instant winner coming mid-set after the more sultry, sparse numbers like Pick Up and Centre.  And it's the most radio-friendly song on the album.  So again a winner.  Its urgent beat and grungy bass lines have been heightened by the small wooden room, emphasising furious anxiety in the bass.  Her lyrics centre around a cold revelation in the chorus of this song: "Deep in our hearts, we sleep alone." 

The album's first half has the strongest songs, which we get scattered through the set.  Like Souvenir, which is strangely meditative, as its shuffled beat lends a sense of mystery to Deans' stunning harmonies.  She's not alone.  Deans is flanked by two confident wahines, Tali on guitars and Auckland Americana singer Reb Fountain, who also plays the guitar, and is in charge of the tom drum for one dramatic moment.  They do who do their best to match her vocal skills.  They almost carry it off.  But Dean's honey-toned vox is a real challenge to master, and you can never predict which octave she'll choose to settle on before transforming into a growling rage.  The album was recorded by Deans and her partner, former Shihad soundman David Wernham, at their home studio is impressive; the production quality is immaculate throughout.  Unfortunately, that level of quality is almost impossible to match on stage.  That said the approximation is pretty good.

On wax the electronic elements are largely welcome, certain synth lines and embellishments are superfluous and border on gimmicks. On stage, you don't get that.  With Richie Pickard on bass and drummer, Jono Sawyer driving the engine room and the ladies providing the strong direction vocally from the cab this truck has a clear destination and knows its way to its destination.  It's a clean and clear delivery, without embellishments.

It has to be said that Dean's 15 song repertoire, tonight, was not extensive.  But she does the occasional nod to past works.  Modern Fables and Skin (both from her last former album) get a look in, and a big tick from the crowd.  It wasn't a huge or packed gig but those that had hoofed it up from the Beervana Fest downtown like me were rewarded well. 

Another highlight is her response to the world's continuous poor treatment of women, Walking In the Sun.  It begins, perfectly with some delicious harmonies from the three women and this time they totally nail it.  Another wonderful moment to savour.  The hook in the chorus is addictive. 

While I'm used to seeing Deans behind a guitar, it was nice to see her at the keyboards, sepecially at the end of the night with her two encore pieces Chelsea and Dialogue.  Both are delivered with a delicate care, like handling a newborn.  Which, given this album has only been released seems appropriate.  I really like this new album and it works superbly live and on record.  My biggest regret was not having the cash to pick a vinyl copy, having heard to songs live and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Review and photos by the Coffeebar Kid

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Others Way Festival is Back!

Clear your calendar, dump any existing plans and brace yourself to leave the house for a change... because The Others Way will return on Friday August 31.

For the uninitiated, The Others Way is a festival where we curate a line-up of the best alternative acts from across the country (and a few from around the globe) and have them perform across a number of favoured K Road venues such as Whammy Bar, The Wine Cellar, Neck of the Woods, Galatos and Studio Venue, with some exciting new locales yet to be announced!

Last year featured 40 acts including Bic Runga, The Courtneys, Grayson Gilmour, Jonathan Bree, Lawrence Arabia, Mermaidens, Street Chant, Tiny Ruins and Wax Chattels and this year will see another plethora of great artists from indie to electronica to hip hop to pop and much more…

The first line-up will be announced next week, but we're letting all you keen beans grab tickets as soon as possible. Like last year we have a tiered ticketing system; currently you can buy an "Early Bird" for the low price of $59, and once they run out you'll have to stump up some extra cash for a "General Bird" ticket and even a little more once all that is left are those pesky "Late Bird" tickets. The "SUPER Early Bird" tickets are all gone already, so don't sleep on it... grab a ticket below!

Click here to find out more

And here's a taster from Jed Parsons, who we expect will be in the line up.

We're under a week away from Cantabrian Jed Parsons releasing his solo debut album Midnight Feast. Over the past couple of months you might have seen his cheeky clips for tracks like Get Lost, Everybody’s Stupid and Time (pictured above) but don't let them deceive you, Parsons is a skilled musician, having worked with nomad, Pacific Heights and cousin Mel Parsons. If you're a fan of Mac Demarco, Conan Mockasin, & The Phoenix Foundation, Midnight Feast will be the perfect indulgence.

Jed Parsons is about to traverse Aotearoa in celebration of this release, stopping in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin at the end of the month. Dates and ticketing details can be found at Undertheradar

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Kamasi Washington Debuts 'Street Fighter Mas' video

“Lavish, portentous, aware of its political significance, Heaven and Earth also swings like crazy, and the seriousness of the endeavour never detracts from the warm-hearted way in which Washington reframes jazz history for both neophytes and connoisseurs” - MOJO

Groundbreaking artist Kamasi Washington debuts the A.G. Rojas-directed video for “Street Fighter Mas” today—watch it here. The video includes cameos by famed Street Fighter legends Gootecks and Combofiend and one of Washington’s Los Angles heroes—Kevin Gilliam a.k.a. BattleCat, a longtime collaborator of Dr. Dre, Snoop and Tupac Shakur. The video was inspired by Washington’s love of the Street Fighter video game and depicts Washington’s adventure through Los Angeles en route to an epic battle to claim the title of champion against Combofiend. Rojas and Washington previously collaborated on a short film titled “Truth” for Washington’s 2017 EP Harmony of Difference.

Talking about the “Street Fighter Mas” video, A.G. Rojas says:

“I love inhabiting Kamasi's world, and Street Fighter Mas was an opportunity to take a left turn and explore the surreal qualities of that world. When Kamasi told me the background of the song, how Street Fighter was a safe space for him - it took me back to the supermarket down the street from my childhood home where my brother and I would try and get in as many games before our mother was finished shopping. It was a true labor of love for everyone involved, coming from a desire to interpret the cinematic qualities of the track into something equally unpredictable, familiar, absurd, and ultimately triumphant."

Washington’s immensely anticipated second album Heaven and Earth is out this Friday, June 22 via Young Turks (Records).

In celebration of the release, Washington will play a very intimate hometown show at The World Stage in Los Angeles—the historic Leimert Park venue where he has been performing since his teens—this Thursday, June 21.

The show will be streamed through Kamasi’s Facebook and on Boiler Room.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Album Release - DOG - No Dogs Allowed (Rattle Records)

Dog - aka Roger Manins (sax), Kevin Field (Piano) Olivier Holland (Bass) and Ron Samson (Drums) have released their second album of contemporary jazz.  In a haphazard display of performance and humour, they played some of the new tunes at Wellington's Rogue & Vagabond this morning to a full lunchtime crowd.  Photos by Tim Gruar.

Saturday, June 09, 2018


Rogue Classic Albums Live: I’m Movin’ On

A Homage to Jimmy Smith's 1963 Blue Note classic

Organist Chris Yeabsley (Twinset) and his band present Jimmy Smith's I’m Movin’ On live as Rogue & Vagabond hosts four nights of classic albums played live by top local musicians.

Tonight from 10PM

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Jazz at the Rogue & Vagabond

Once again Rogue coming atcha with our classic album series for Wellington Jazz Festival, featuring some of our favourite local musicians playing some of their favourite classic Jazz albums in their entirety (as well as a couple of very special late night and early morning performances thrown in)
Wednesday 6th:
Early Jazz at 5pm with Bruce Forman, Larry Koonse and Tom Warrington
Rogue Piano Lounge with Dayle Jellyman from 7
Thursday 7th:
Rogue Classic Albums Live - Question and Answer w/ Callum Jephson Allardice
Rogue Classic Albums Live - Black Saint and the Sinner Lady w/ Jake Baxendale Music
Friday 8th:
Rogue Classic Albums Live - Boss Tenors w/ Baron Oscar Lavën
Rogue Classic Albums Live - Karma w/ Blair Latham
Saturday 9th:
Roger Manins GRG67 Album Launch 'The Thing'
Rogue Classic Albums Live - I'm Movin' On w/ Christopher Yeabsley
Rogue Classic Albums Live - Thrust w/ Daniel Hayles
Sunday 10th:
Rogue Classic Albums Live - Crescent w/Rick Cranson
Rogue Classic Albums Live - Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley w/ Bryn van Vliet


The winners of the Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Artist and the APRA Best Jazz Composition were announced tonight at an awards event ahead of the opening of the Wellington Jazz Festival.

Umar Zakaria was awarded Best Jazz Artist for Fearless Music and the Best Jazz Composition was awarded to Anita Schwabe for ‘Springtide’.

Umar’s career is exciting to follow.  At just 25-years-old, Umar has already performed internationally with jazz legends like Bob Moses (US), Hagai Bilitzky (Israel), Rob van Bavel (Netherlands), Snorre Kirk (Denmark), Magnus Hjorth (Sweden), Steve Barry, and Mark Lockett, among others.

The album Fearless Music is a strong collection of tracks recorded in collaboration with some of New Zealand’s top jazz musicians.

Recorded Music NZ CEO Damian Vaughan says Fearless Music is an exceptional record, and Umar is well deserving of the Best Jazz Artist Tui.

“It will be fascinating to see where his career takes him – both here in New Zealand and overseas. I feel like he’s just getting started.”

The APRA Best Jazz Composition was awarded to Anita Schwabe for ‘Springtide’ off her 2018 album Eat Your Greens.

Anita is a jazz pianist and composer who has been a lecturer at the jazz school in Wellington since 1995, who has an impressive resume of live shows including major New Zealand festivals and international venues such as Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

APRA AMCOS Head of New Zealand Operations Ant Healey says: “It’s important for us to be able to celebrate the wonderful work of jazz composers in New Zealand, and to witness the strength and breadth of talent in this community as we come together for the NZ Jazz Awards. Anita has been a well-respected jazz musician and composer for many years, and we’re delighted to see this award go to ‘Springtide’, which is a great reflection of her artistry.”

Anita will be performing her new album at the Wellington Jazz Festival on 8 June as part of the free Jazz at St Peter’s programme.

Other finalists for the Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Artist were Hayden Chisholm, Norman Meehan, and Paul Dyne for Unwind and Lucien Johnson for West of the Sun.

Callum Allardice for ‘A Gathering’, and Jake Baxendale for ‘Beyond The Palace’ were the other finalists for the APRA Best Jazz Composition.

The awards were announced at the opening night of the Wellington Jazz Festival, which runs from Wednesday 6 through to Sunday 10 June, and features around 150 gigs with local and international jazz performers throughout the week.

Finalists for Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Artist

Winner: Umar Zakaria – Fearless Music
Hayden Chisholm, Norman Meehan and Paul Dyne – Unwind
Lucien Johnson – West of the Sun
Finalists for APRA Best Jazz Composition

Winner: Anita Schwabe – ‘Springtide’
Callum Allardice – ‘A Gathering’
Jake Baxendale – ‘Beyond The Palace’

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The 2018 Wellington Jazz Festival is on!

The Wellington Jazz Festival kicks off today, with an impressive array of international stars and home-grown jazz talent bringing their smooth grooves and cool beats to the city’s streets, bars and venues. 

Shelagh Magadza, Artistic Director of Wellington Jazz Festival, says that with around 150 gigs packed into the next five days, music lovers will be spoilt for choice - with many gigs that are either free or under $20 in the mix.
“Whether you’re seeing international stars Christian McBride, Chris Daveor Gretchen Parlato at the Opera House or enjoying some of the free gigs at Rogue & Vagabond, Te Papa or St Peter’s on Willis, the Jazz Festival is a mid-winter treat. Book tickets now to ensure you get to see some of the best acts on offer - but also make time for spontaneous late-night fun over the next week.” Shelagh said.
Performing with his ensemble New Jawn, Newport Jazz Festival director and renowned bassist Christian McBride will open the Jazz Festival with his anticipated one-off show at the Opera House tonight. Also on opening night, Ed Zuccollo will perform his magical soundscapes at Meow, while saxophonist Oscar Lavën takes to the stage at Moon in Newtown with his trio. Night owls in need of a post-show jazz fix should head to Meow to enjoy Jake Baxendale and the Jam for their late-night session. 
Thursday brings five-time Grammy Award nominee, guitarist Robben Ford to the Opera House stage, where he’ll be joined by American rock-soul singer Lydia Pense. Over at Civic Square, City Gallery will hold a special jazz-flavored edition of their Tuatara Open Late series, where Nigel Patterson (Black Seeds, Fly My Pretties) will play artist Michael Parekowhai’s stunning piano sculpture He Kōrero Pūrākau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: Story of a New Zealand River before Bella Kalolo takes to the gallery stage performing with a full band. Local drummer Myele Manzanza has brought pianist Mathew Sheens all the way from New York for their two shows at Meow on Thursday and Friday evenings.
Sultry songstress Gretchen Parlato presents her superb vocal range to the Opera House on Friday night, while Caroline bar hosts award-winning composer Callum Allardice with his Quintet. Saturday features one of biggest highlights of the Festival, John Beasley’s MONK’estra, a15-piece big band inspired by the musical spirit of jazz giant, Thelonious Monk. A handful of New Zealand musicians will join MONK’estra for the concert.
Free events include the family-friendly Royal New Zealand Air Force Jazz Orchestra performing takes on the Great American Songbook at Te Papa at 12pm Saturday, the Wellington Mingus Ensemble at the Southern Cross on Saturday evening, a round table discussion about gender and jazz in Aotearoa at The Third Eye on Friday, a pop-up jazz band at Wellington Airport, and a late-night DJ session with Martyn Pepperell at Meow on Saturday.
A collaborator with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, D’Angelo and Adele to name a few, Chris “Daddy” Dave has been called the “most dangerous drummer alive”, and audiences will find out why when Chris and The Drumhedz take over the Opera House on Sunday night to conclude the Wellington Jazz Festival in style. 
About the 2018 Wellington Jazz Festival
The Wellington Jazz Festival runs 6–10 June 2018
Around 150 gigs take place over five days at 45 venues
The Jazz Festival draws a national audience of around 30,000 music fans
The Jazz Festival is home to the New Zealand Jazz Awards, with the winners announced tonight, Wednesday 6 June

Friday, May 18, 2018


The Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Artist and the APRA Best Jazz Composition awards will be presented on the opening night of the Wellington Jazz Festival, Wednesday 6 June.

This year there is an eclectic collection of finalists up for the jazz Tui. Hayden Chisholm, Norman Meehan,and Paul Dyne have been nominated for Unwind, alongside Lucien Johnson for West of the Sun, and Umar Zakaria for Fearless Music.

The finalists for Best Jazz Composition are Callum Allardice for A Gathering, Anita Schwabe for Springtide, and Jake Baxendale for Beyond The Palace.

Chisholm, Meehan and Dyne are well established musicians, composers, and music educators in New Zealand. Having worked with each other in various contexts over many decades, the album Unwind is their first outing as a trio.

Recorded at the end of Chisholm's New Zealand tour in November 2016, Unwind features a set of beautiful original compositions. The exquisite saxophone playing is front and centre, but it is the intuitive musicality of this highly experienced trio that makes the album an incredible experience.

Wellington-based saxophonist and composer Lucien Johnson has been nominated for the 2018 Best Jazz Artist for his 2017 release West of the Sun.

Composing and performing with his six-piece jazz ensemble, Johnson has worked on a number of pieces for various media – including compositions for film, television, dance, theatre and installations. He’s also had regular collaborations with New Zealand dance theatre company Borderline Arts Ensemble.

One of New Zealand’s most exciting young jazz musicians is Umar Zakaria. The album Fearless Music has been created by his own diverse musical traditions in collaboration with New Zealand’s top jazz musicians.

Zakaria’s career has taken him across the globe to perform with jazz legends like Bob Moses (US), Hagai Bilitzky (Israel), Rob van Bavel (Netherlands), Snorre Kirk (Denmark), Magnus Hjorth (Sweden), Steve Barry, and Mark Lockett, among others.

Recorded Music CEO Damian Vaughan said the finalists for Best Jazz Artist this year have created diverse, refreshing pieces of music.

“The wide range of experience from the finalists this year emerges through their unique jazz styles and compositions. It will be an unmissable New Zealand Jazz Awards, and a great Wellington Jazz Festival this year.”

The APRA Best Jazz Composition will also be announced at the awards. Since launching in 2016, the award recognises New Zealand’s top jazz compositions from the last 12 months.

With a career starting at the young age of 15, Callum Allardice created his own jazz group and began gigging around the Nelson area, as well as participating in various festivals and competitions.

Now, after winning Best Jazz Composition last year for Deep Thought, Callum is back in 2018 as a finalist for his composition A Gathering, which he composed for the 2017 Wellington Jazz Festival’s collaboration with South Korean ensemble, Black String.

Professional jazz musician and teacher Anita Schwabe is also nominated for her composition Springtide, which will feature on her debut album Eat Your Greens set to be released in 2018.

Over the years, Anita has performed with her own groups and other jazz combos at major New Zealand festivals, as well as internationally at the Vanuatu Jazz Festival and Claude Bolling’s Suite crossover of Classical Guitar and Jazz with Matthew Marshall, Paul Dyne and Roger Sellers in New Caledonia. Anita will be performing at the 2018 Wellington Jazz Festival.

Wellington-based alto saxophonist and composer Jake Baxendale has been hard at work establishing Jazz Aotearoa, a professional association that represents jazz creators, presenters, educators and audiences in New Zealand. Jake was also instrumental in the 2017 Jazz Festival collaboration with Black String.

He’s nominated for the 2018 Best Jazz Composition award for his piece Beyond The Palace.

APRA AMCOS head of NZ Operations Anthony Healy says: “Every year we celebrate the talent of New Zealand’s jazz composers at the Wellington Jazz Festival. It’s a sign that musicians from all walks of life can create spectacular art for us to enjoy.”

The winner of both the Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Album and APRA Best Jazz Composition will be announced at an invite only event to kick off the Wellington Jazz Festival, which runs from Wednesday 6 June to Sunday 10 June and features hundreds of local and international jazz performers.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

2018 Wellington Jazz Festival 6 – 10 Jun 2018

From a sold-out Opera House crowd, to a bar-hopping night for two, get into the city’s lively local music scene and treat yourself to a Wellington weekend to remember.
Find your jazz groove as incredible live music and good times fill the city’s streets and bars at this annual musical feast. With more than 100 gigs in five days to choose from, your favourite mid-winter break starts here.

 Check out this year's headlining acts:
Christian McBride’s New Jawn | USAFeaturing Josh Evans, Marcus Strickland & Nasheet Waits. Enjoy this six-time Grammy Award–winning musician and US bass master’s hot new quartet, in New Zealand for the first time.

Chris Dave and The Drumhedz | USAJoin one of Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest drummers of all time on a mind-blowing rhythmic journey through the freshest, beat-laden jams.

Gretchen Parlato Flor | USA
Featuring Marcel Camargo, Leo Costa & Artyom Manukian. Be seduced by the incredible range of style and emotion of this acclaimed, Grammy Award-nominated vocalist.

John Beasley’s MONK’estra | USASmashingly off-beat melody, humour, beauty and swing abound in this hippest of big bands, capturing the spirit of Thelonious Monk.

Robben Ford & Lydia Pense | USARock out to a gala performance of pure musical heart and soul with guitar great Robben Ford and vocal powerhouse Lydia Pense.

Marsden, Medlyn & Fox | NZBlues legend Midge Marsden and jazz diva Helen Medlyn whip up a storm with the Roger Fox Big Band.
for more info check out the full programme at:

Saturday, May 05, 2018

New Exhibition for NZ Music Month - Wellington Museum: Burning Up Years: Aotearoa Music History is an exhibition celebrating Kiwi music of the past.

Burning Up Years: Aotearoa Music History is an exhibition celebrating Kiwi music of the past. 
This NZ Music Month we’re celebrating some of the gems of Aotearoa music history with a special exhibition at Wellington Museum.
In collaboration with Audio Culture this exhibition will run during the month of May showcasing the Wellington music scene from 1960 – 1978, with New Zealand-made music equipment, music videos, listening posts, rare vinyl, posters and album art.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Whittaker's and Being. Create Beats You Can Eat

In honour of NZ Music Month (May), Whittaker's have joined forces with up-and-coming Kiwi musician/songwriter Jasmine Balmer, also known as BEING., to create New Zealand's first edible record made of Whittaker's chocolate.

As New Zealand's Most Trusted Brand, Whittaker's is pleased to be part of celebrating our home-grown talent and creative spirit with a chocolate record that tastes as sweet as it sounds.

BEING's Jasmine Balmer, who contributed her new single Fold Into The Sea, says she was hooked by the innovative concept and is honoured to partner with Whittaker's as a much-loved local brand.

"When Whittaker's originally asked me to be involved, they sent through a teaser video of their prototype and I got goose-bumps! I honestly didn't think it was possible to produce a working record made entirely out of chocolate, but Whittaker's have done it!" says Ms Balmer.

Whittaker's Marketing Manager, Jasmine Currie, says the process to create a chocolate record that successfully plays good quality music took months to perfect.

"We used melted Dark Ghana Chocolate which we then poured into a record-shaped mould. The key was to get the tempering of the melted chocolate just right, which we achieved after a lot of trial and error.

"We think the end result is a great-sounding record that has the warm quality of vinyl - maybe a little scratchier but inherently a lot sweeter nevertheless," says Ms Currie.

What does a real chocolate record sound like? Find out here: