Tuesday, June 06, 2017

New Zealand Jazz Awards - 2017 Winners announced this Sunday

The New Zealand Jazz Awards will be held this Sunday afternoon.  The nominees are:

Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Album 2017 Finalists:

East West Moon by Jonathan Crayford
Teaming up once more with the same killer rhythm section on the critically acclaimed Dark Light (2014), Jonathan Crayford returns with another beautiful album. Recording again with engineer Mike Marciano at Systems Two Studio in New York, East West Moon takes the concentrated minimalism of the previous release a step further, this time with an even greater impressionistic spaciousness.  Jonathan composed the music for East West Moon while living in Berlin. The title is a comment on enmity and commonality, with 'East-West' denoting opposing positions and boundaries, and 'Moon' denoting that which is commonly shared, unpossessed, and freely available.  "It's a marriage of two hemispheres," says Jonathan. "East-West refers to the vast differences we think we see and feel between each other, our different cultures and approaches to living. We are perpetually in conflict over our take on life and someone else's. We form groups, and we want to be identified with the group, but we also want to be individuals. We look out at other groups and say 'Oh, that's a different group, but I'm not part of that, I'm in this group'. But we also see ourselves as 'different' from others in our group, so we have this perpetual fight with who or what we think we are and what we are becoming, which is always in change. Berlin is still haunted by the separation of 'east' and 'west'. People still live with the residue of that in their lives, which I found quite surprising."
"The moon has been meaningful for me for years, as it is for all of us. We can all be different, but we all share the moon. We all share the need to breathe. Instead of holding fast to our presuppositions, we need to look beyond philosophic intransigence and formulate a way forward that is devoid of conflict."

”On this album I tried to dig deep. If you’re not facing your own vulnerability, fragility, and bullshit, then you’re not really writing. It’s a bit like, if you haven’t fallen off a bike then you haven’t really ridden. I put so much work into these pieces, and it was hard some mornings to face another day of self-doubt, but that’s what it takes – those are the depths, but of course you also have wonderful heights. The pieces on this album are all about being alone – we share that aloneness, but we experience it alone.”

Vicissitudes by Mike Nock Trio & NZ Trio

Mike Nock (ONZM) is an internationally recognised master of jazz. His trio, with Christchurch-born bassist Brett Hirst and Australian drummer James Waples, is one of the top modern jazz groups in Australasia. NZTrio is New Zealand’s leading piano trio, and one of the finest in the southern hemisphere. Their innovative repertoire features dynamic and inspired interpretations of both traditional and contemporary classical music, as their critically acclaimed recordings for Rattle brilliantly attest.  Vicissitudes came about after Philip Tremewan (Director of the Christchurch Arts Festival) suggested to Mike Nock that he write a piece for two trios using a set of variations to show the different approaches each group might bring to the same piece of music. Mike wrote the piece as a way of offering something positive to the people of Christchurch in recognition of the extreme difficulties they’ve had to deal with in the wake of the devastating earthquake of 2011. The idea was to combine the disparate worlds of jazz and classical music to show the strength of the human spirit when faced with seemingly overwhelming obstacles.

“Over many years working together,” says Mike, “my trio has developed a largely intuitive approach to making music, so performing with NZTrio presents a very different musical dynamic. Improvisation is central to my trio's role, as this is where we do our best work, so a large part of the enjoyment and interest for all six players is to explore the musical opportunities we discover when rehearsing and performing the piece”.

OnePointOne by Myele Manzanza
Recorded live at the legendary Blue Whale in Los Angeles. The son of a Congolese master percussionist, New Zealand born Myele first gained international attention as one third of NZ soul act, Electric Wire Hustle. After six years of performing, recording and touring with the band that he formed, he left in 2013 in order to release his solo debut One (BBE).  By this time Myele had become an in-demand musician, culminating in 2014 when he joined dance music pioneer Theo Parrish as the drummer of his live outfit The Unit. As a drummer and a sideman he continues to tour internationally and collaborate with a broad range of artists including Mark de Clive-Lowe, FW label-mate Ross McHenry, Sorceress, Amp Fiddler, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Marcus Strickland, Recloose, Jordan Rakei and most recently joining Australian contemporary dance company, KAGE, in their forthcoming dance and drum based performance Out Of Earshot.

His roots in jazz and African rhythm, (as well as his childhood love of hip hop and dance music) bring a uniquely diverse take to his music. This is evident on OnePointOne, where he fuses a traditional jazz trio with a string quartet, underpinned with an undeniable hip-hop swagger. The album features the stellar talents of pianist/programmer Mark de Clive-Lowe, and the Quartetto Fantastico string quartet led by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (Suite For Ma Dukes), virtuoso bassist Ben Shepherd and guest vocalists Nia Andrews and Charlie K. The dynamic rendition of City Of Atlantis was deftly arranged by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and captured in a stunning live video by Eric Coleman of Mochilla (Timeless, Suite for Ma Dukes).

As well as live takes on some of the material from his debut album, there are covers of Theo Parrish, Jill Scott and the late, great Bobby Hutcherson, capturing an intimate performance from a fearless artist at the hub of the resurgent West Coast Jazz scene.

APRA Best Jazz Composition Award Finalists:

Deep Thought by Callum Allardice
Heralding from Motueka, Tasman Bay, is Callum Allardice, an NZSM jazz graduate who is in the running for his composition Deep Thought. The song is performed by Antipodes, a creative contemporary jazz sextet playing works by Callum, long-time collaborator and fellow jazz graduate Jake Baxendale and Australian pianist and composer, Luke Sweeting.

It's A Good Time (To Be A Man) by Bruce Brown
NZSM Artist Teacher Bruce Brown, a Los Angeles native who arrived in New Zealand in 1998, established the jazz vocal programme which is now part of the New Zealand School of Music. His composition It’s A Good Time (To Be A Man) was recorded and performed by the Bruce Brown Quintet.




Familia by Jasmine Lovell-Smith
The last finalist is saxophonist/composer and current NZSM DMA student Jasmine Lovell-Smith who has recently returned to live in Wellington after spending seven years in the USA and Mexico, where she taught jazz studies and the saxophone at the State University. Her composition Familia contains elements from both here and abroad.




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