FRANCES CHAN reviews an Auckland gig that put classic jazz in a setting that brought out the best of players both young and uh… legacy.
Hard bop heaven! The appreciative Tuning Fork crowd was transported to a hep uptown NYC jazz club when Auckland’s own NewBop Quintet performed last night.
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By embracing, respecting and studying this definitive era born out of mid-1950s African-American jazz, the five-piece set a groovy head-nodding tone with much-loved classics and originals.
Opening with Miles Davis’s ‘So What’ (1959), you can really hear the bluesy influences of the genre as a progression from the frenetic tempos of 1940s bebop. Another highlight was Monk’s ‘Straight, No Chaser’, a 12-bar blues given a Latinesque feel with the use of toms by the legendary Frank Gibson Jr. Give it up for 75-year-old Frank! We are blessed that he has been a stalwart of the NZ jazz scene ever since forming the fusion band Dr Tree in 1977.
Accompanying Frank was the skilful Mike Booth on trumpet, Pete France on tenor saxophone, Kevin Field on piano and young buck Wil Goodinson on double bass. The rhythm and blues motifs were in capable hands with Mike and Pete interchanging solos, and I particularly loved Kevin’s fluid and funky improvs that feverishly rattled his electric Kawai on its X-stand (especially on “Speak No Evil”). A composer in his own right, Wil held his millennial own with confident playing and some deft solo touches.
Raconteur Mike likes a yarn and kept the banter humble and humorous, praising Frank’s celebrated status to a deserved degree, and explaining the inspired title for his tune written during lockdown: “It’s called ‘Lockdown’.”
Two other originals written in the spirit of hard bop slotted in nicely with the repertoire, namely ‘3 Up 3 Down’ by their usual bassist Cam McArthur and Frank’s ‘Beaver Fever’, which he began with a percussive flourish.
NewBop was created in 2019 by jazz devotee and industry champion David Innes and Terence O’Neill-Joyce (of Ode Records), who wanted to assemble top-notch T?maki Makaurau musicians to keep the hard bop vibe alive.
This collaboration has now spawned a 12-track self-titled album released in June a few days before their appearance at the Wellington Jazz Festival, featuring four originals and quintessential pieces such as ‘Green Dolphin Street’, ‘Round Midnight’ and ‘Soul Eyes’.
You can listen to your treasured Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Cannonball Adderley LPs whenever you want but if you can sit in sophisticated pleasure in front of live musicians saluting the sounds of hard bop, it’s a night out to savour. NewBop has announced a show at the Creative Jazz Club, Anthology on K Rd on 23 June, so there’s no excuse now.
The Rachel Clarke Trio also impressed as support act. These Auckland University jazz graduates have the chops on vocals, guitar (Alex Pipes) and double bass (Hank Trenton). Trios work wonderfully well to showcase each instrument clearly and even with a regular choice of standards, their assured playing and synergy was a nice surprise. Rachel’s pipes got a full workout with her creative improvised scat, including a beautiful arrangement of ‘Summertime’. Next-gen talent to watch out for around town.
- So What
- 3 Up 3 Down
- Beaver Fever
- Speak No Evil
- Straight, No Chaser
- Soy Califa
Photos by Frances Chan, Dom Nola and Merrin McCreadie.