Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Jasmine Lovell-Smith Quintet at Rogue and Vagabond

Jasmine Lovell-Smith (ss) Jake Baxendale (as/b.cl) Daniel Hayles (p) Emma Hattaway (b) Cory Champion (d) 

It seemed like it had been quite a while since I had heard Jasmine play (Noveltones aside), I think the last time was a quartet gig during the festival last year... or maybe a gig at the Southern Cross. I forget, but it had been a while. I wasn't too sure if Jake would be the right fit, but the more notey contrast grew on me. He’s more melodic/lyrical on bass clarinet (less chops!) and that made for a change in pace too. Sonically, I find the pairing of bass clarinet and soprano really works (Jasmine used this on her album Yellow Red Blue). It's not a line up you encounter often, and I'd be happy to hear more (recommendations welcome!). I was looking forward to hearing Cory with this group as I hadn't heard him playing Jasmine’s music before - he was a great fit. Should I be surprised?.... not really, as Cory always brings something to the music. The live sound was more amplified than when Chris is on the desk, but the balance was pretty good if a bit bright sounding (especially piano and bass clarinet). 

The volume got louder in the second set and I wasn’t digging the sound as much. Then I noticed he had moved from nearer the stage back to the desk.  Surprise surprise... it was much better near the desk. And then when he moved nearer the front the levels dropped a bit. The downside of a sound guy roaming with an iPad (set them and leave them!). I minor complaint. On the upside, there was a decent crowd in and they were listening.

New Zealand Music Month


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Greg Malcolm & Lucien Johnson at Pyramid Club

Pyramid Club
 Nice to get out two nights in a row and hear some quality music., albeit very different. Pyramid Club was the scene for Friday night for two sets by guitarist Greg Malcolm - joined by Lucien Johnson's soprano saxophone for the second set. There was a healthy crowd without it being totally packed. It would have been nice to see a few more of the jazz crowd there, but I wasn't surprised that they weren't (benefit of the doubt.... maybe they all had gigs). I was particularly keen to hear the second set as it featured pieces by Steve Lacy (Greg's album Leather and Lacy is worth hunting down). Greg has a unique take on Lacy - a slowed down, drone-y type thing - and it really works. Lucien has a deep understanding of Lacy's music and he easily slotted into Greg's approach. Plus, it was great hearing Lucien sticking just to soprano - I can't remember the last time I heard that.... if ever, and I really enjoy his soprano playing. His tone has great clarity without getting bright or thin. He also created some sounds on a mystery box that I don't really know what it was!

Steve Lacy

New Zealand Jazz

Steve Lacy


Friday, April 16, 2021

The Woods at Lovebite

On Thursday night the Wellington Jazz Co-operative presented The Woods at Lovebite. The room was full and the band was on form. Sometimes you can just tell things are going to click, and right from the start Rick Cranson had a spark in his playing that lit the fire that burned all evening (well, the two sets…who know, maybe there’ll still on fire). Sometimes it got a little loud, but I’ll let that slide on this occasion. I haven’t heard The Woods sound better. I’ve been pretty selective as to the Wellington Jazz Co-operative gigs I attend. This was my first since Third Eye closed and they started presenting concerts at Lovebite. It’s a small space, but a good vibe.

Wellington Jazz Cooperative


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Devil's Gate Outfit at Meow

Devil's Gate Outfit

 Okay, I’ve been dragging the chain with this post… but here we are……. finally. Devil’s Gate Outfit played at Meow every Wednesday in March. I got along 4 weeks out of 5. Anthony Donaldson (d) Tom Callwood (bass) Dan Beban (g) Cory Champion (vibes/percussion), Steve Roche (trumpet/euphonium/electronics) David Donaldson (percussion/stringed instruments (not sure what they are!) Blair Latham (as/ts/b.cl) And Johnny Marks (vocals/percussion) subbed for Dan one night (and did a great job). It was great to hear how things developed and shifted over those weeks, particularly as I became more familiar with the tunes. The live sound was some of the best I had heard at Meow (it can be pretty hit and miss there… usually everything is over-amplified). The most disappointing thing was the audience. Some weeks it was pretty quiet in there, but the final night had a pretty decent crowd. Meow doesn’t seem to have the same built in crowd the way Rogue and Vagabond does.


Devil's Gate Outfit

Devil's Gate Outfit

Devil's Gate Outfit

Monday, April 12, 2021

Sunday at Rogue and Newtown Festival

Sunday evening began at Rogue and Vagabond to hear the Aleister James Campbell Quartet with Lucien Johnson (ts/ss) Paul Dyne (b) John Rae (d). There was a smaller crowd (but attentive) than a typical Sunday (no doubt due to Newtown Festival). I'm looking forward to catching Lucien again later in the week.

New Zealand Jazz
I couldn’t really be bothered dealing with the Newtown Festival crowds during the day so I was glad that Cory Champion’s ‘Clear Path Ensemble’ was performing later in the night. It was nice to get down to the old ‘hood again – I haven’t spent much time down there since moving into the city. It seemed that technical issues had delayed the previous band and the Clear Path Ensemble set seemed pretty short as a result (30 mins max). I was a little disappointed that they were sans horns but I’m sure festival budgets was a factor in stripping things back a bit. People still dug it though.

Newtown Festival

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Swagman at Moon

 Just found this photo of Swagman playing at Moon in Newtown back at the start of February. Better late than never I guess. My first time hearing them somewhere other than RSC. Different vibe to the night, with more amplification and effects, and none of the RSC locals.

Joe Callwood Guitar

Monday, March 15, 2021

Lily Shaw Quartet at Rogue and Vagabond

Lily Shaw (tenor sax/flute/vocals) Hector McLachlan (p) Phoebe Johnson (b) Cory Champion (d)

New Zealand Jazz
Really decent turnout and nice to see lots of people actually paying attention to the music (not always the case at Rogue and Vagabond). I don’t recall having heard Lily in the past. Nice tone and quite a melodic player. It was a bit noisy to be able to focus on the lyrics but some of them grabbed my ear. A little more melodic/harmonic tension from the sax and piano would have been nice. But perhaps that would have distracted from the relaxed Sunday afternoon vibes. As usual, Cory’s drumming was a standout. Based on age, instruments in tow, and that they were nursing half a glass of water throughout the evening, I noticed plenty of what I assumed to be students from the music school. No cover and no minimum - I don’t think they realize how lucky they are. You’d expect to see at more gigs than I do. A new intake will just be kicking off so maybe they will get out more.
New Zealand Jazz