Thursday, June 01, 2017

NZ Music Month: Root 70 - Luxury Habits

Root 70: Luxury Habits (nWog Records)
Nils Wogram (trb) Hayden Chisholm (as) Matt Penman (b) Jochen Rueckert (d)

The latest album from one of my favorite groups arrived in the mail last week. Luxury Habits is the 8th album by Root 70 (9th if you include Heaps Dub… but that’s a different thing really).
NZ Music Month New Zealand Jazz

As far as contemporary jazz groups (i.e. active during my time) go, Root 70 is one of the two that I have listened to the most (the other being the Connie Crothers Quartet). One similarity between the two is the long-standing relationships between the members. A difference is repertoire. Whereas the CCQT drew from a relatively small body of works and recorded the same pieces on multiple occasions, Root 70 record new pieces with each album. As usual Nils takes on the bulk of the composition duties. Jochen contributes one and it very much fits the vibe of the album.

After a few themed albums based on standards (On 52 ¼ St and Wise Men Can Be Wrong), blues (Listen to Your Woman), and an album with strings (Riomar), Luxury Habits recalls some of Root 70’s earlier releases and I couldn’t help thinking of their first three albums while listening this week. I didn’t make any side-by-side comparisons but I plan to. Initial impressions are that some of the youthful exuberance has refined over the years.

There’s still plenty of energy though and the balanced ensemble sound continues to be a highlight for me. It’s all the more impressive in that they don’t play together as a unit all that often (although Matt and Jochen play together a bit in other groups), but they only come together as Root 70 a couple of times a year  - in fact they just wrapped up a tour this week. Listening to Nils and Hayden makes me realize how underutilized the trombone/alto front-line pairing is. And I'm sure I've said it before but…. the combo of Matt and Jochen is one of my favorite rhythm section pairings - a great balance between the tradition and the now (plus the Root 70 albums always seem to capture Matt’s bass sound so nicely).

There’s plenty to digest and I’m looking forward to give Luxury Habits plenty more attention.

And that wraps up NZ Music Month for 2017. I the meantime, add to the NZ jazz listening list two releases due out in June on Rattle Records -  Reuben Bradley Trio's Shark Variations and Jim Langabeer's Secret Islands (it's rare these days that someone is under-recorded, but Jim definitely is!). And for those wanting more from Hayden, the second Slowfox album has just been released. 

You can read previous NZ Music Month posts here: C.L. Bob and Bleakley/Crayford/Donaldson and Lucien Johnson.
New Zealand Jazz

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