Be­hind the scenes of jazz

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

JAZZ vi­o­lin­ist Richard Adams is well-at­tuned to the fickle mu­sic in­dus­try’s high and low notes.

Af­ter more than two decades on the road as the front­man for jazz out­fit Nairobi Trio, the Pon­sonby mu­si­cian seems more than qual­i­fied to take to the stage as a tal­ented fid­dle player in a new mu­si­cal.

Mr Adams will star along­side in­ter­na­tional mu­sic guru Ash Abram in the world pre­miere of The Six­pence Brothers at this month’s Wai­heke Is­land In­ter­na­tional Jazz Fes­ti­val.

The show re­veals what goes on be­hind the scenes in the mu­sic busi­ness.

The self-de­scribed mod­ern ‘‘Re­nais­sance man’’ has carved suc­cess­ful ca­reers in mu­sic, art and act­ing.

He now leaves much of the au­di­tion­ing to his young son but the mu­si­cal was a project he couldn’t turn down.

‘‘I love tread­ing the boards. It’s a very easy char­ac­ter to take on be­cause it is an ex­ten­sion of me.’’

He plays a frus­trated con­cert fid­dle player, one of three strug­gling mu­si­cian brothers who have to go on the road af­ter go­ing bank­rupt try­ing to claim the es­tate of their fa­ther, a leg­endary mu­sic pub­lisher.

The mu­si­cal touches on many of the com­i­cal re­al­i­ties of the in­dus­try.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing is in­flu­enced by some­thing else – there are only so many chords. Peo­ple steal from other peo­ple and they may be the suc­cess­ful ones but the idea’s come from some­one else.’’

Clas­si­cally trained on the vi­o­lin from an early age, it was the im­pro­vi­sa­tion of jazz that fi­nally had him hooked.

‘‘Jazz is such a live per­for­mance. You can sound OK on a record but there’s noth­ing like the per­for­mance – that’s what jazz is all about.

‘‘That moment of in­spi­ra­tion and im­pro­vi­sa­tion is the best part of be­ing a jazz mu­si­cian.’’

Mr Adams will also per- form with Nairobi Trio at the fes­ti­val. Formed in 1989, the quar­tet still tours the world and has no plans to bow out any time soon.

‘‘We’ll al­ways play to­gether. At some point in those 20 years we were play­ing more shows in a year than there were days in a year.

‘‘We don’t do as many now but this is what we do and I don’t see that chang­ing.’’

The three-day fes­ti­val has grown to in­clude an eclec­tic mix of gen­res since it re­turned to Wai­heke Is­land.

A dream to bring world­class jazz back to the is­land was the mo­ti­va­tion for fes­ti­val di­rec­tor and Nairobi Trio gui­tarist John Quigley to re­in­state the fes­ti­val in 2011 af­ter a five-year lull.

‘‘The fes­ti­val has be­come more than a jazz fes­ti­val. This is un­doubt­edly the best lineup so far.’’

The fes­ti­val runs from March 29 to 31. The Six­pence Brothers will show on March 30 and 31 from 5.15pm.


Jazz man: Nairobi Trio front­man Richard Adams is per­form­ing at the Wai­heke Is­land In­ter­na­tional Jazz Fes­ti­val in the world pre­miere of the mu­si­cal The Six­pence Brothers. Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour and click Lat­est Edi­tion to watch an in­ter­view with Richard Adams. Nairobi Trio also per­form.

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