Behind the scenes of jazz
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 news.co.nz and click Latest Edition to watch an interview with Richard Adams. Nairobi Trio also perform.