Jazz mu­si­cian plays in a dif­fer­ent Key on al­bum

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

When you hear the name John Key, mu­sic doesn’t usu­ally spring to mind.

Un­less you’re think­ing of Mt Roskill mu­si­cian John Key, who has just re­leased a new al­bum with his band Strange Fruit.

With the elec­tion to­mor­row, he’s mak­ing good use of shar­ing a name with the Na­tional Party leader.

The tag-line on posters for his al­bum Whole is “John Key says vote with your ears”.

The third al­bum from Strange Fruit has been 10 years in the mak­ing.

In­spi­ra­tion struck while Mr Key was swim­ming on Wai­heke Is­land.

“I thought, it isn’t go­ing to hap­pen on its own.”

The band mem­bers don’t work to­gether very of­ten be­cause they are busy teach­ing and play­ing mu­sic with other peo­ple, he says.

“When we do work to­gether, we have a thor­oughly good time.”

Mr Key teaches jazz pi­ano, and has been play­ing for 25 years.

His mu­si­cal ca­reer goes back four decades, which he points out is much longer than his coun­ter­part’s po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

He won’t be vot­ing Na­tional in the up­com­ing elec­tion, but hasn’t de­cided who will win his party vote.

“I must ad­mit I’m fond of Phil Goff. He’s very hard­work­ing and should be the next prime min­is­ter. He speaks well and never gets in any trou­ble. “He’s a good lo­cal MP.” So far he hasn’t seen any party’s arts poli­cies, which will show how they in­tend to look af­ter the “spir­i­tual health” of the coun­try.

If it were up to him, he would see more Kiwi art ex­ported.

“Ex­port­ing art means ex­port dol­lars. A coun­try is re­mem­bered and recog­nised by its cul­ture, not by pol­i­tics in the long term.”

Mu­si­cian Mr Key says he has no po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions and never dreamed of lead­ing the coun­try.

And politi­cian Mr Key says he doesn’t share his name­sake’s tal­ent for mu­sic.

“I’m one of the least mu­si­cal peo­ple you’ll find. I can’t sing to save my­self.”

The two crossed paths briefly about 20 years ago when Mr Key was play­ing mu­sic as part of the John Key Trio at a Welling­ton ho­tel.

The fu­ture politi­cian had seen the band ad­ver­tised and went along to lis­ten and ex­change busi­ness cards.

“He was a re­ally nice guy and an ac­com­plished mu­si­cian,” he says.

The Na­tional leader says the party’s pol­icy would main­tain the level of sup­port for the arts and sup­port Kiwi mu­sic.

But Mt Roskill’s Mr Key hopes peo­ple will fo­cus on his mu­sic. “I’m the John Key they should be lis­ten­ing to.”

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Dou­ble trou­ble: Mu­si­cian John Key is launch­ing a new al­bum while politi­cian John Key is hop­ing to lead the coun­try.

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