All that jazz for so long

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

A can-do at­ti­tude has sus­tained jazz le­gend Rodger Fox through his 40-year ca­reer.

Ti­tahi Bay-raised Fox, 60, is be­ing hon­oured this Sun­day with a trib­ute con­cert at West­pac Sta­dium.

‘‘I’ve joined the ranks of the es­tab­lished,’’ Fox jokes. ‘‘ A lot of peo­ple didn’t think I’d get to 30 or 40, let alone 60.’’

Fox be­gan his ca­reer play­ing trom­bone in the Mana Col­lege con­cert band, run by his fa­ther Louis, and later his mother Betty.

He in­her­ited both his love of his mu­sic and his do-it-your­self at­ti­tude from his par­ents. Louis founded what is now the Porirua City Brass Band when he tired of trav­el­ling with a dozen mu­si­cians to per­form with the near­est brass band in Lower Hutt.

‘‘I come from a fam­ily of peo­ple who are like ‘ bug­ger it, I’ll do it my­self,’’ Fox says.

In 1973, a 20-year-old Fox set up a young band to chal­lenge Welling­ton’s dom­i­nant and es­tab­lished jazz mu­si­cians, and the Rodger Fox Big Band has taken a bold DIY at­ti­tude ever since.

In 1980, band mem­bers raised $60,000 to be­come the first Kiwi band to at­tend the pres­ti­gious Mon­treux jazz fes­ti­val in Switzer­land.

Fox has in­vited dozens

of fa­mous jazz per­form­ers to New Zealand, in­clud­ing sax­o­phon­ist Michael Brecker a decade ago. ‘‘That was such a coup. He was one of the big­gest names in the jazz sax­o­phone scene. There was no­body else,’’ Fox says.

Last year the band recorded its 36th al­bum at the famed Capi­tol Stu­dios in Los An­ge­les, and plan to record at Lon­don’s Abbey Road.

An­other up­com­ing project for the in­de­fati­ga­ble Fox is set­ting up a na­tional jazz band, equiv­a­lent to the NZSO.

Trib­ute to Rodger Fox con­cert, Sun­day March 17 at 5.30pm, West­pac Sta­dium level 4. Tick­ets $27/$10 from www.eventfinder.co.nz or Gra­ham Kelly, 234 825.

Jazzy at­ti­tude: Ti­tahi Bay-raised Rodger Fox’s en­ergy and DIY spirit have shaped New Zealand’s jazz scene over 40 years.

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