All that jazz for so long
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.