The mu­sic man from Mana

Kapi-Mana News - - FEATURE -

band. Jazz gui­tarist Mike Stern was part of the 40th an­niver­sary tour in 2013. He’s a fan­tas­tic player and a re­ally nice guy who sup­ported what we were do­ing. One thing I’ve achieved with the big band is build­ing the sup­port of high-pro­file mu­si­cians.

Any per­for­mances stand out?

When I took the Rodger Fox Big Band to Mon­treux Jazz Fes­ti­val in Switzer­land in 1980. That was the big­gest fes­ti­val in Europe around that time. We were the first New Zealand jazz band to be in­vited. The band played well. There was a good record­ing made and it showed off New Zealand mu­sic, which we played. Most peo­ple didn’t know where New Zealand was in 1980.

What are your hopes for the fu­ture of the band and New Zealand jazz in gen­eral?

My long-term goal is to have a full­time New Zealand big band along the same lines as the New Zealand Sym­phony Orches­tra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and New Zealand Opera. It’s a bit rad­i­cal think­ing. Why isn’t there one yet? Clas­si­cal mu­sic has been funded heav­ily for many years and it’s one of those things that’s kept go­ing. I’m seek­ing ad­vice from Cre­ative New Zealand, the Min­istry for Cul­ture and Her­itage and oth­ers to make the pro­posal work­able. There’s a lot of peo­ple in­ter­ested in the mu­sic. There’s three uni­ver­sity cour­ses, 100 jazz bands in schools and seven or eight ma­jor jazz events through­out the year in New Zealand. But this style of mu­sic has al­ways been un­der­funded. The time has come when it needs to change.

What shows do you have com­ing up?

I’m do­ing a se­ries of con­certs with Michael Hous­toun, the clas­si­cal pi­ano artist, play­ing some clas­si­cal genre in a big band style with ar­range­ments by Amer­i­can com­poser Bill Cun­liffe. The first per­for­mance is at the Tau­ranga Jazz Fes­ti­val on April 5. Then we’ll come back and spend four days in the record­ing stu­dio. I’ll be play­ing in the Ex­pres­sions Jazz Fes­ti­val in Up­per Hutt on May 29, then the Manawatu Jazz Fes­ti­val the next day. I’m mu­si­cal direc­tor for both. The main con­cert is the Welling­ton Jazz Fes­ti­val at the Opera House on June 7.

that

Photo: FAIR­FAX

Rodger Fox: ‘‘I was pretty novel, be­ing a trom­bone player in a rock band.’’

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