A life in mu­sic re­called by top jazzman


A story that sticks out for Kevin Clark is dur­ing an art ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing at Pataka.

Tin­kling away on the grand pi­ano at the event, some years ago, Clark was shushed by a Ngati Toa kau­matua dur­ing speeches.

How­ever, a kuia ap­proached him and asked him why he had stopped.

When Clark ex­plained why, the woman closed the doors on the speak­ers, came back to the pi­ano and said, ‘‘Stuff that, bunch of silly old farts’’.

He launched into a re­quest for Blue­berry Hill and be­fore long, a ma­jor sing-along de­vel­oped with all of the Ngati Toa at­ten­dees at Pataka in­volved. Favourites like Ten Gui­tars and Ch­eryl Moana Marie were belted out.

This tale is just one of many in Clark’s book From the Band­stand, which was re­leased re­cently.

For­merly from South Africa, he has lived in New Zealand since 1966, and Plimmerton since 1980. An ar­chi­tect by trade, Clark has com­bined that life with one as a suc­cess­ful con­cert and record­ing jazz mu­si­cian.

He has played on the back of trucks, in com­mu­nity halls, cabarets, cof­fee bars, ‘‘dine and dance’’ restau­rants, booze barns, on ra­dio and TV, even at Par­lia­ment and Gov­ern­ment House.

Clark has recorded five al­bums and con­sid­ered a sixth to mark 60 years of com­mer­cial gigs and record­ing, but felt a book would be the best way to recog­nise the mile­stone.

‘‘I sat down and did this in two weeks,’’ he said. ‘‘The hard­est part was de­cid­ing what to leave on the cut­ting room floor.’’

Along with his views on mu­sic, the shifts in New Zealand’s so­cial his­tory and a num­ber of holy cows, Clark re­counts hi­lar­i­ous tales through­out his life.

Th­ese in­clude play­ing in a hearse, at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Na­tional Dog Obe­di­ence Tri­als in Porirua, an oc­cult-pa­gan fes­ti­val and wit­ness­ing a dancer drop dead in front of the band.

‘‘Some sto­ries are po­lite, oth­ers not so much. Some have be­come leg­end, some have grown legs of their own.

‘‘Most of them are Welling­ton­cen­tric, which peo­ple around here should en­joy.’’

At age 76, Clark said he still had some years left in him to play. While reg­u­lar out­ings at places like the Sand­bar are no more, he said play­ing mu­sic with young peo­ple kept him young.

From the Band­stand is avail­able in Unity Books and PaperPlus Porirua or from the author – kevin.clark@xtra.co.nz with an ex­tra $5 for postage.

Cel­e­brated and award-win­ning jazz mu­si­cian Kevin Clark has re­leased a book of his ex­pe­ri­ences, an­tics and es­capades.

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