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 – firstname.lastname@example.org with an extra $5 for postage.
Celebrated and award-winning jazz musician Kevin Clark has released a book of his experiences, antics and escapades.