Singer at LA’s Universal
Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and now Erna Ferry.
They’ve all recorded at the celebrated Universal Studios in Los Angeles and now Palmerston North’s Erna is immortalised on the CD Hipwalk which the supremo blues soloist recorded with the Rodger Fox Big Band last September.
The recording followed performances at the 60th Monterey Jazz Festival and gigs at San Francisco and Pasadena near Los Angeles.
There where the vibes of such luminaries as Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole and Dean Martin still resonate in the studios, the Rodger Fox Big Band with vocalist Ferry recorded for two days.
“We chose Universal Studios because they have the same vintage mikes that were used by those Hollywood greats. You can’t replicate the distinctive sound they produce,” Rodger says.
Following the recording Rodger returned twice with Erna to mix the tracks and ensure the CD had the hallmarks of a classic, benchmark jazz album.
The CD, Hipwalk, Rodger’s 31st, is the title of one of the numbers. It’s now available to buy from the Rodger Fox Big Band website.
The material selected includes highlights from the performances presented by the big band in the US.
Several are stamped with the unique sound of home. Two of the tracks are from talented New Zealand musicians, Mike Booth and Christopher Fox.
Rodger points to an arrangement of Chick Corea’s Crystal Silence, Tracey Chapman’s Give Me One Reason and Dorothy Moore’s Misty Blue played by the band with Ferry, and a Lauren Ellis arrangement of a Snarky Puppy classic.
“Erna adds the touch of distinctive class to the tracks that’s made her the preeminent blues singer in New Zealand. She ranks with Barbra, Ella and all the other singers who’ve made Universal their recording home,” Rodger says.
He’s hoping the burgeoning jazz industry in New Zealand cradled at secondary school will purchase his recording and use it as their inspiration. There are 128 big bands in the New Zealand high school system, double that of orchestras and concert bands.
In the Manawatu¯ alone, where the biggest annual jazz festival is held, there are six school bands and three long established community big bands.
Rodger has seen hundreds graduate from the New Zealand School of Music jazz programme of which he’s a senior lecturer.
Many go on to stellar groups such as The Black Seeds, Fat Freddy’s Drop and The Drax Programme, while others leave our shores.
In the meantime the Rodger Fox Big Band carries the torch.
Most of its members are NZ School of Music graduates and former and current members of staff.
“Our job is the maintain the tradition, keep the big band sound alive and relevant, continue developing jazz as the pre-eminent musical genre in New Zealand and enhance the revolution that’s happening in schools,” Rodger says.