Singer at LA’s Uni­ver­sal

Manawatu Guardian - - STEPPING OUT -

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.

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