The unique sound of Kevin’s 101 Lab Band

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY -

An orches­tra sounds like an orches­tra un­less it’s Kevin Down­ing’s 101 Lab Band.

Kevin’s unique Lab Band, the only one of its kind in New Zealand, can pro­duce a va­ri­ety of spe­cial ef­fects in­clud­ing the rich, lush sound of an orches­tra.

Kevin’s been teach­ing gui­tar since the 1970s, al­ways seek­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for his play­ers and about 30 years ago he saw the value of form­ing them into an en­sem­ble.

The Lab Band was born and, for the last 10 years, it’s played an im­por­tant role in the an­nual Manawatu Jazz Fes­ti­val.

The band con­sists of about 15 gui­tarists, two bass gui­tarists, a drum­mer and Kevin. Many of the mem­bers are soloists in their own right while oth­ers are ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers who en­joy the ben­e­fits of such a dis­tinc­tive en­sem­ble.

‘‘The Lab Band teaches the dis­ci­plines of play­ing to­gether, in­ter­pre­ta­tion, the abil­ity to learn parts, to fol­low the con­duc­tor and play in a pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment,’’ Kevin ex­plains.

‘‘They play four-part har­mony and bub­ble and back beat parts, the sounds that pro­vide the back­ing rhythm to the mu­sic we play.’’

Not only does the Lab Band add dif­fer­ence and colour to a fes­ti­val, Kevin sees his play­ers lift their per­for­mance to match the qual­ity of other mu­si­cians, es­pe­cially when they’re called on to back some of the world’s best jazz play­ers.

The Lab Band is a labour of love. As well as be­ing an in­spi­ra­tion for the play­ers, he con­ducts them and ar­ranges the mu­sic for their var­i­ous tal­ent lev­els. ‘‘It’s a real buzz to hear my ar­range­ments and orig­i­nal num­bers played,’’ he says. For their per­for­mance at The Globe tonight they’re joined by vo­cal­ist Amy McKenna and Johnny McCormick on sax­o­phone. Their pro­gramme in­cludes Honky Tonk with Johnny, San­tana’s Evil Ways, Hide­away, DC Blues and I’d Rather Go Blind and Still Got the Blues fea­tur­ing Amy as soloist.

When you hear Kevin’s Lab Band tonight, it’s wall-to-wall gui­tar heaven.

In the sec­ond half Kevin, as gui­tar mae­stro, joins Johnny’s five mem­ber band, Black and Blue. It’s a re­cent group that’s come to­gether and gives Kevin the chance to play his favourite jazz, blues and bal­lads.

While he’s been based in Palmer­ston North for most of his life, Kevin has fea­tured in tour­ing bands ac­com­pa­ny­ing such leg­endary artists as Cilla Black, Harry Se­combe, Lorna Dal­las, Bert Wee­don and Ray Woolf.

Kevin’s buzz can be heard to­gether with the 101 Lab Band and Black and Blue at The Globe tonight at 8pm.

Kevin Down­ing is top right with mem­ber­sof his Lab Band.

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