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Jonathan Crayford: Inspiration from Improvisation

27 February 2006

Jonathan Crayford: - Taking inspiration from improvisation

From Lower Hutt to New York, Wellington born artist Jonathon Crayford has been performing music his whole life. But it won¹t be until March 2006 when he visits some of New Zealand¹s smaller centres for the first time that he¹ll be able to say he¹s performed all over the world.

In his late 20¹s, Jonathon went to New York for musical inspiration. He recalls, "New York was a diet of a lot of crazy stuff, ranging from crazy things ­ to a lot of very intellectual musical content, from the very expensive to everything in between. I really liked being in an environment that offered a vitality to the expression of one¹s conditions; artistically that had a fundamental appeal that was almost needed by people to lead their daily lives."

He says the experience solidified his desire to become a musician. "It was crowded, noisy, and there¹s lots of help if needed and you end up getting very focussed", says Jonathon. "I learnt that wherever it is that you live, you¹ve got to make sure that you absorb as much as you can from outside influences."

Jonathon will bring his unique style of music to Kerikeri, Gore and Blenheim in March. He will perform a range of original works and improvisations together with works by J S Bach and Mompou. He says improvisation has a special quality of it¹s own, and gives him artistic freedom without musical boundaries. "I play music that is composed in real time. With composing, you can stop. When you¹re performing and improvising, you can¹t stop. There¹s an audience right in front of you! Meeting different people and feeding off a different ambience and making contact with people directly is all part of the live experience."

He says the trick is to improvise with what feels right at the time of performing and that creating music live in the form of improvisation is a celebration of life itself. "You want to get outside yourself so you¹re not away, you're in front of some nice imagery. I try to create a significant, thorough, provoking composition that has something real about it. I play things that are based on everything I¹ve come across ­ I don¹t limit to one particular style. I embellish from every experience I¹ve ever had."

"To create and celebrate beauty in all of its facets, even it¹s ugliness, can be beautiful. It¹s not how well it¹s done but what it¹s doing. If something has integrity it doesn¹t matter what shape it is", he says. "I¹m very attracted to that Œspecial thing¹ that happens when you discover a new Œthing¹. I¹m celebrating being alive when I¹m performing."

He is looking forward to performing in some of New Zealand¹s smaller towns. "New Zealand is a great place to be from ­ its still got a freshness and on the other hand can be parochial at times."

Concert dates

Wednesday 15 March
80 Pa Road
"Fernlake Park 2"
Private Home, c/o Jerry Trussler

Sunday 19 March
James Cumming Lecture Theatre, Gore

Thursday 23 March
Brancott Estate Winery, Blenheim


Snoring Waters Crayford
Icarus Crayford
Cuban Song Crayford
How Insensitive Jobim
Improvisation #1 Crayford
Improvisation #2 Crayford
Improvisation #3 Crayford
Canción y Danza 7 Mompou
Aria from Goldberg Variations Bach
Paris Crayford

About Jonathon

Jonathan Crayford began playing the piano at a very early age. Alongside his classical training he says he Œabsorbed jazz by osmosis¹, through his father, well-known jazz musician Terry Crayford, and his many musician friends who frequented their family home. He says his inclination towards music was a very natural process that it didn¹t ocour to him that he could create it himself. "I always felt that music went with things, could define things. I thought music was great, that nature provided it. When I heard something that was beautifully composed, I though it was so beautiful that nature must have built it", he says. "I used to Œhear¹ music in my head that I thought I should make."

Later on he played in clubs with jazz and rock bands and through his association with drummer/actor Bruno Lawrence began working as a film producer, arranging and composing for orchestra and collaborating on many diverse musical projects including film (ŒRuby & Rata¹, ŒMr Wrong¹) and stage. At the age of 26 he moved to New York and began looking for work.

Playing piano in the house band of the St Marks Bar in Manhattan¹s Lower East Side he became involved with many of the players active in New York and slowly established himself into the music of the city and its diverse cultures.

He was invited to join Mambo Macoco, an Afro/Cuban group led by bassist Bobby Vidal and around the same time joined 10 piece acid jazz band Groove Collective touring over 20 countries including Canada, the United States and Europe.

Jonathon says creating music is a personal experience. "Music is such a broad thing. And with improvisation, you can craft to the extent of your ability and performance. You can listen to whatever whims come over you at the time without needing to communicate that to anyone else. You can take off! You can take people¹s minds to some other place. It¹s a breath of fresh air."

These will be his debut performances in Kerikeri, Gore and Blenhiem.

Crayford produces music of diversity and substance, by turns passionate, delicate, introspective and exultant
Evening Post, Wellington

Musical journeys of startling originality
Evening Post, Wellington

Pianist Crayford has that Dave Brubeck/Horace Silver lyrical quality.
Jazz Review, New York

About Chamber Music New Zealand

Chamber Music New Zealand presents local and international chamber music ensembles throughout New Zealand. Its annual Celebrity Season showcases premier international artists, while the Associate Societies programme focuses on New Zealand performers. The New Zealand Community Trust Chamber Music Contest fosters the musical stars and composers of the future.


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