Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Jazz Festival Review: Closing Night Special

Jazz Festival Review: Closing Night Special

Review by Tyler Hersey

The New Zealand
Dominion Centenary Concert Band
Click to enlarge

The New Zealand Dominion Centenary Concert Band

Closing Night Special
The Frontroom
November 11, 8pm

Opening the final show of the Wellington Jazz Festival was the amusing yet inscrutable New Zealand Dominion Centenary Concert Band, who combined drums and brass with inflated balloons and dry humour. Dressed in an array of military uniforms, the group fiddled about on their instruments while calling out names of New Zealand icons such as Dick Hubbard and Ed Hillary. Not your normal jazz fest fare; band leader John T Bell conceded that the group was more accustomed to playing "official events, such as pedestrian crossing openings and gallery closings". After a strange run through a Korean pop song which featured a well-played reed melody by Choi Jae Kyung, the performance closed with a particularly un-rousing version of "God Save the Queen", complete with words mumbled by a crowd who appreciated this satire of pomp and circumstance.

The evening's main event was a set by New York imports Susie Ibarra and Roberto Roderigez, who have worked in the Downtown Manhattan avant garde jazz scene with such diverse performers as acclaimed contemporary composer John Zorn and art noise rockers Sonic Youth. While their laptop and percussion soundscapes did evoke some interesting scenes, Ibarra's compositions stayed firmly rooted in the realm of generic downbeat world music. The performance caused wave after wave of shuffling and yawning amongst the audience, who probably expected something a lot more upbeat and engaging from the Saturday night grand finale.

The most interesting part of the Ibarra/Roderiguez collaboration was the electronic treatments of Ibarra's kulintang instrument, which consisted of a series of inverted metal bowls of varying sizes that are played somewhat like a xylophone. Sharing the same lineage as Indonesian Gamelan, Ibarra describes the result as "Filipino trance music", which is a fairly accurate assessment. Unfortunately, the trance was a little too deep for the meagre crowd, even with the occasional addition of heavy, Latin-inspired drum beats by Rodriguez. The duo has developed an interesting project, but they were not a good fit for their time slot. By the time the band took an encore, the venue was emptying out. Booked for a Sunday evening or a smaller gig in the confines of Happy, the show could have gone over quite well.

Finishing off the evening was the New Pacific Music Ensemble, who combined the heavy percussion of log drums with lilting ukulele strums and a latin-flavoured rhythm section. It was a joy to see Wellington's best drummer, Chris O'Connor, drive the music, but the songwriting of leader Andrew McMillan failed to capture the audience as well as it had during their sunny afternoon show in Frank Kitts Park. Once again, an interesting project which could be very rewarding if it possessed more compelling melodies and an appropriate time slot.


Wellington International Jazz festival homepage:

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Dunne Speaks: Robertson's Budget Gamble On Treasury
The popular test of the success or failure of Grant Robertson’s fifth Budget will be its impact on the soaring cost of living. In today’s climate little else matters. Because governments come and governments go – about every six to seven years on average since 1945 – getting too focused on their long-term fiscal aspirations is often pointless... More>>

Keith Rankin: Liberal Democracy In The New Neonationalist Era: The Three 'O's
The proposed ‘New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme’ (‘the scheme’) has attracted strong debate among the more left-wing and liberal groupings, within New Zealand-Aotearoa. This debate should be seen as a positive rather than negative tension because of the opportunity to consider and learn from the implications and sharpen advocacy... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Words Matter, Prime Minister
Words matter, especially when uttered by politicians. History is littered with examples of careless or injudicious words uttered by politicians coming back to haunt them, often at the most awkward of times. During the 1987 election campaign, when electoral reform was a hot issue, Prime Minister David Lange promised to have a referendum on the electoral system... More>>

Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>

The Conversation: Cheaper food comes with other costs – why cutting GST isn't the answer

As New Zealand considers the removal of the goods and services tax (GST) from food to reduce costs for low income households, advocates need to consider the impact cheap food has on the environment and whether there are better options to help struggling families... More>>