Library sounds – a mid-year review

I’ve been exploring the CD collection available through Christchurch City Libraries this year and I’ve found some absolute gems!

There’s a mix of styles and eras in this list and quite a representation of New Zealand music – and it just so happens to be New Zealand Music Month.

So sit back and get some sonic stimulation from some quality musicians from around the world of music…

2018 – The Best of Music

List created by DevilStateDan

Music highlights for the year. Some are brand new, some are decades old but new to me, all are great!

Versatile – Van Morrison doing jazz interpretations backed by a very slick big band. It’s really well produced and if you’re new to the American jazz standards then this is a great way in!

Utterance – I love this album! It’s a collaborative effort between three on NZ’s finest musicians; David Long (banjo w/effects), Natalia Mann (harp), and Richard Nunns (taonga puoro). These flavours blend beautifully to create haunting soundscapes that are textural and dynamic – truly beautiful sounds from Aotearoa!

The Jazz Messengers – The first album from the group that went on to be the band that every jazz player wanted to be in. They’ve had some huge names in jazz through their ranks over the years and this is a great way to start their 40+ album recording career!

The Kitchen Table Sessions – Beaut, home-cooked alt-country from NZ’s favourite adopted daughter, Tami Neilson. Great country grooves and a lady with a voice of gold – what’s not to love!?

Preservation – Some more beautiful, lyrical, melodic songwriting from NZ’s Nadia Reid.

Second Nature – This is just how I like the Blues; stripped back, acoustic, you can just imagine it on the porch on a hot summer day… This father and son team recorded this album in single takes with no overdubs whilst they were touring Finland in 1991, and it’s a timeless and solid an blues album as you’ll find.

Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band – Charlie Watts (drummer for the Rolling Stones) gives it his jazz side on this album, featuring the big band of Danish radio. Some great jazz music here particularly the ‘Elvin Suite’ numbers. After that you get the obligatory big band arrangements of some Stones songs, beautifully arranged and executed but nothing terribly exciting musically.

Dog – Stripped back acoustic blues doesn’t get much better than this album of what I like to call “porch music” from Charlie Parr. Solid songwriting and a very real connection with the blues makes this a great addition to the genre.

Don’t Let Them Lock You up – New Zealand music is in good shape these days and I really like the creativity and superb musicianship that is on display on this album. They usually perform as a duo but the recording process has allowed them to expand on their ideas and grooves, implement new harmonies and percussion lines, and get really solid and funky! Great album!

Black Notes From the Deep – A great jazz album from the British multi-instrumentalist jazz legend Courtney Pine. Brilliant small ensemble playing and solid musicianship on display. I really liked the instrumentals – not so much the vocal numbers – but that’s just my preference. It’s good compositions played really nicely without arrogance or naff-ness. Jazz fans should have a listen.

View full list

Taonga Puoro

CoverRecently the Robert McDougall Art Gallery hosted a show by Brian Flintoff and Richard Nunns. These two men – introduced by none other than the esteemed Sir Tipene O’Regan – have spent the better part of their careers learning about traditional Māori musical instruments and the musical expression of pre-colonial Aotearoa.

We were treated to a retelling of the creation story complete with sound effects incorporated into beautiful and haunting songs sung by Ariana Tikao. Brian tells a good story. It starts with the separating of Sky Father Rangi – for whom tunes are named after – and Earth Mother Papatuanuku – who provides the heartbeat and rhythm. This is the work of their eldest son Tane, who then filled the new space with sounds, breath of the birds – haumanu, and things from which to make these sounds. This connection with the ‘cosmogony‘ (cor, what a word!) is why they are called singing treasures.

Richard and Brian have been hanging out for years and their hilarious banter gave some extra personal flavour to the storytelling.

The instruments themselves were amazing to hear and see. Carved and decorated whales teeth and bones, shells, hardwoods, soft stones, gourds, pounamu and even kelp are then blown, struck or swung to create sounds that mimic those made by nature. My favourite instrument is the ‘hue puruhau’. It is a gourd that when swung in a big circle, emulates the low boom of the male kakapo. Way cool!

And how about this for a true story… a flute with one hole, the pumotomoto, is played over the fontanelle of a new-born baby’s head to implant songs and information on tribal heritage directly into the child’s subconscious. Now that’s an idea.

The echo of the marbled art gallery chamber made the sounds and songs come alive. Another thing that really struck me was how eerie some of this was. If I was about to go for a walk in the woods at night, I’d be scared!

See the library website for more on Maori music: contemporary Maori music, waiata, kapa haka and more information on taoka puoro (traditional Maori music).

In this Radio NZ programme Richard Nunns plays the instruments and talks about them too.