Friday, May 08, 2015

Jack Body announced as A New Zealand Arts ICON.

Tonight I went to the book launch of 'Jack- Celebrating Jack Body, Composer' edited by Jennifer Sheehan, Gillian Whitehead and Scilla Askew, which was held Victoria University. Jack, unfortunately couldn't make the even, being in a hospice with terminal cancer. Brushing aside tears all the speakers talked of his insatiable energy and creativity, Publisher Roger Steele and Contributor Elizabeth Kerr mad...e a number of fitting tributes to Jack's spirit and effervescence.

The event also had one or two surprises. Sir Eion Edgar, patron, trustee and founder of the NZ Arts Foundation announced that Jack had been recently been presented with a Icon Award. There are only ever 20 presented, and only to living artists. Jack's specific medal was passed on from the late Ralph Hotere, with whom jack had collaborated on a series called 'Song Cycle'. Apparently Ralph had rubbed a substance into his medal to bring out the patina. Jack appreciated that. Other awardees include Peter Jackson, Janet Frame and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Jack is the first composer to be awarded the honour.

The audience were treated to 4 tribute works played by Victoria University of Music Piano teacher Jian Lu, and a sax duet by Dita Max called 'Ecstasy for Jack". Steve Garden announced two CDs of Jack's recent composition - "Passing By" (Rattle) and "Songs of Death and Desire"(Atoll). The night finished with some audio from Jack and his most famous work "The Street Where I Live" Performed by Jian and narrated by Jack (via a recording. Jack is a fitting tribute to a unique New Zealand - look out for the Book review on the Groove website very soon.

Sir Eion Edgar, Patron to the Icons, announced the award at the book launch of 'Jack! Celebrating Jack Body, Composer' this evening in Wellington. A formal celebration of Jack receiving the Icon Award will occur at Government House later this year, along with the announcement of two further Icon Award recipients.

Passing By is a double album set of chamber works by one of our most revered and cherished composers, the inimitable Jack Body. With new recordings from NZTrio and Stephen De Pledge, recent recordings from Kronos Quartet, Del Sol Quartet, Stroma New Music Ensemble, New Music Works Ensemble, David Radzynski, and Ensemble Nomad, Passing By is a testament to the career of one of New Zealand’s most inspired (and inspiring) artists.


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

NZ's best jazz album announced

This year's Best Jazz Album in New Zealand has been announced in Tauranga as part of the National Jazz Festival 2015.

Auckland band DOG has been crown the winner of the annual award for their self-titled debut album.
Dubbed a jazz super-group, DOG comprises four of New Zealand's most renowned jazz musicians, composers and educators: Kevin Field (piano), Roger Manins (saxophone), Olivier Holland (bass) and Ron Samsom (Drums). They are all music lecturers at the University of Auckland.
The self-titled album DOG has been described as a thrilling and vibrant recording, filled with innovative tracks and improvisation.
Recorded Music NZ CEO Damian Vaughan said DOG's album was a reflection of New Zealand's world-class jazz scene. 
"A wealth of talent and experience went in to creating the album. DOG are masters of this difficult craft and I congratulate them on recording an exceptional album which is well deserving of a Tui."

DOG – dubbed a jazz super-group – comprises four of New Zealand’s most renowned jazz musicians, composers and educators: Kevin Field (piano), Roger Manins (saxophone) and Olivier Holland (bass) and Ron Samson (Drums) are all Music lecturers at the University of Auckland.
The group began playing together in 2014 and were greeted with enthusiastic support, prompting them to release their self-title Rattle Jazz debut album Dog.
The other finalists for the 2015 Jazz Tui were The Jac for Nerve and solo artist Jonathan Crayford for Dark Light, both from Wellington. 

What started as a rehearsal band for students and tutors at the New Zealand School of Music jazz school in Wellington eventually turned into the octet The Jac. The group developed from transcribing and performing charts by New York and San Francisco composers to writing and performing their own music.
The eight-piece’s recording Nerve is regarded as a sharp five-track album that bursts with colour and ideas, taking influence from the older members’ wealth of experience and coupling it with the students’ youthful enthusiasm.

Jonathan Crayford is a stalwart of the New Zealand Jazz scene having spent more than 20 years performing and honing his craft. His latest album Dark Light – a trio recording featuring New York-based Ben Street on bass and Dan Weiss on drums – was composed in London in 2013. It aims to explore the ‘subtle wonders’ and mystery between the dark and light.
Critics dub Street and Weiss two of the most remarkable and sought-after jazz musicians in the Big Apple with the New York Times naming Weiss ‘One of the five Most Promising Drummers of the New Generation’.

And Crayford himself comes with high acclaim, critics calling him ‘profound’, ‘luminous’ and simply ‘terrific’.  His work doesn’t stop at simply composing great jazz albums either; Crayford also has a cinematic opera project in the works – which he is writing and composing – called ‘El Diablo de Cadaqués’ or ‘The Devil Of Cadaqués’.

Recorded Music New Zealand chief executive Damian Vaughan says this year’s line-up of collaborative albums showcases the many talented jazz musicians in New Zealand.
“The result of having multiple-talented jazz musicians come together on an album is superb. The collaborations give each a unique, world-class sound that truly showcases the diversity and brilliance of the New Zealand jazz scene. Congratulations to all three finalists.”
National Jazz Festival president Darryl Haigh says jazz continues to grow in New Zealand and 2015 has a fantastic group of finalists.
“The Tauranga National Jazz Festival is one of the cradles of New Zealand Jazz. It is a privilege for the festival to be the home of the Best Jazz Album Tui. The 2015 finalists are a joy to listen to”
The festival is hosted over Easter weekend and is the longest running Jazz Festival in the southern hemisphere and one of the oldest in the world. It acts as a showcase of both local and international jazz talent.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!

Recent previous winners of the Tui for Best Jazz Album
• 2011 - Reuben Bradley for Resonator
• 2012 - Rodger Fox's Wellington Jazz Orchestra for Journey Home
• 2013 - Nathan Haines for The Poet's Embrace
• 2014 - Nathan Haines for Vermillion Skies

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Jenny Wollerman, Michael Houstoun, and Rattle Records proudly announce the release of BETWEEN DARKNESS AND LIGHT

On Friday 1 May soprano Jenny Wollerman and concert pianist virtuoso Michael Houstoun release their new beautiful album Between Darkness and Light to a select audience at Victoria University.  Surrounded by friends, family, academics, Jenny’s students and loyal members of the Rattle Records family Jenny and Michael showcased one of the tunes from the new release, which was conceived as part of a concert for Wanaka’s Festival of light three years ago.  The project features compositions by some of the world's most beloved composers, including Gabriel Fauré, Samuel Barber, Richard Strauss, André Previn, and Claude Debussy.  The title comes from a quote by poet Rabindranath Tagore:   Between darkness and light is where the poet Rabindranath Tagore places “the silent meeting of soul with soul … where the infinite prints its kiss on the forehead of the finite.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

On ANZAC Day and the 'ANZAC Spirit'

With the 100th year commemorations of WWI there comes an outpouring vicarious emotion and jingoistic fervour as both individuals and states alike clamour to align themselves with the myth of righteous sacrifice. There are two phrases that will be repeated endlessly in this part of the Pacific: “Gallipoli: The birth of a Nation” and the “The coming of age”. Both really grate with me. I’ve just been in Australia and witnessed first-hand the exploitation of BRANZAC: clothing, ornaments and trinkets, maps, books and TV docs that all point to the honour and sacrifice made by the ANZACs, a cashing in on the “spirit of the ANZACs. That spirit – “honour, sacrifice, mate-ship” is the unashamed currency both the New Zealand and Australian Prime Minsters recently chose to spend in when justifying their decisions and support for troops to return to the same part of the world where all this started: The Middle East. Granted, Iraq is slightly south on the map but the underlying, unspoken rationale for sending the troops is the a same. Commerce - The same driver as gross commercialisation of the ANZACs, and the same driver that brought any of us to Aotearoa in the first place. Cry all you want but I am pessimistic...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

WOMAD 2015 - a few thoughts

It’s always to cover a festival like WOMAD.  There’s so much to cram into three days.  But what I can give you are my own personal highlights.  Friday afternoon began with a search for a campsite.  When they say the world comes to Taranaki – they literally mean that!  There were 5,000 pitching on the nearby racecourse this year. 

Estere - Photo Tim Gruar
Ticket sales were fantastic, too – selling out all the three day passes.  Early estimates suggest 12,000 attended over the weekend.  And with three days of near perfect festival weather spirits were high.  I found forgetting the can opener was the perfect icebreaker to meeting my neighbours – four women in their 60’s with a retro caravan – which, ironically was kitted out with everything except that specific kitchen tool!  Behind me was a family of four and two over a group of 20-Somethings.  A perfect slice of this all ages festival audience.  Friday night kicked off with a drum display by Taikoz (who later led ran the kid’s parade), followed by a slightly nervous Estere, who with her MPC Lola, got the crowd moving with her edgy brand of ‘electric blue witch-hop’. 
A VW Tent at thesampsite - Photo Mckenzie

Richard Thompson - Photo - Tim Gruar
On the Todd Energy Brooklands stage Brazilian pop act Flavia Coelho  was a firestorm of passion.  She was only slightly upstaged by crazy Spaniards Che Sudaka’, who were also favourites at the Taste the World tent when they cooked ‘au natural’, with only aprons and guitars!  Head liner Richard Thompson brought the goods –  well practised guitar solos and a mix of tunes from his enormous back catalogue.  My favourite: ‘Guitar Heroes’ which features a melody of styles from Chuck Berry to Django Reinhart, all in one song!”.  

Public Service Broadcasting brought their own corduroy cool and Airfix-kid geekery, complete with ‘40’s newsreels and tv snippets of cosmonauts. 

The ‘Mighty Lion, Senegalese sensation Youssou N’Dour was a worthy, if slightly stock-standard showman.  I expected more than a cookie cutter festival effort. 

McKenzie Interviews Estere - Photo Tim Gruar
Saturday was a crazy blur of interviews and gigs.  A wee highlight was watching my 12 year old daughter IVing Estere.  I did manage to catch the second half of Tahuna Break’s lunchtime chill session and some crazy antics from Children’s jugglers and entertainers Hoop Hooligans.  There will also be embarrassing twitter photos of me dancing along to Puerto Flamenco before dozing off to eerie strains of Indian classical artist Meeta Pandit.   I was blown away by the desert-Hendrix-blues of Niger’s Bombino and went back for their second show.  One festival fave will be the Malawi Mouse Boys, leaping out into the audience and crooning at strangers.  Local boy Mylele Manzanza (Sam’s son) and his Electric delivered two brilliant shows of hard funk. 

Thomas Bartlett (The Gloaming) - Photo Trevor Villers

On vinyl Rufus Wainright''s laboured  Broadway crooning can be an acquired taste but on Saturday night he won over every participant in the Bowl with a repertoire from his own Greatest Hits (‘Not My Best Of") and selections from his mom Kate McGarrigle and Uncle Leonard (‘Hallelujah’, of course).  The extra bonus was watching the whole hour side stage, just 15 feet from the piano.  Not even the wading stage diver /flasher could dampen the moment!  I didn’t get to see Irish band The Gloaming but all reports told me I’d missed another highlight.

Flip Grater - Photo Trevor Villers
I caught up to congratulate newlywed Flip Grater, who paraded her new beau on the Dell stage.  Along with band mates from French for Rabbits she charmed the assembled masses. 

Sinead O'Connor - Photo Trevor Villers
FFR had a slight struggle to do the same on Sunday following a typically flippant hour from Sinead O’Connor,  but they got there.  O’Connor, wearing a Catholic dog collar, cross and an shed load of tats looked like she was spoiling for a fight.  She was initially her usual intense powerhouse self before collapsing into giggles trying to finish “Nothing Compares To U’ at a swing tempo.  Apparently a quacking duck was what set her off!  Oh Well – it’s a festival, eh! 

Bridget Kearney (Lake Street Dive) Photo Tim Gruar
Speaking of, the best acts – at a WOMAD it was always going to be the boisterous party act Balkan Beat Box, who were crazy, mad, insisting that even the oldies in the over 65 stands get up to boogie – and they did!  I had a chat to Puglia’s Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino just prior to their spell-binding set, which included a ‘suicidal’ rope dance that only the Italians could master!  I also had a chat to Trinity Roots who pulled out two solid sets over the weekend mixing their challenging new album, Citizen with old fav’s like ‘Sense not cents’ – which they’d reworked into a trance like 20 minute wig-out.  Quick mention goes to Lake Street Dive, who’d sprinted down from the Auckland Arts Festival to serve up a fine ol’ hour of mostly original retro-soul numbers, retranslating those 60’s Black girl groups into white indie pop with the added vibe of a smoky late night speak easy.  Very cool.
Osadia - Photo Tim Gruar
Featuring in the intervals were Spanish ‘hairdressers’ Osadia.  Looking like a clash of Bjork and a Turkish silk shop they singled out crowd members to doll up with outlandish and fantastical hairdos and face paint.   This year flag-maker Angus Watt came to the party with a brilliant collection of banners, which encircled the grounds and a new feature, a pyramid of red poppies was constructed from audience purchases in fitting commemoration.   When it got dark the blue lights of the strung out sculpture and an ever-changing colour lit ‘couch’ came into their own.  There was also a very cool carnival style café, complete with hula-hoops and photo -op’s with a guru, in the old Pinetun space.  And that was one small commiseration, with the Artists in Conversation section of the programme disappearing this year.  For me there were only two other gripes – more toilets and showers on the campsite please and the food prices, which have been steadily increasing, in disproportion to the portion sizes.  Small, I know.  But not small was the sense of occasion and jubilation. 

WOMAD is over ten Year’s now and a permanent date in my calendar.  Every Year the line ups get better.  I’m sure I missed a few things, but given the size it was bound to happen.  One even no one missed was the Adios performance of Qrquestra Buena Vista Social Club.  Down to four of the originals from the Ry Coder days they showed utter professionalism and grace.  84 year old Omara Portuondo was the consummate show woman having the time of her life.  Through torch songs, tunes of celebration and a raunchy version of ‘Perhaps, Perhaps’ she wooed her crowd, like no other.  It was the perfect way to finish as I walked back up the hill to the car, with the crowd’s cheering in my ears, for the long hall back. 

Qrquestra Buena Vista Social Club - Tim Gruar Back Stage at the Main Stage

Public Service Broadcasting - Photo Tim Gruar
WOMAD stepped up its ongoing no waste campaign this year by eliminating all plastic bottles and issuing goblets (complete with washing facilities) for punters to refill at the bar (beer, soft drinks, smoothies, etc)  Apparently that’s knocked down the onsite tip load to about half of last year’s hall – brilliant!  There will always be criticism that the festival has too many commercial or mainstream acts but the balance is still right.  Like a food court it has a host of national dishes.  It’s only when the large franchises bully in that whole thing goes under and that hasn’t happened yet.  Big cheers to the volunteers, comperes from The Hits and RNZ, who’ll be broadcasting a few shows in the future and did ‘Nights’ on Friday and ‘Music 101’ the next day.  And kudos to TAFT and their publicity crew who also outdid themselves again!  Before the gigs started each day I managed a walked along the waterfront, a spot of shopping in the quirky art shops and a gawk at the Wind Wand.  Next year the Len Lye-Centre at the Govett Brewster Gallery will be open – even more reason to make the journey into an extended stay. Kia Ora New Plymouth!
The New Lye Ly Wing of the Govett Brewster Gallery getting close to completion

Many Thanks to the Ladies at the Label - Lisa and Lucy :, Trevor Villers (photographer -,, Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (

Friday, March 20, 2015

Improve your PC AND keep Groove on-air at the same time!

Support Groove FM and get your computer running better by grabbing yourself a copy of our PC Cleanup application.
For 3 years I've been working on how to get people's PC's running faster and more reliably without them having to spend virtually any time setting up settings or reading instructions.
Make a donation of only NZ$25.00 to Groove FM and we'll send you a copy as a thank you :)
(Approx US$19.00 as at Mar 2015).
  • Speeds up boot up time (up to 63% or more), general performance speed and resolves many issues (Mouse freezing, applications crashing etc)
  • Easy to use
  • Like having a technician available at your place whenever you need for the next 5 years! (5yr licence)
Hop over to our Software page here to find out all the details.


Thursday, February 05, 2015

On Yer Bike CoffeeBar Kid

The Kid goes adventuring with the Wellington Regional Council.  Listen below.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra

The Kid interviews Age Pryor about the upcoming shows and the debut album 9 years into their 'career'.

The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra Launch Be Mine Tonite

Festival fav's The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra are about to embark on a national tour in support of their debut, all Kiwi sing-along-able CD "Be Mine Tonight" which is due for release on iTunes and in stores on November 7th. The band has already been on the road and are just back for a quick home visit before heading back out again.  Taking a breather their recent excursion to China and Japan founding musician Age Pryor found a few moments to chat over the blower from his digs in Auckland.  Auckland, Age. Really?  Not Wellington? "Ah, yes.  I relocated up here about 6 years ago to teach music at Unitec part time."  But he's still a Welly at heart, he assures me. 

A few years ago Age led a number of projects including the Woolshed sessions, recorded on Jane Campion's Nelson farm and two solo albums.  These days his main focus is the 'Uke's' (as he calls them), with whom he plays and co manages with fellow musician Gemma Gracewood. "It's incredible," he remarks, "that the band is still together.  As such it's scattered to the four winds these days.  Some are back in Wellington.  I'm in Auckland.  Gemma's based in New York and there's another in Singapore."  Truly international locals!   

The band’s reputation has built up over the years based on a live show of madcap hilarity and spontaneous audience participation. But behind the hijinks is a finely-tuned musical group who've  have truly cemented their place on New Zealand’s entertainment scene. Their unique sound – a choir of gorgeous voices set to magnificent ukulele riffs and licks – is now in hot demand worldwide and they've long been the darlings of festivals and special events with tickets for their shows snapped up almost before they go on sale. The band's original line up has changed little over the years and includes session musicians, a member of twinset and occasionally Brett Mckenzie.

The last time I talked to Age must have been over 9 years ago, when the Uke's first was playing bars and Summer City gigs.  Right from the start the aim of the band was to be interactive.  Age relays tales of playing in morning cafe's and sending people off to their day happy and cheery having sung and boogied away to the Uke's interpretations of well-known songs, reinterpreted for the ukulele.  "The sign of a good song is that it can be played on a uke.  Like a school choir doing Beatle songs because their so easy to arrange.  Ukes have become the ‘new recorder’ - simple, interactive and easy to get into.  I read that we are in the Uke's third age.  The first was the 1920's, then the 40's and 50's when Pacific music was the rage.  And now there are a new generation of performers."  Uke music is everywhere - from the immensely popular Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain to the avant-punk of Amanda Palmer and the skilled quirkiness of James Hill, a favourite at the last International Festival of the Arts.  Hill also features on the new album.  James does a brilliant little solo on Aadarana's "wake Up".  "He recorded it in a hotel bathroom for us, when he was on tour, jammed into a tiny space."  Other guests on this all Kiwi repertoire include Amanda Billing (the recently deceased Dr Potts from Shorty Street). "Amanda's got a great voice, she does choir work too.  She's been in shows like Cabernet.  She'll be touring with us.  We got her to do vocals on "E Ipo" (an old Prince Tui Teka number)."  Although in hot demand by the likes of Fat Freddy's Drop and Neil Finn, of late, star vocalist Lisa Tomlins also found a moment to work o the project, with an old Aotearoa track: "Long Ago".  That one also includes Hawaiian uke specialist Pi’ikea Clark.  Age tells me that Pi’ikea is schooled in traditional Hawaiian music, "from the ones who were the keeper of the knowledge.  He is a really fine player and we really learned a lot from him traditional playing."

Recently the Uke's have toured Asia, opening them up to a whole new audience base.  "We found China very challenging, especially the language.  I don't speak Mandarin.  They don't speak English and even relying on gestures was hard because they do theirs different to us.  But we learned a lot.  Chinese audiences are very polite," Ages says.  Relying on a translator to convey their frivolous banter provided some extra complexities, too.  There were moments of blank-faced embarrassment. "Japan was different as we mainly did festivals and community events.  And English is not a problem.  Also the Japanese are less inhibited once they understand what you are doing.  They know about New Zealand.  So that helped."  So, how will Kiwi audiences react in the coming month when the Uke's arrive in their local halls and theatres?  One thing you can rely on - plenty of fun and hilarity.  "Be prepared to sing your lungs out - From Lorde to Sherbert, you'll know all the songs!"   

The Be Mine Tonight Album Release Tour:

8 Nov – Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin
9 Nov – Stadium Southland, Invercargill
10 Nov – Alexandra Memorial Theatre
11 Nov – Lake Wanaka Centre
13 Nov – Ashburton Trust Event Centre
14 Nov – Roy Stokes Hall, Christchurch – JUST ADDED!
15 Nov – Roy Stokes Hall, Christchurch
21 Nov – Regent on Broadway, Palmerston North
22 Nov – TSB Showplace, New Plymouth
23 Nov – Great Lake Centre, Taupo
25 Nov – MTG Theatre, Napier
27 Nov – Baycourt Theatre, Tauranga
28 Nov – Wintergarden, Auckland 7pm SHOW SOLD OUT! 10pm show still available.
29 Nov – NZ Ukulele Festival
30 Nov – Turner Centre, Kerikeri
5 & 6 Dec – James Cabaret, Wellington

All ticket info can be found at


Friday, November 14, 2014

We're selling records from the Groove Vinyl vault today!

As part of our studio move we've decided we have more in our music library than we need so call us today if you'd like to buy any records.

Styles we have available include: 60's crooners, 60's R & R, Show soundtracks (e.g. Sound of music etc), 70's, 'Solid Gold' style compilations, 80's, Classical, old BBC sound effect records, Motown/soul, and, interestingly, quite a few German records.

Call us on 381 4766 today (or maybe tomorrow) if you'd like to come by Trades Hall in Vivian St, Wellington and grab yourself a Groove souvenir!