Free Parking for improvisation in multiple environments.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Allwright, Everybody!

I thought I'd preview a concert on Saturday night that I'm really looking forward to: partly because it is a rare event involving the intersection of 3 of my particular worlds - New Zealand, Music and France.

Graeme Allwright's life story is quite remarkable. He was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1926 (same year as Miles Davis). After gaining a scholarship to a drama school in London, he followed his heart to France in 1948, where he settled with his first wife.

Working daytime in the various odd jobs that are often the fate of long-term anglo-saxons in France, he started exploring the music of 1960s singer-songwriters - notably adaptations into French of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. In 1966, at the age of 40, he got a record deal (there's still hope!), and his first disc was a hit in France. Allwright's music successfully bridged the worlds of Woodstock and the heated days of the événements in France in 1968. Further hit songs followed, and he became a star throughout the francophone world. For an anglophone from the far side of the world, to gain recognition in the tight circle of chanson française was a significant achievement.

Of course, nobody knows who he is in his native land, and Graeme's tour to New Zealand in 2005 (aged 78) is effectively the first time he has performed in this country as a recognised artist. He's assembled a great kiwi band for the tour, including pianist Jonathan Crayford and the very original saxophonist Lucien Johnson.

Graeme Allwright - Suzanne
From Le Jour de clarté: Polygram 536 163-2 [Buy]

Graeme Allwright - La Marseillaise
[zipfile including lyrics and mp3]

The songs here give you a good idea of his style. Suzanne (by Leonard Cohen) is one of his great hits. And this cheeky kiwi has even dared to play with La Marseillaise, re-working the lyrics to aspire to more than blood and guts. Perhaps these represent new valeurs républicaines for the 21st Century...?

Pour tous les enfants de la terre
Chantons amour et liberté.
Contre toutes les haines et les guerres
L'étendard d'espoir est levé
L'étendard de justice et de paix.
Rassemblons nos forces, notre courage
Pour vaincre la misère et la peur.
Que règnent au fond de nos coeurs
L'amitié la joie et le partage.
La flamme qui nous éclaire,
Traverse les frontières
Partons, partons, amis, solidaires
Marchons vers la lumière.

© 2005, Graeme Allwright - Sylvie Dien

The Best Laid Plans of Mice

Righto, I'm back with some more regular posts. I said earlier on that I was taking some time to focus on some projects. The results of actually focusing on these projects were:

1. One of the projects got moved forward a little bit.
2. I decided that one of the projects wasn't actually what I wanted to do, and gave it up.
3. I spent a whole lot of unplanned time re-connecting with friends, (and making some new ones), which in fact I realise now, was what I actually needed to do.

I guess the lesson here is that I should stop being so self-important and let things drift a bit more. Then I might actually achieve something.

Mt Eden, early summer 2005

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Weekend Distraction

I was in a rather erudite mood after attending last night's 25th Anniversary concert by the Auckland Philharmonia (Beethoven's 8th, violinist Eugene Fodor playing Ravel's Tzigane and Poème by Chausson, some exciting Mexican stuff and NZ composer Ross Harris' hilarious orchestral mashup entitled Cento).

I'd also just splurged at Borders on the Berlin Philharmoniker under Claudio Abbado playing Mahler's 5th, (thanks to a recommendation by Nick), AEOC's Fanfare for the Warriors and some Benjamin Britten choral work sung by the Choir of King's College Cambridge. I was well ready for some serious listening on Saturday and Sunday.

But then I found this video, I lost my attention span, and my brain turned to mush. Yes, it's an ad for Microsoft, but I thought it was so silly that it deserved to be posted.

Curse this modern world and its adolescent diversions.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Nuclear Weapons are Morally Indefensible

A break in the silence for a short while...

A few months ago we in NZ mourned the loss of David Lange. As I mentioned at the time, probably the most memorable moment of David Lange's time as Prime Minister was his speech to the Oxford Union in 1985, arguing for the motion that Nuclear Weapons are Morally Indefensible.

Now you can download an mp3 format file of that speech, made available under a Creative Commons license at Public Address:

David Lange - Nuclear Weapons are Morally Indefensible

This recording is remarkable because in a sense, this is an audio recording of a nation "coming of age". It captures the very moment that New Zealand stood up for itself for the first time in the world, becoming a rare voice of dissent in the Reagan-era Cold War.

I was barely out of kindergarten at the time, but even at seven years old, I remember how the anti-nuclear movement in New Zealand was something very palpable, even at a community level, as suburbs, cities and boroughs around the nation declared themselves independently "nuclear free".

The music placed behind the speech is by Andrew B. White.

David Lange at the Oxford Union, 1985

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Radio Silence

If posts on etnobofin become more infrequent over the next few weeks, it is because I've taken the decision to focus my energy and time on a few other (non-online) projects and plans for a little while.

I will still be online occasionally and will be reading other blogs when I get time, just don't expect much new stuff to be posted here in the next month or so. I hope to be "back in action" before Christmas!

In the meantime, feel free to visit some of the other blogs that are linked down the right hand side of the page. They are there because I think they are all worth visiting.

Thanks for visiting and commenting and making etnobofin a worthwhile exercise. I'll see you all soon!

Peace/ A très bientôt

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dave Douglas

A report from Vienna of a gig by Dave Douglas' new Keystone band prompted a session of Sunday morning listening to some of Dave Douglas' older stuff. Probably the highest profile American trumpet player in jazz today, (apart from Wynton), Dave Douglas' music silences any doubters who contend that jazz died as a creative, forward-looking music decades ago.

I've selected a couple of Douglas tunes for the usual "compare and contrast" exercise that we encourage here on this blog. The Persistence of Memory comes from Douglas' early years as a leader in the mid-90s. The band includes Uri Caine (pn), Chris Speed (ts/cl), Josh Roseman (tb)m James Genus (b) and Jeoy Baron (d). Dave's solo is the sort of happy fusion of grace and innovation that make the rest of us trumpet players realise that we are just kids in the sandpit.

The Great Schism is from the album Freak In, one of Dave's many explorations of the territory bordering jazz and electronics. Ostinato city!

Dave Douglas - The Persistence of Memory
From In Our Lifetime: New World/Countercurrents 80471-2 [Buy]

Dave Douglas - The Great Schism
From Freak In: Bluebird/RCA 09026-64008-2 [Buy]

In Other News
Gunter likes french fries is back on deck this weekend. molo's french fast food outlet is highly recommended for freeze-dried dumplings of musical genius selected by Monsieur Molo himself, one of the most consistent arbiters of jazz taste in the blogosphere.

R.I.P. Rod Donald, 1957-2005: co-leader of the NZ Green Party. In the 1990s, the architect of the campaign to reform our electoral system. An honest politician taken before his time.

Dave Douglas

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Dope Beatz Straight Outta South Central (Auckland)

Thought it was time to do a post about hip hop in Aotearoa. This is not my area of expertise, so I'll stick to some stuff that I quite like.

NZ is just as swamped by American product as every other country in the world, and this situation certainly makes itself felt in the music created locally. What does make NZ hip hop unique however is our large Pasifika and Maori population (Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world), and these Polynesian cultural roots are heard strongly in urban music of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Beatrootz are a teenage Wellington group who bust onto the national stage this year with this song, No DJz, which reached Number 17 on the NZ charts. I find this tune difficult to remove from my head. Telling you "this is how we do it in Welly", its simple synth hook and melodic chorus is typical of a Polynesian hip hop/R'n'B style that has gained a following far wider than the regular youth market. And when the shout-out to the suburbs runs to "Strathmore, Berhampore, Newtown, Island Bay, P-Town, the Hutt, Lyall Bay, Kilbirnie..." you know you ain't rolling in Brooklyn or Watts no more, Toto.

Beatrootz - No DJz
From Supafresh II - Beatz Hot off the Grill: King SF102CD [Buy]


Representing the "old school" of NZ Hip Hop, The Feelstyle is an MC with a track record as long as his arm (he was a contestant in the very first MC battle held in this country in the 80s). However it was only last year that he released his first full-length solo album Break it to Pieces. The album received critical rave reviews locally and overseas (including Straight No Chaser magazine in the UK), thanks in part to Feelstyle's unique bilingual (Samoan/English) rapping and great production by Auckland DJ Submariner (aka Andy Morton).

The track I've chosen is a tale about a NZ Samoan returning to his "homeland" in Samoa, and features a clavinet loop played by Mark de Clive-Lowe. As one might say, su'amalie (sweet!).

The Feelstyle - Going Home
From Break it to Pieces: Can't Stop Music 338132 [Buy]

The Feelstyle

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

24 Hours in Wellington

It's amazing what 600km in a southerly direction can do to the weather. Arriving in Wellington for the jazz festival on Sunday was like stepping back into winter - 12 degrees C, wind, drizzle and dark clouds looming over Mount Victoria. We visitors from subtropical Auckland were barely prepared for this!

Frank Kitts Park in Wellington

But what Welly lacks in climate, it makes up for in talent and enthusiasm. Despite threatening clouds overhead all afternoon, the outdoor gig at Frank Kitts Park remained dry and fairly hip. Musical highlights included Rosie Langabeer's Zirkus Big Band, exploring profitable territory in between Mingus and Carla Bley, (you would not find a swinging unit playing original material like this in Auckland!) Candela (possibly a pun on Wellington suburb Khandallah) pulled out some more than-competent Afro-Cuban stuff, including a very creditable cover of Eddie Palmieri's Cuidate Compay.

Eddie Palmieri - Cuidate Compay
From Azucar Pa Ti: Fania [Buy]

Cosmic moment of the trip happened when I got talking to a backpacker in the crowd from Holland. His trip to New Zealand was his present to himself after finishing at university. He asked me if I had read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. And in fact, I had bought the book the previous day in Auckland.... since I believe most things don't happen by accident, I'll take this to be a sign. I start reading The Alchemist tonight!

Parliament buildings in our nation's capital

The evening's events occured at Happy, (Wellington always has at least one venue that's always open and always putting on interesting music).

Rose Wedde (mother of Conrad, keyboardist in The Phoenix Foundation another post in itself), opened proceedings with a short "solo" show consisting of a piano recital of Debussy, Schumann and Rachmaninoff, a puppet show, and a son et lumiere involving a slide show of black and white photos New Zealand in the colonial period and a Chopin piano nocturne, played expertly by Rose. I was crying by the end. Afterwards she served the audience wine biscuits and tea, making Rose's show the undoubted and unexpected highlight of my 24 hours in Wellington.

Image from Alexander Turnbull Library, Ranfurly Collection.

Chopin - Opus 9 No. 2 Nocturne in Eb Major
Performed by Erik Edwards. More mp3s available a

The Dominion Centenary Concert Band were the headline act for the evening, and demolished the audience with their hard hitting combination of rapcore punk and straightedge goth metal. I caught some of the gig on Minidisc, and here is an excerpt. The composed passages include the Second Movement of Haydn's Symphony No. 104 in D major and the traditional American fife and drum tune York Fusiliers.

Dominion Centenary Concert Band - Performance #3 [excerpt, 9:21]
Recorded live at Happy, Wellington, October 30th, 2005