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Secret Islands

Secret Islands

Jim Langabeer

 
 
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description

 
SECRET ISLANDS
 
Jim Langabeer (tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute, putorino)
Rosie Langabeer (piano, Fender Rhodes, organ)
Roger Manins (alto saxophone)
Neil Watson (guitars, pedal steel)
Eamon Edmundson-Welles (bass)
Chris O’Connor (drums)
 

Jim Langabeer's debut on Rattle, Secret Islands is also his first album as bandleader.

 
When asked to comment on the general quality of the players emerging from the Jazz Schools, a seasoned New York veteran (who shall remain nameless) said, “Man, they’re all great players. They have chops to burn, but they lack character, and you can’t teach that. You get it inch by inch from experience”. Perhaps Lester Young put it best when he said, ‘I hear the notes, but what‘s your story’.
 
Jim Langabeer has ‘character’ to burn. The stories he tells through his music are fully human and utterly beguiling. He is hugely respected as a musician, and deservedly so. Having worked with the likes of Gary Peacock and Jaco Pastorius and absorbing the essence of North American Jazz, his ideas and his sound nevertheless possess a Kiwi authenticity. There is a street-raw rasp about his sound that is at times reminiscent of Archie Shepp, but the flow of ideas and the stories he tells are entirely his own.
 
On Secret Islands, his debut release on Rattle, he is joined by seasoned masters, Roger Manins, Rosie Langabeer, Neil Watson, Chris O'Connor, and Eamon Edmunson-Wells, all of whom bring their A-game to an album of semi-improvised ensemble music that is clearly framed by the universal language of jazz while celebrating the distinct soundscape of Aotearoa.

 

 

credits

 

RAT-J-1035 (June, 2017)

Produced by Jim Langabeer with assistance from Rosie Langabeer
Recorded and mixed by Steve Garden at the Kenneth Myers Centre, University of Auckland, with assistance from John Kim
Mixed by Steve Garden at Garden Shed Studio with Jim and Rosie
Design by UnkleFranc
Printing by Studio Q

 

This music was born out of a recent University of Auckland research and performance project. Special thanks go to Roger Manins for his support and encouragement over the year. All the musicians involved have had important input into the final recording sessions, and have contributed much to the music, giving life to the compositions and improvisations. Creative New Zealand has been an essential supporter in the process. Thanks for believing in our vision and work!
 
Both Catherine and Rosemary Langabeer were essential in making the rehearsals, music, and concerts a reality, and getting us all into a recording studio. Steve Garden’s creative recording, mixing, and mastering are also part of our final music, and he and Rosie have spent time on this way beyond my expectations. Thanks too to the many musicians and listeners who have encouraged us along the way, and a special thanks to Norman Meehan for his support and love for our music.
 
Arohanui.
 
Jim Langabeer

album

 

SECRET ISLANDS

 
01  Bad call (5:36)
02  Rata flowers (5:29)
03  What if (6:01) 04  The big smoke (3:38)
05  Tangi (6:31)
06  Out of harm’s way (5:47)
07  Hinemoa and Tutanekai (7:00)
08  Orakei Karoako (3:56)
09  Freequency (2:06)
10  Central plateau (6:54))
11  Waiata o te Taniwha (5:51)
 

      Total playing time: 00:00

 

 

musicians

 

alt

Musician, composer, arranger, teacher, and respected pioneer within the New Zealand jazz community, Jim began his musical career in rock groups such as The Keil Isles and The Kavaliers. But in the 60s he developed a strong interest in modern jazz, and began performing with people such as Ted Meager and Paul Dyne. He studied at the Creative Music Studio in New York in the mid-80s with Dave Liebman, Roswell Rudd, Baba Olatunji, and Jaco Pastorius. He has played with a number of international artists including Gary Peacock, the Russ Garcia Orchestra, The Temptations, and Sammy Davis Jr. Returning to New Zealand, he founded Superbrew and recorded the classic album, ‘Africa/Aroha’ in 1987. He released ‘One Way Ticket’ and ‘Now I Know You’ in 1996, and has since recorded and performed with numerous musicians and performers, including Nigel Gavin, Peter Haeder, Phil Broadhurst, Harold Anderson, and Mike Nock, to mention only a few.

alt

Rosie is an award-winning composer and musician who specialises in experimental arts processes. She has received numerous commissions and arts grants, including a Bowerbird Sound Sculpture Commission for Design Philadelphia (USA, 2012), a SOUNZ Community Commission (NZ, 2009), and two Barrymore awards for excellence in theatre in Philadelphia (USA, 2011). She has performed extensively throughout the USA, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Japan, and the United Kingdom, and has composed for dance, theatre, landscaped public space, film, a double decker bus tour, and the Tall Ship Gazela. Recent performances include appearances at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival (2016), the Vail International Dance Festival (2015), the Joyce Theater Ballet Festival (2015), Vitamin S Festival (2015), and The Thingamajigs Festival (2015).

alt

Roger grew up in the Awhitu Peninsula where he picked up the saxophone at the age of 12. He moved to Sydney in 1994, then to New York in 1996, where he immersed himself in the creative hub of the jazz scene for several years. Returning to Sydney, Roger developed a reputation as a powerhouse within the ebullient Australian jazz scene, winning the Australian International Jazz Awards Title for saxophone at the 2002 Wangaratta festival. He brings a unique Trans-Tasman perspective to New Zealand jazz, and regularly performs throughout the Australasian and Pacific regions. He is a highly respected and much admired educator in his position as a senior lecturer at Auckland University, and is in high demand as a recording musician, having appeared on more than 30 albums with many of Australasia’s leading artists.

alt

Raised in Auckland, Neil began playing the guitar at 12, won multiple awards at the Tauranga National Jazz Festival at 16, and has since emerged as one of New Zealand’s leading guitarists. He has appeared on more than 20 albums and performed with a wide range of artists, from jazz masters (Michael Brecker, Diane Shuur, Mike Nock) to entertainers (Des O’Conner, John Rowles, Lucy Lawless), and at jazz festivals (Monterey, Noum’ea, Vanuatu), to prestigious dates at the Brixton Academy (London), the International Association of Jazz Educators (Los Angeles), and a host of international clubs. Neil tutors and lectures in Jazz and Popular Music at the NZ School of Music and the University of Auckland.

alt

Eamon is an upright and electric bass player who currently performs with numerous ensembles, including Ruckus, Leda’s Dream, Skogkatt, The Liam Neeson Tribute Quartet, and Life Underwater. He plays electric bass for The Rockin Rollercoasters and keyboards in the electronic group Miloux, and he regularly performs with musicians such as Jeff Henderson, Chris O’Connor, John Bell, David Ward, Julien Dyne, Finn Scholes, and Cameron Allen. He strives to play honestly and sincerely in every musical situation, and believes that humanity and joy are the only requirements for creating successful music.

alt

Since finishing his formal studies at Victoria University in Wellington in 2001, Chris has maintained a consistently high profile within the New Zealand music industry. His musicality exhibits a vitality stemming from an improvisational ingenuity that he brings to all his collaborations. He is well established as one of the country’s most versatile musicians, and is much in demand as a drummer and composer by the most respected musicians, directors, and choreographers working today. Chris regularly performs in Auckland’s improvisation/sound-art music scene, collaborates with established Kiwi music pop icons, is a member of The Phoenix Foundation and SJD, and teaches music at both UNITEC and Auckland University. He composes for theatre and dance, and in 2001 received the Outstanding Composer of Original Music Award at the Chappman Tripp Theatre Awards for his work on The Irish Annals of Aotearoa.

 

 

liner notes

 

SECRET ISLANDS

When asked to comment on the general quality of the players emerging from the Jazz Schools, a seasoned New York veteran (who shall remain nameless) said, “Man, they’re all great players. They have chops to burn, but they lack character, and you can’t teach that. You get it inch by inch from experience”. Perhaps Lester Young put it best when he said, ‘I hear the notes, but what‘s your story’.
 
Jim Langabeer has ‘character’ to burn, and the stories he tells through his music are fully human and utterly beguiling. He is hugely respected as a musician, and deservedly so. Having worked with the likes of Gary Peacock and Jaco Pastorius and absorbing the essence of North American Jazz, his ideas and his sound nevertheless possess a Kiwi authenticity. There is a street-raw rasp about his sound that is at times reminiscent of Archie Shepp, but the flow of ideas—the stories he tells—are entirely his own.
 
Comfortable in his own space, Jim incorporates everything from the avant-garde to indigenous music without a hint of contrivance. Such references sit easily within his music because they’re not affectations—they come from the heart, wholly integrated into his musical language through personal experience.
 
Whether Jim is playing flutes or reeds, everything serves the composition. He rarely indulges in wild flurries of notes because his stories are usually heard in the spaces between. His writing possesses an over-arching logic that gives his ensemble the liberty to move with complete freedom, and the line-up on this recording takes full advantage.
 
Rosie Langabeer is a leading avant-gardist and experimental musician who crafts compelling filigree and rich beauty into her music. A gifted composer and bandleader in her own right, she is equally at home as an ensemble player, moving between richly dissonant voicings to tight arpeggiated runs with consummate ease.
 
Roger Manins needs no introduction. While alto saxophone isn’t his main horn, he is extraordinarily fluent on the instrument, and his playing on this album is as good as anything we’ve heard from him to date.
 
On guitar and pedal steel, Neil Watson brings a mix of blues, Jazz punk, and avant-garde. An iconoclast at heart, his ‘take-no-prisoners’ musicality brings a wry mix of danger and wit that is enthusiastically, perhaps even gleefully marked by the accomplished mastery of drummer Chris O’Connor, a musician with ears as big as saucers and a musical heart that pumps relentlessly in support of every project he’s associated with, be it pop or the most ‘out there’ improv gig.
 
Completing the line-up is Eamon Edmundson-Wells, a versatile young bass player most often found in the company of experimental musicians, and a musician who plays with a musical maturity and understanding that belies his years.
 
John Fenton, May 2017

reviews

 

Two things immediately come to mind with this exceptional, challenging and rewarding album: Given his manifest talent which he has gifted to others' albums why has Jim Langabeer's name so rarely appeared as a leader on New Zealand albums? (Is this his first?)
 
And that while this improvised music clearly has reference points in jazz it does not overtly appear on the Rattle Jazz imprint. (It seems to in a microscopic reference).
 
Both of these things are important because by removing the “jazz” reference it might open the door for an audience prepared to accept the breadth and depth of what is here – from the woozy atmospheric ballad Rata Flowers to the harmolodic influences on the thrilling Big Smoke – and the stateless nature of many of these pieces.
 
Neil Watson's shimmering guitar and Rosie Langabeer's Fender Rhodes add softness to Rata Flowers while saxophonist Langabeer stretches out in and around; Freequency opens with tense drumming from Chris O'Connor which allude to the traditions of the Pacific before searing sheetmetal guitar enters the fray; Tangi has an appropriate and beautifully dark, ethereal and disembodied feel thanks to Eamon Edmundson-Welles' arco bass, Rosie Langabeer's disconcerting piano and the woody alto tone . . .
 
The album opens with Jim Langabeer on putorino, thus establish both location and intent, and the piece (entitled Bad Call) gently opens itself up on a collection which reference Aotearoa New Zealand evocatively and with gentle nuance.
 
Rosie Langabeer's background in sound design is a key element here are her presence gives texture and atmosphere to many of the 11 pieces, but the centre of this remains Jim Langabeer (tenor, flutes) and alto saxophonist Roger Manins who share a rare synergy but also leave space for others likeWatson's gorgeous pedal steel playing to nudge the music into other directions (check that gorgeous Rata Flowers).
 
Those with an ear to long history of jazz may hear references to the construction of pieces by famous saxophone quartets or the stately elegance of Ellington, the free jazz of America in the early Seventies, eerie soundtracks, Maori waiata and so much more.
 
None of these influences or elements are overstated or deployed merely for effect (the seven minute centrepiece Hinemoa and Tutanekai sounds ageless) and the result is an album of extraordinary scope . . . and Central Plateau towards the end has an assured sense of open space, grandeur, increasing fury and mystery entirely befitting its title.
 
Highly recommended.
 
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