Blog Archives

A continuum of community, Chris Bourke

New Zealand Jazz Life
Norman Meehan (Tony Whincup photographer)
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN  9781776560929

In the 1984 “mockumentary” This is Spinal Tap, the fictional rock band was positive about its declining fan base. “We are more selective about our audience,” reasoned one musician. As singer Malcolm McNeill points out in Norman Meehan’s stimulating examination of the contemporary jazz scene, in New Zealand the popularity of the genre is on a par with opera: it is supported by about three per cent of the population. McNeill also mentions that the funding it receives compared to classical music is disproportionately low, and a recent study quoted by Meehan confirms this.

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National anthems, Andrew Schmidt

In Love with these Times: My Life with Flying Nun Records Roger Shepherd HarperCollins, $37.00, ISBN 9781775540892 A Road Tour of American Song Titles: From Mendocino to Memphis Karl Du Fresne Bateman, $40.00, ISBN 9781869359382 Flying Nun Records, the small

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Posted in History, Music, Non-fiction and Review

“Pure, straight sound”, Elizabeth Kerr  

Peter Godfrey: Father of New Zealand Choral Music Elizabeth Salmon Mākaro Press, $40.00, ISBN 9780994106582 On the book’s cover a young boy stands a little uncertainly before the camera. He’s wearing the Eton suit of a King’s College chorister, complete

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A music of our own, Peter Walls

Douglas Lilburn, Memories of Early Years and Other Writings
Robert Hoskins (ed)
Steele Roberts, $40.00,
ISBN 9781927242476

This is the Lilburn centenary year. Concerts are being branded with a special logo – a way of marking the pivotal contribution that Douglas Lilburn made to musical life in Aotearoa New Zealand. The publication of his Memories of Early Years and Other Writings, edited by Robert Hoskins, is thus timely. This volume has a commemorative feel, with its fine reproductions of paintings by Rita Angus and Evelyn Page and historic photographs (albeit on a more restricted scale than Philip Norman’s monumental 2006 study, Douglas Lilburn: His Life and Music).

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Outrageous fortune, Chris Bourke 

Gutter Black
Dave McArtney
HarperCollins
ISBN 9781775540397

Hello Sailor were New Zealand’s most convincing rock stars. They acted like pirates, and managed to look menacing and foppish at the same time. It wasn’t a pose; it was a lifestyle. They lifted standards in performance, songwriting, and recording – and they behaved extremely badly. Emulating the music and hedonism of their heroes – The Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed – they created their own genre of rock music in which Polynesian languor coexisted with the sinister possibilities of 1970s Ponsonby after hours.

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Posted in History, Memoir, Music, Non-fiction and Review

Opening the ears, Ross Somerville

How to Hear Classical Music  Davinia Caddy Awa Press, $26.00, ISBN 9781877551000 At the end of June this year in Wellington, Michael Houstoun presented the centrepiece of his Beethoven Recycled series of piano recitals, in which he was playing the

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Pressing on, David Eggleton

On Song: Stories behind New Zealand’s Pop Classics Simon Sweetman Penguin Books, $65.00, ISBN 9780143568162 Any anthology is a work of exclusion, constructed to emphasise or establish a particular narrative. In the case of anthologist Simon Sweetman’s On Song: Stories

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Tickling the ivories, Edmund Bohan

Piano Forte: Stories and Soundscapes from Colonial New Zealand  Kirstine Moffat  Otago University Press, $45.00,  ISBN 978187737797 What a welcome book this is. Music has been neglected shamefully for far too long in our historiography, either because most of our

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Gamelans and paldongs, Sue Court

World Music is Where We Found it: Essays by and for Allan Thomas Wendy Pond and Paul Wolffram (eds) Victoria University Press, $40.00, ISBN 9780864736949   World Music is Where We Found it is not a collection of essays in

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Posted in Essays, Music, Non-fiction and Review

Songs not lost, Nepia Mahuika

Nga Moteatea: An Introduction/He Kupu Arataki Jane McRae and Heni Jacob (trans) Auckland University Press, $34.99, ISBN 9781869404901   Jane McRae’s Nga Moteatea: An Introduction is a small book that seems longer because the comprehensive Maori translation by Heni Jacob

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Posted in History, Maori, Music, Non-fiction and Review
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