It's hard to believe this is a school band, no matter what the level. Music director Rodger Fox, a seasoned trombonist who leads his own play-for-pay band, must be extremely pleased and proud of what his students at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington have accomplished, as their third album, Awright Awright, is superlative from start to finish. The first five numbers, in fact, offer a textbook lesson in how big-band jazz should feel and sound. The ensemble ...read more
In July 2012, trombonist Rodger Fox brought his Wellington Jazz Orchestra all the way from New Zealand to Los Angeles to record at the famed Capitol Studios, thus confirming Fox's confidence in the ensemble--one doesn't undertake a trip like that accompanied by musicians whose talents are less than exemplary--while producing an album that is superlative from start to finish, underlining the fact that splendid big bands can be found these days in every corner of the world. ...read more
The superb Rodger Fox Big Band has twice been honored with New Zealand's award for Best Jazz Recording of the Year (2001, 2005), and if No Exit doesn't make it a threesome the judges may have to double-check to make sure their ears and taste buds are working properly. While it may be difficult for some to concede that one of the world's foremost big bands resides half a world away from the birthplace of jazz, it is no less ...read more
Here's a splendid album from New Zealand that works two ways: as singer-with-big-band or big-band-with-singer. The singer is Ray Woolf, described by producer/music director/trombonist Rodger Fox as that country's consummate performer/vocalist/entertainer. The band is from the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington, ably conducted by the selfsame Rodger Fox.
Woolf definitely lives up to his billing, belting out a dozen songs from the Great American Songbook and elsewhere in the manner of a Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin or Mel ...read more
Jazz truly is a universal language, a premise that is proven again on this spirited post bop studio date by two of New Zealand's most celebrated musicians, trombonist Rodger Fox and saxophonist Brian Smith, backed by a blue-chip West Coast rhythm section--pianist Bill Cunliffe, guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Tom Warrington, and drummer Joe La Barbera (with Erna Ferry, another charismatic New Zealander, adding seductive vocals on two tracks).
Fox, who leads New Zealand's foremost big band, and Smith, who honed ...read more
Last year was the thirtieth for trombonist Rodger Fox's world-class big band from faraway New Zealand, and the celebration was marked by the release of yet another mouth-watering banquet of swinging, straight-ahead jazz from Down Under. This is either the band's sixteenth or seventeenth album, depending on whether one includes Devil May Care, a session from four years ago on which the ensemble backs vocalist Erna Ferry. I've missed all but the last five but don't aim to make that ...read more
Having known of Bill Cunliffe only as an outstanding Jazz pianist, I was thrilled to learn via receipt of trombonist Rodger Fox’s latest album that he’s an outstanding big–band composer / arranger as well. Six of the compositions and all of the charts on Warriors are Cunliffe’s, and there’s not a blank cartridge in the canister. Cunliffe and Fox met when Bill traveled to New Zealand in ’96 to perform with his trio and a quartet led by Fox, that ...read more
This is the fourteenth recording by one of the best big bands you’ve probably never heard, trombonist Rodger Fox’s world–class ensemble from far–away New Zealand. As on several of those earlier albums, which featured guest appearances by such well–known Jazz artists as John Scofield, Tom Harrell, Gary Grant, Bobby Shew and Bill Reichenbach, Fox employs a “secret weapon” on Ain’t That the Truth in the person of spectacular lead trumpeter Jon Papenbrook from Los Angeles who galvanizes the secton on ...read more