Acclaimed Maori vocalist Whirimako Black and internationally renowned musician Nathan Haines join Latin songstress Jennifer Zea in the line-up for the Best Jazz Album 2013.
Black’s ‘Late Night Plays’, released in October 2011, is her first solo album since 2006 while Haines delivers his ninth solo work, a classic jazz album titled ’The Poet’s Embrace’ which is based around an old-fashioned saxophone quartet.
Zea’s debut solo album ‘The Latin Soul’ is rich in Cuban rhythms and was produced by none other than fellow finalist Nathan Haines.
The winner of the coveted Tui is being announced at National Jazz Festival in Tauranga in March 2013.
The festival, hosted in Tauranga over Easter weekend, 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 and last year attracted more than 60,000 guests.
The award is for Jazz albums released in the 12 months prior to September 2012.
Whirimako Black’s album ’The Late Night Plays’ – her eighth – is sung in English and features a range of standards, blue ballads, contemporary classics as well as material by well-known contemporary artists. After more than 21 years of performing, Whirimako has become a Maori music icon, winning Best Maori Language Album at the 2001 New Zealand Music Awards. She first hinted at a more mainstream feel in 2006 with her album ‘Soul Sessions’, singing covers of Georgia and Cry Me A River in Maori. This trend is continued with her new jazz album, though she has paid homage to her culture with the beautifully designed album cover – a shot of Whirimako bearing a striking and traditional Maori female moko. Black picked up a Jazz Tui in 2008 for ’Sings’ and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2006.
Nathan Haines is no stranger to the limelight, having already generated an impressive list of achievements for ’The Poet’s Embrace’, his ninth solo album. The nomination comes after it debuted at #15 on the RIANZ Album Charts, and remained in the Top 20 for three weeks. Throughout his career Haines has travelled and performed abroad, finding his calling as a jazz artist after “crossing over” from the world of dance music. This is not Nathan’s first entirely acoustic outing but it is his first “firmly jazz” record – a straightforward quartet recorded live to tape with no overdubs or mixing. ‘The Poet’s Embrace’ is set to be released by Warner Classics & Jazz UK in Europe in 2013.
Jennifer Zea is a Latin-female singer with a unique mix of styles and a rich background in Bossa Nova, Cuban rhythms, Caribbean Boogaloo and soul. Through her collaborations, Zea has captivated audiences globally with her soulful and mesmerising voice. She now debuts her talents through her first album with the help of renowned musician and fellow finalist Nathan Haines who produced ‘The Latin Soul’.
Recording Industry Association of New Zealand managing director Chris Caddick says the mix of talent in this year’s line up beautifully showcases the diversity of the New Zealand Jazz scene.
“This year’s finalists have delivered three superb albums that all have the potential to reach a far wider audience than just jazz lovers. The standard of artistry is world-class. Congratulations to all three finalists,” says Chris.
Festival President Darryl Haigh says jazz has been gathering momentum in New Zealand and he is expecting a good turnout in 2013.
“This is something that is very close to my heart,” says Darryl.
“I have had the privilege of listening to some fantastic Jazz musicians over the years and have seen such an incredible cross section of some of the best musicians in the world develop here in New Zealand – in both vocal and instrumental groups.”
Tickets for the Jazz Festival go on sale in the new year and can be purchased from ticketdirect.co.nz. Last year’s winner of the Jazz Album of the year was Rodger Fox's Wellington Jazz Orchestra for ‘Journey Home’.