Two trios break barriers

A near-capacity house gave enthusiastic applause to both the Mike Nock Trio and the NZTrio stellar performances at the Glenroy Auditorium last night.

The first half of the programme was devoted to the Nock Trio's classical and free improvised jazz, including numbers that were variously remembered in their original form before being thoroughly embellished with some prettily swung melodic and rhythmic improvisations from piano (Mike Nock), bass (Brett Hirst) and drums (James Waples).

Highlight from the Mike Nock Trio has to be Fats Waller's Black and Blue. With recording dating back to the 1960s, Mike Nock is indeed a New Zealand jazz legend.

The NZTrio presented two tuneful and rhythmically challenging contemporary compositions. The first, by New Yorker Kenchi Bunch, included repeated patterns of rhythms that grow in complexity and volume. A stunning work.

The second work, Subtle Dances, by New Zealander Claire Cowan, is in three parts. Commissioned by the NZTrio, it plays to their rhythmic strengths, using slapped strings and knocked wood in evolving rhythmic patterns.

The second dance, ''Be Slow'', successfully explored a bluesy soulfulness all the better for being succinct. The third, ''Lie Low'', explodes in riotous tremors. Brilliant.

In the second half of the programme, the two trios joined forces to perform Vicissitudes, composed by Nock in response to the Christchurch earthquakes, with a series of variations in which each trio gets to hold the stage and also to share selected variations.

The end result was a convincing sharing of musical idioms, symbolic perhaps of a breaking down of cultural barriers, one of the better aftermaths of shared tragedy.

There were moments of exquisite beauty and others of sheer joy. While the NZTrio expressed some sense of the challenge of marrying the two idioms, they should not have worried.

-By Marian Poole

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