"ZAHARA", A DISTINCTIVE "WORLD MUSIC" FLAVOURED JAZZ ALBUM by Kevin Clark Kevin Clark's two previous CDs have both won the New Zealand Music Award "TUI" for Best Jazz Album - in 2005 for "The Sandbar Sessions" and In 2003 for "Once Upon A Song I Flew" Zahara is a village in Andalucia (southern Spain) founded by the Moors. Kevin, a tutor at the Wellington Conservatorium of Music, stayed there in 2005 while on a music exploration and research trip. The music is all original, with a distinctive edge to the compositions and piano playing, a reflection of Kevin's travels, South African background, adventures and academic studies in ethnomusicology The theme of the album draws on the "Spanish tinge", described in the early 1900s by New Orleans pianist pioneer Jelly Roll Morton as an essential ingredient to jazz performance.- Kevin's research found that the rhythms typical of "Latin" music originated in the Middle East and were introduced into Spain by the Moors. A fiery flamenco presence is strong on many numbers-- complete with "palmas" (hand-clapping) and the cajón -the flamenco box drum. The fusion of flamenco, Cuban and Kevin's brand of jazz is a heady mix. Exciting Afro-Cuban sounding tracks with a powerful brass section, moody evocative ballads and Moorish flavours provide an exotic interest on the CD. Kevin plays the flugelhorn on two tracks. The group varies from trio to ten. Piano, bass, drums, cajón (flamenco box drum) and Cuban percussion Trumpet, sax and trombone horn section Soprano sax, vocals and vocal instrumentation. Palmas - (flamenco hand-clapping) Twelve musicians are involved in various combinations- several are on the two previous albums-and are drawn from staff and graduates of the Conservatorium, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Wellington Sinfonia and the Desde Sevilla Flamenco Troupe. Included is saxophonist Colin Hemmingsen, a finalist in this years jazz TUI nominations, and vocalist Fran Barton. While this independent self-funded album is not in the usual "mainstream jazz" mould, the "exotic" music influences, energy and flamenco flavours make it easily accessible and it will appeal to a wide audience including jazz fans. Superbly crafted by multi-award winning producer Dick Le Fort. "This music is beautiful. A searching and finding kind of a thing. Kevin is like that, always offering the listener something they don't expect to hear. In this way, he gives us pictures of places we might otherwise never find ourselves in." Jonathan Crayford-Internationally renowned pianist. It is a distinctive sound probably not heard before in New Zealand recordings.
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