October 8, 2016
I’m not a jazz aficionado so I won’t attempt to pick apart the smooth, masterful playing of these world-class musicians, so tightly together and inspired they could stage something they’d never done before: play electric for the festival instead of their usual acoustic, swap the grand piano for two keyboards, an array of buttons and knobs etc. “You’re part of the experiment,” Mike Noke disarmingly warned us, “so we’re all in this together. If you have seatbelts, tighten them.”
I’m pretty sure the audience was up for it– there was a cool, smoky vibe, 9.30pm on a Friday night in Havelock, heads dipped in time, feet tapped, folk warmed and smiled as the music shifted between the registers of the familiar and capricious. Mike himself grinned. “I like being on the edge—you get to that age when you think ‘What the hell!’”
I particularly enjoyed their experimental piece, which moved from plugged-in jazz to more electronic, atmospheric riffs that created its own inimitable soundscape. I found it engagingly lovely to witness Mike’s joyous, playful ease and the fabulous talents of bassist Brett Hirst and drummer James Waples. Very cool.
The Mike Noke Trio are playing again tonight at the Blyth Performing Arts Centre with the classical NZTrio in their combined musical celebration Vicissitudes.