HOUSTOUN-FOX PROJECT: MAESTRO MEETS MAESTRO
FOX AND HOUSTOUN CREATE MUSICAL MASTERPIECE
Two of New Zealand’s pre-eminent musicians came together by chance.
Rodger Fox was in Christchurch with his 40th anniversary big band tour last September when he found piano supremo, Michael Houstoun, was also in the city. Rodger suggested they catch up after their gigs but, when it wasn’t possible, they kept in email and phone contact. When the conversation touched on performing together they were both in harmony.
“I sent Michael a Prokofiev piano concerto, arranged for big band that I’d recorded a few years earlier. He came back to me 15 minutes later, delighted to do it,” Rodger said. “We were both on the same musical page.”
Rodger then approached Grammy award winning composer, Bill Cunliffe, to score a new arrangement for the Prokofiev concerto. Not only did he create an iconic new virtuoso version for piano and big band, but he arranged two further pieces – Warriors and Jazz Rondo – for the national tour which began in April, ending in Wellington in June 2016.
Occasionally classical and jazz comes together through the genius of George Gershwin but Rodger believes “this is the next step.” “We have a concert crafted especially for piano and big band. This is a total creation for ourselves. It’s the first in New Zealand to my knowledge,” he says. “It’s healthy. For too long there’s been a divide between the two genres. We’re now addressing that and pushing the boundaries in music.”
Rodger described the rehearsals as fantastic. “Michael came fully prepared and we met the challenge by being on top of our game. That’s something New Zealand’s foremost pianist does to you.” “He’s had top placings in international piano competitions but he’s so versatile he can adapt to our world just as easily.”
Rodger has also adapted to the classical world. In his teens he trained to be a trombonist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra but, when his intake was cancelled, he answered an advert for a jazz trombonist and his life took a new path.
Now the paths of Rodger Fox and Michael Houstoun are intertwined as they take the same musical journey for the next month.
This year, the concert will feature Te Wero Nui - a new piece composed and arranged by Bill Cunliffe. The concert will also feature the J. S. Bach Concerto in d minor arranged by Callum Au, as performed by the Latvian Radio Big Band. This was originally arranged for piano accordion with big band. The piece is in three movements:
1. Allegro Non Troppo Ed Energico
2017 NEW ZEALAND TOUR DATES: Click on Venue for Tickets
April 22, 8.00pm The Globe Theatre, Palmerston North
April 23, 2.00pm The Globe Theatre, Palmerston North
May 5, 8.00pm The Turner Centre, Kerikeri