Album review: Nathan Haines, Vermillion Skies

By Graham Reid

Add a comment
Album cover for Vermillion Skies. Photo / Supplied
Album cover for Vermillion Skies. Photo / Supplied

Following his highly successful 60s-framed The Poet's Embrace, jazz saxophonist Haines continues in a similar vein but expands the parameters (the ballad Lady Lywa a model of crafted economy) and works with a large ensemble on a stately expansion of J.J. Johnson's midnight ballad Lament, arranged and conducted by Wayne Senior.

Some of Haines' previous vocal pieces have been less attractive (the anaemic First Light here doesn't cut it) but the slinky Navarino Street finds him in excellent voice. The piano solo by Kevin Field confirms again he can turn his hand to just about any idiom in jazz. Good also to hear Haines' brother Joel's distinctive guitar in places too.

Some found The Poet's Embrace tame and doubtless the same criticisms will be made about this because of the high ballad quotient. But it is often swinging, sophisticated band music (check Five Dimensions) where restraint and economy is part of the contract. That said, we might hope he pushes himself next time - as on Frontier West here - otherwise the momentum of this career re-evaluation will be lost.

This is within a tradition but Haines and his fellows have delivered something that, though erring towards the pleasant, creates a contemporary niche for itself.

Stars: 3.5/5
Verdict: Measured follow-up on the back-to-jazz career path

Click here to buy Vermillion Skies by Nathan Haines.


- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

© Copyright 2015, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 30 Mar 2015 16:22:58 Processing Time: 906ms