Review: Michael Houstoun & The Rodger Fox Big Band

By William Dart

Rodger Fox (left) and Michael Houstoun continue the form that made last year's CD such a delight.
Rodger Fox (left) and Michael Houstoun continue the form that made last year's CD such a delight.

Michael Houstoun and Rodger Fox's Big Band have got a good thing going and, on Sunday, they revealed the form that made their Concerti CD one of the offbeat delights of 2016.

It was Bach for openers, with Callum Au's rejig of the composer's D minor concerto an amiable battle between baroque bustle and swinging riffs. Ben Hunt's trumpet made a smoky torch song of its Adagio, while Houstoun's coolly chiselled finale emerged from a flurry of Latin percussion.

Bill Cunliffe's arrangement of Prokofiev's third concerto was a dazzler. Houstoun was visibly enjoying the morph of glittering scales into bluesy runs, and the band's reed section seemingly heaven-sent to catch the sardonic Prokofiev sound.

Rodger Fox's funky trombone solo was one of many peaks in a sweltering Night in Tunisia. Drummer Lauren Ellis concocted a snappy arrangement of a Snarky Puppy number that brought forth some wild saxophone from Bryn van Vliet and conducting from Fox best described as nonchalant air-boxing.

Erna Ferry spread warm vibes roaming a classy songbook, from a beguiling Besame mucho to the earthy confession of Born Under a Bad Sign, the standout being Dorothy Moore's Misty Blue, in a stylish partnering with the leader of the band.

What: Michael Houstoun & The Rodger Fox Big Band
Where: Bruce Mason Centre
When: Sunday

- NZ Herald

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