Forty years of jazz for Rodger Fox

  • Breaking
  • 02/09/2013

Forty years in any job is quite an achievement but it's even more impressive in the cut-throat world of music.

Wellington jazz legend Rodger Fox is celebrating the milestone with his big band by putting on a tour this week.

The trombonist first formed a first band after being shut out by the older kids of Wellington's big band scene.

"They wouldn't let us play really, so I though if they wouldn't let the young guys play I'll form my own band and that was it," says Fox.

That was 40 years ago, and in that time the Rodger Fox's Wellington Jazz Orchestra has had a few name changes and reincarnations, but the ethos has stayed the same.

"Trying to advance the music and advance the level of the ability of the players in town and within New Zealand and I think we've managed to achieve a lot of that and we're still at it, so hey," he says.

Over the years Fox and the band have travelled around the world and brought some of the best international jazz musicians to our shores.

"We needed a challenge as musicians in New Zealand and the way you get that is by getting somebody that's better than you. You got high ranked players coming to play with you, all of a sudden you want to play as best you can."

To celebrate 40 years, the band's touring the country this week, and Fox has enlisted the help of the Joey Defrancesco - considered the finest jazz organist in the world - and vocalist Brenda Boykin.

"I checked out the band and the music, they sounded great so i was honoured to do it large band to keep it going that long is a fantastic achievement," says Defrancesco.

"Roger fox is crazy fun and the last tours have been brilliant," says vocalist Brenda Boykin. "I'm amazed at what he does, I'm amazed at who he brings over and the service that he does and his commitment and that the guy organises all that and then gets on stage, plays, cat sings and has a ball."

The big band sound was all the rage in the swinging 1930s and 40s, but Fox's 40 years in the business proves it's a genre that isn't dead yet.

And he's not close to retiring.

"As long as I've got breath and I'm standing I'll be hustling around the traps somewhere trying to encourage people to like the music, so until I fold basically," says Fox.

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source: newshub archive