Press Release – Rodger Fox Big Band
It’s taken blood, sweat and tears to get Mike Stern back to New Zealand but jazz supremo Rodger Fox has achieved it.
Mike Stern toured as guitarist for Blood, Sweat and Tears in 1973 and has never had the chance to return. However, an approach last year by Fox persuaded one of the world’s greatest guitarists to come back. “He was familiar with my big band and was keen to be a part of our 40th anniversary tour,” Rodger says.
Since coming to New Zealand as a young performer, Stern has become one of the pre-eminent jazz and rock guitarists of the times. He has performed with such legendary musicians as Miles Davis and The Brecker Brothers, and has also enjoyed a stellar solo career. Stern is acknowledged as a musician who has fused the gap between jazz and rock. “He has that rock energy about him and, when he plays jazz, it’s like being at a rock concert. He’s a ferocious performer,” says Mr. Fox.
Stern will be playing his original music arranged for guitar and the big band. It features touches of New Orleans inspired rock and blues – his two main genres.
“Mike is one of the most versatile musicians who is in the rock tradition but understands the medium of jazz,” says Mr. Fox. “His performance gives the audience and band the rare exposure of seeing and working with an artist of this stature. The best way to enhance your own performance is to be around and perform with players such as Mike,” he says.
A master of showmanship, Stern establishes an instant connection with his audience by constantly engaging with them, and is able to translate all of the emotions in his music to his overall performance.
While in New Zealand, Stern is taking master classes in Wellington and Palmerston North. He is one of three headline acts from the USA and will be joined by Joey Defrancesco and Brenda Boykin.
Defrancesco is identified as the number one jazz organist in the world because of his phenomenal technique on the instrument. He will perform music from his latest big band and organ CD.
Boykin is a one-of-a-kind vocalist who captivates audiences from the moment she steps on stage. She will sing God Bless The Child, Stormy Monday and everything in between. “She sings in the tradition of Aretha Franklin and Etta James but is equally at home singing the Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald songbooks. She has an incredible stage presence,” says Mr. Fox.
The tour will mark the first time Stern, Defrancesco and Boykin will perform with the Rodger Fox Wellington Jazz Orchestra as a trio.
“These are legendary artists that are at the top of their game, performing at a level that isn’t always heard in New Zealand,” says Mr. Fox.
“Their willingness to come here from busy schedules in the United States shows their respect for the band and the desire to take part in these anniversary concerts. They’d normally tour with their own bands but they have confidence in the Big Band to provide the level of performance they need,” he says.
All funds raised will go towards Rodger’s ultimate goal – next year he’s planning to take the big band to the UK to record at the famous Abbey Road Studios and perform at major jazz festivals.
September 5 – Wellington, Opera House