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Rodger Fox launches 40th anniversary album

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Rodger Fox.
Rodger Fox.

Big Band leader, Rodger Fox, could sense the ethereal presence of jazz greats Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, when he blew into the microphone at Capital Studios in Hollywood.

The microphones are the same that Frank and Ella crooned into 50 years ago and the Count Basie Orchestra recorded their legendary tracks in the 1950s.

"They’re ribbon mikes and they produce a warmer, mellow sound," Rodger explains. "You can feel the legacy left by Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin and Nat King Cole all those years ago."

He was in Los Angeles last month to supervise his forthcoming CD showcasing girlfriend and sultry jazz singer, Erna Ferry, but six months ago the Rodger Fox Wellington Jazz Orchestra spent two magic days at Capitol recording a classic CD that will be launched this month (March).

Entitled Capitol Sessions with the Rodger Fox Wellington Jazz Orchestra, the CD will be launched on March 17, the day Rodger will be honoured by the Wellington Jazz Club at Westpac Stadium.

In July last year Rodger and the Jazz Orchestra travelled to Los Angeles to record at Capitol and Tri-tone Studios where the overdubbing and mixing took place. It was a memorable session, inspired by the famous studio.

"Capitol had never recorded a New Zealand big band before. They’re very selective about who they record so we felt honoured," Rodger recalls. "It was the best CD I‘ve ever done. The band was magnificent."

The tracks range from the Count Basie/Woody Herman era to contemporary music, all receiving the distinctive Rodger Fox arrangement and sound.

Rodger himself plays Duke Ellington and revels in a Woody Herman track, Just Squeeze Me, especially penned for him by John Fedchock who played lead trombone for Woody.

There’s also Roger with a D, a piece written by brother and band member, Christopher Fox and arranged by Bill Cunliffe. It’s a track that needs explanation. Rodger has been bedevilled by people often spelling his name incorrectly and so this funky track emphasises the D in the middle of his name, and don’t you forget it.

The big band pays tribute to several New Zealand compositions including Song For Louise by veteran tenor sax player and band member, Colin Hemmingson.

Four tracks feature Erna Ferry. A highlight is the sensitive treatment given to Maxine, a number that began with New Zealand singer/song writer, Sharon O’Neill.

"Our Kiwi compositions stack up but they need great arrangements from our overseas friends," Rodger explains.

"This is my 36th CD and a very special one. It was born and nurtured in New Zealand, recorded in the US and has the hallmark and heritage of the Capitol sound."

Recorded on the Rattle Label, The Capitol Sessions will be launched throughout New Zealand and overseas from March 17 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Rodger Fox Big Band.

However Rodger isn’t satisfied with just one major studio recording. Sales from this CD and his two 40th anniversary tours this year will help fund his next project.

In 2014 Rodger and the Wellington Jazz Orchestra intend to record at Abbey Road, London and there he’ll feel the ethereal presence of none other than the Fab Four. You can’t get better than that.

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