Ben Wilcock Quartet (2023)

• Sunday 6th August 2023, 4.00pm Past
• Graham Young Youth Theatre, Tauranga Boys College map »
Ben Wilcock (piano), Tristan Carter (violin), Dan Yeabsley (bass), John Rae (percussion)
Hailed as “bold and stylistically varied” (The Modernist, PBS FM), Ben Wilcock’s latest album The River Tethys includes a harmonious mix of contemporary takes on jazz standards and original melodies. Audiences can expect to hear impressive improvisations and refreshing arrangements of classics such as 1930s show tune Star Eyes and Dizzy Gillespie’s Groovin’ High. Some of Aotearoa’s best known and most impressive jazz musicians, Wilcock’s outfit brings acoustic music which ebbs and flows, with up-tempo sections and melodic ballads.

Accomplished pianist Ben Wilcock is joined by the talented Tristan Carter on violin, Dan Yeabsley on double bass, and award-winning drummer John Rae. When these renowned Wellington musicians come together as an ensemble, they deliver the most dynamic voice and melodic clarity with jewel like compositions, whilst staying true to their jazz roots.

Pianist and composer Ben Wilcock began his career as ‘on-stage pianist’ in the acclaimed show ‘The Pickle King’ (Indian Ink). After playing in the UK, Ben returned to NZ to perform and record with soul singer Bella Kalolo. He also toured with Aaradhna, Louis Baker, and American Blues legend Chris Cain. His trio The Jelly Rolls have performed at several jazz festivals notably in Edinburgh, Wellington, and Tauranga. Ben released his debut solo piano album ‘Goodnight TV’ in 2020 and ‘The River Tethys’ in October 2021. He is currently a senior tutor of music at Toi Ohomai in Rotorua.

Composer, violinist, and improviser Tristan Carter holds a Bachelor in Violin Performance and a Master of Musical Arts in Composition from the New Zealand School of Music. He is a member of jazz outfits The Troubles and The Noveltones, Balkan band Bazurka, Greek Rembetika trio Hypnos, Indian and jazz inspired Shades of Shakti and Balinese ensemble Gamelan Taniwha Jaya. Since 2015 he has worked as a composer and performer with Java Dance Theatre Company. His playing can be heard on a number of soundtracks, including the recently released BBC and TVNZ series The Luminaries.

Dan Yeabsley is a multi-instrumentalist specialising on saxophones, tuba, and double bass. He is a member of long-standing Wellington groups Twinset and The Troubles, and has performed with cinematic folk band Nikita The Spooky and a Circus of Men, Shogun Orchestra and the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra. Dan has also recorded with many notable Aotearoa musical acts such as Fat Freddy’s Drop, Rhombus, Trinity Roots, and Lawrence Arabia.

John Rae is a jazz drummer and award-winning composer. John recorded his first album at the age of 16 with saxophonist Tommy Smith and has subsequently recorded over 70 albums, including two BBC Jazz Albums of the Year. He was the drummer for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and in 2005, awarded a ‘Herald Angel’ at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. John has performed and recorded with many world-renowned jazz musicians including Ethan Iverson, Vijay Iyer, and Mike Nock. He leads New Zealand jazz group The Troubles and in 2009, became the first jazz Composer-in-Residence at Victoria University in Wellington.

The performance will include the following songs:

Aenea - (Wilcock)

La Rosita (O’Keefe)

T’ien shan (Wilcock)

The Secret Life of Music (Wilcock)

The Butterfly (Trad)

Star Eyes (de Paul)

Goodnight TV (Wilcock)

Faded Revolution (Wilcock)

The Expanse (Wilcock)

The Stinger (Wilcock)

Besame Mucho (Velázquez)

Concert Photos

View Programme Notes

In association with Chamber Music New Zealand

Sponsored by Carrus

Review of Ben Wilcock Quartet:

The Ben Wilcock Quartet performed for Tauranga Musica in association with CMNZ on Sunday 6 August 4.00pm at the Graham Young Youth Theatre, Tauranga Boys College. Ben presented a refreshingly original concert along with bandmates John Rae, Dan Yeabsley and Tristan Carter. Most of the material was from Ben's album The River Tethys, inspired by a series of science fiction books by Dan Simmons.

The concert opened with the lyrical Aenea and featured Ben on solo piano. He was joined one by one by Dan on upright bass, then John on drums. They were then joined by violinist Tristan as they segued into the romantic bolero La Rosita. The violin encapsulated the bolero beautifully. John used mallets and hands on the drum kit to underline the latin flavour as we were transported to Argentina.

T'ien Shan then followed with its oriental flavour enhanced by Tristans expressive violin and bells courtesy of John and Dan. This led to the gypsy swing The Secret Life of Music.

Next up was The Butterfly, a traditional Celtic waltz which Scotsman John Rae introduced to Ben some time ago.

The swing standard Star Eyes featured a bass solo from Dan. The band members then gathered around the piano for an intimate performance of the bluesy Goodnight TV with John playing brushes on a copy of the River Tethys album. We were then treated to the Cuban inspired Faded Revolution, a lively samba with a solo from John.

The Expanse was a gently swinging ballad preceding The Stinger, a spirited swing number which gave full flight to the band and in particular Bens piano.

This was to be the final number but the call for an encore saw them launch into the Latin standard Beseme Mucho. The end of a wonderful afternoon.

Much of what we heard was improvised which is very much the essence of jazz. It was fabulous to see the camaraderie, the joy and the trust between these exemplary musicians.

Ben's compositions are varied and full of humour with hints of Thelonious Monk and other great jazz pianists who inspired him. With an ear on the past and an eye to the future Ben deserves every success and we look forward to his return.

Jeff Baker

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