Field to add 'serious jazz' to Nelson music shows
Globe-trotting jazz trumpeter and composer Mike Field makes Nelson his home this week as he embarks on a national tour that includes the Woollaston Jazz and Blues Festival on New Year's Day.
Learning languages and travelling to every continent has always been a part of the Torontonian's life; he realised a long-held dream the time he took a 10-day cruise to Antarctica, jamming with a Chilean saxophonist-guitarist in the bowels of the ship and playing gigs at night.
He performs his music at jazz festivals, societies and clubs internationally, and the titles of his songs often reflect movement and cultures, such as Missing in Paris, Streets of Santa Monica or the Latin-flavoured tune El sotano.
The self-confessed "language nerd" speaks English, French, Spanish, Italian, some German, and even started taking Maori lessons on a visit to New Zealand last year.
Field began playing the trumpet at 10 and studied privately with classical performers in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. But he took to jazz after he and his then-girlfriend moved to New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001.
"It was pretty eerie heading down there," he said. "I was loading the car in the morning, and had a box in my hands putting it into the trunk of the car when we saw what was happening. We get to the border and we're telling the guard we're going to New York - he's like: ‘Why?!"'
He was 25, and was counting on finding casual work while his girlfriend studied. But jobs dried up as the attacks paralysed the city's economy, so he applied and was accepted to a Master of Jazz programme at New York University.
"I had nothing to do, but I brought my trumpet with me. I'd always wanted to study jazz and I thought: ‘This is a pretty good place to do it'. It was super tough but it was an amazing learning experience and I never really looked back."
He has since started up his own jazz project and released two albums. After his three dates here he has another eight shows around New Zealand.
"It's worked out amazingly," he said. "It's great to come here and New Zealand seems really encouraging of a live music scene. It's obviously pretty vibrant back home because of the numbers, but there are still so many festivals in the summer in New Zealand and people are out and about enjoying music."
Field will be joined by New Zealand musicians Asher Truppman, Lattie and George Cook (saxophone), Connor McAneny and Catherine Wells (piano), Cameron McArthur and Chris Wethey (bass), and Adam Tobeck and Jesse Hughes (drums). Festival director Liam Ryan said they were some of the best players in the country.
"He's adding some serious jazz to the Fairfield Jazz in the Park programme so the general public can see an international-standard player in a free concert in the park," he said. "There's a lot of artists with international standing hidden inside the programme."
The Mike Field Jazz Quintet plays at The Mussel Inn, Takaka, on December 29; at Fairfield Park in Nelson on New Year's Day; and at The Playhouse, Nelson, on January 2. For more information including ticketing see nelsonjazzfest.co.nz.
- © Fairfax NZ News