Old-school jazz diva

19:46, Aug 13 2012
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Taranaki jazz musician Barbara Crow

Barbara Crow is planning to ditch her alpacas and gumboots for some singing and swinging when she performs at the New Plymouth Club this month.

The owner of a boutique alpaca farmstay in Bell Block, Crow will perform her traditional jazz-style music, infused with gypsy swing and rockabilly, for the Taranaki Jazz Club's August act. Crow moved to New Plymouth in the mid-1980s, wanting to start a jazz band that would allow her to perform her original songs.

She joined with the late Bill Hartigan, Graham Martin and Stewart Maunder to form Jass Jazz, who went on to perform for private and corporate businesses around New Plymouth and Palmerston North.

"I then took a 10-year break raising children and have only recently got back into my music over the last four years," she said.

While the gigs she generally plays are in "food and beverage" settings, Crow said they were by no means lacking in wow factor.

"I do like to dance it up a bit later on, and I'm in love with the retro look so always dress a bit rockabilly with dresses from the 50s swing era."


Crow rounds off her image with a Buddy Holly-style microphone.

Her love of jazz came from a young age, through her mother and father who were besotted with the big band swing era.

"I grew up listening to Nat King Cole, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Acker Bilk. This really influenced my feel for jazz," she said.

"Jazz gives me the freedom and feel to express my musical ideas. I've always been attracted to swing and syncopated rhythms."

As she works hard to complete her debut album Be Cool, Crow said the one thing she wanted to do was share the joy and love of jazz, which had brought her so much pleasure as an artist.

"I want to continue to grow and achieve, and most of all give others pleasure by doing so.

"It's all about enjoying what you do."

While she also performs solo gigs, Crow said performing with a band was just about the most rewarding experience a singer could have.

"Interacting with them musically gives a singer a sound cloud to float on."

The band accompanying Crow during her August 19 gig will be local musicians Matt Sargen (piano), Robin Wells (saxophone), Simon James (bass) and Phillip Cook (drums).

Taranaki Daily News