This NZ Music Month collection showcases NZ music television, spun from a playlist of classic documentaries and beloved music shows. From Split Enz to the NZSO, Heavenly Pop Hits to Hip Hop New Zealand, whether you count the beat or roll like this, there’s something here for all ears (and eyes). Plus music writer Chris Bourke gets Ready to Roll with this pop history primer.
For this screen showcase of NZ visual arts talent, critic Mark Amery selects his top documentaries profiling artists. From the icons (Hotere, McCahon, Lye) to the unheralded (Edith Collier) to Takis the Greek, each portrait shines light on the person behind the canvas. "Naturally inquisitive, with an open wonder about the world, they make for inspiring onscreen company."
Long before Ghost Chips, even before "don't use your back like a crane", life in Godzone was fraught with hazards. This collection shows public safety awareness films spanning from the 50s to the 70s. If there's kitsch enjoyment to be had in the looking back (chimps on bikes?!) the lessons remain timeless. Remember: It's better to be safe than sorry.
Florian Habicht first won attention for 2003's Woodenhead, a fairytale about a rubbish dump worker and a princess. By then Habicht had already made his first feature-length documentary. Many more docos have followed: films that celebrate his love for people, and sometimes drift into fantasy. In this collection, watch as the idiosyncratic director meets fishermen, Kaikohe demolition derby drivers (both watchable in full), legends of Kiwi theatre and British pop, and beautiful women carrying slices of cake through New York. Ian Pryor writes here about the joys of Florian Habicht.
As smooth and laid-back as the song, this Josh Frizzell-directed music video takes inspiration from the geometric designs of album covers from 1960s label Blue Note Records. The track is from saxophonist Nathan Haines’ debut Shift Left (then New Zealand’s best-selling jazz album). Here Haines is a precocious 22, bespectacled, with his hair cropped unusually short. Sani Sagala (aka Dei Hamo) turns up to add a rap overlay to the song's ‘acid jazz’ influenced sax grooves. Frizzell also directed videos for Emma Paki (System Virtue) and Urban Disturbance (Static).
On ‘Lady Lywa’, Nathan Haines swaps his trademark saxophone for a flute, serving up a slice of sleekly sophisticated cool. The video captures a live performance at London’s Lovebuzz Studios, with a sharply suited Haines leading a five piece ensemble of seasoned players — including his long term collaborator, keyboardist/producer Mike Patto. The track was penned by Haines, and features on his 2013 long-player Vermillion Skies, which debuted on the local top five on release, and won him his third Best Jazz Album Tui at the 2014 New Zealand Music Awards.
‘Beda’ featured on saxophonist Nathan Haines’ live album Soundkilla Sessions Vol 1 (1996). This 1997 music video — directed by Carla Rotondo — is a woozy showcase of Haines’ trademark clubland jazz, shot through with reds and yellows as the camera sways and swings around an Auckland laundromat. A couple of young women get ready for a night out, an old fella perves, a young Oliver Driver gets intimate next to the Surf, and an equally fresh-faced Paolo Rotondo gets lost inside his headphones and sheepskin jacket.
This short film is one of writer/director Fiona Samuel’s first directorial efforts, and is a stylish and quirky tale of a plain woman with a beautiful voice who is trapped in a difficult life caring for her cranky elderly father. The singer waiting to bloom is beautifully played by actual singer Janet Roddick (Six Volts) in a rare on-screen role, and Desmond Kelly puts in a strong performance as the cantankerous Dad. The film won the Golden Mikeldi at 1997's Bilbao International Festival of Documentary and Short Film.
In this clip from music show CV, young interviewer Robert Rakete breaks out his bass guitar for a jam with the king of the blues. Visiting New Zealand in November 1989 as part of U2's Lovetown tour, BB King sits down to talk about the value of "policing yourself" and paying your dues. Taking up the invitation to name some names, he lists a range of musical influences (the single string blues of T-Bone Walker made him go "crazy") and enthuses about some of those met along the way — from the "good at heart" Elvis Presley, to the positivity of U2. BB King passed away in May 2015.
London-based jazz saxophonist Nathan Haines returns home to perform with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, where he's accompanied by his bassist father, Kevin, and guitarist brother, Joel in a musical family reunion. They've followed different paths since the mid-80s when Nathan was 14 and they used to play as a trio (seen here in archive footage). The NZSO concert features standards and new songs from the brothers. This documentary backgrounds those songs, and follows the tricky business of melding jazz group and orchestra in rehearsal and concert.