Nairobi Trio


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Nairobi Trio at the Boathouse

Nelson Mail - 17 July, 2010

The Nairobi Trio have a sound all their own. They play funky jazz, are loved for their jauntiness, the humour they share through the music, including their own compositions, and their contemporary interpretation of jazz standards.
Last night, Richard Adams, plus violin, cruised the room, popping in and out, on top of a table at one point, all in the most agile of movements while not missing a beat. Stephane Grappelli is someone Adams admires and there are similarities in the fluidity, sometime ferocity, of his playing.
Peter Koopman delivered some impressive bass solos, notably in Duke Ellington's Limehouse Blues and John Quigley's guitar was strong and gutsy throughout.
As well as playing a fine fiddle, Adams has a good singing voice and his lead vocals in a tender version of Chaplin's Smile were lovely, while the trio's upbeat version of Kurt Weill's Mack the Knife was a delightful contradiction to the macabre subject matter. They are a smooth unit, especially when singing in close harmony.
Popularised by the Mills Brothers, Swing is the Thing was played fast and with tons of rang-a-tang-tang. It so enthused two little boys that they were up and dancing, their impromptu performance ending with a headstand. Oh to be so spontaneous!
I felt the best was saved for last, with a whirling Eastern European dance that turned into a swinging My Dear Mr Shane, with the Andrew Sisters singing along in paradise.
To this add a great encore from the 1981 Broadway hit Sophisticated Ladies.
Lyricist Don George was reportedly a born cynic until he fell crazily in love.
"I never cared much for moonlit skies, I never winked back at fireflies, but now that the stars are in your eyes I'm beginning to see the light." Good luck from Nelson for your South Island tour.

Gail Tresidder

Magical night of music thanks to the Nairobi Trio

Manawatu Evening Standard - 2 July, 2010

The Nairobi Trio, Globe Theatre,
Thursday, July 1, 2010.

While it may be two years since the Nairobi Trio performed in Palmerston North, last night's concert proved that they were still up to the mark as they continue to carry the torch as one of New Zealand's pre-eminent jazz combos.
With the Globe humming to their richly satisfying sound, last night's concert launched a short New Zealand tour before the trio take off for Europe for a few months. For this tour the Nairobi Trio is performing - as the name suggests - as a trio.
However, Richard Adams on the violin, John Quigley on the guitar and Peter Koopman on the upright bass provide a silky smooth sound with a solid blend and textural beauty.
The concert itself featured a selection of Nairobi classics mixed with new material written for their European audiences, and, when the standards featured are such celebrated classics such as Autumn Leaves, My Favourite Things or Mack The Knife, it is difficult to go wrong when the stage is filled with such extraordinary musicianship.
With original material that matches the covers in quality, we revelled in such well known numbers as Sacred Hill (a Nairobi classic), The Firth of Forth (hauntingly magical) and Evening Star with its wonderful melody line and great close vocal harmonies.
Some great work by the three musicians in turn, including a stunning solo in Smile, where the bass was made to sound like a violin, and the dexterity of the pizzicato work in the cheerful Limehouse Blues, drew admiration. Surprisingly, the trio attracted only a small gathering to the Globe, but it was one that enthusiatically appreciated the magic that the Nairobi Trio still casts over the audience.

Stephen Fisher

Consummate class from top quartet

- 21 July, 2007

Gosh, these guys do it so well. Like the All Blacks, the Nairobi Trio appropriately attired
in black, took a little while to build a high octane performance groove, but once they
started cooking, there was no holding them back.
The previous evening, the Nairobis had apparently startled Wellington's Old St Pauls in
concert with Hot Club Sandwich, so perhaps understandably, Saturday night at the
Globe saw a quieter than usual start.
The four-man Trio now in their 18th year, are the jazz equivalent of a chamber music
group. Consummate musicians and performers, they read each other instinctively,
interspersing elongated and improvised arrangements of standards like Mac the Knife,
with their own evocative originals. These are complex, satisfying, multi-layered and
textured melodies the band have single-handedly elevated to the status of New Zealand
swing and folk jazz classics - genres it is probably responsible for inventing.
As usual Richard Adams and his creamy electric violin led from the front, showing
wonderful dexterity whether he was playing sublimely haunting solos, plucking the
strings, pirouetting through the auditorium, or working the wa-wa pedal. His
synchronisation with Andrew Dixon, whose soprano sax in particular was superb, and
not bad on the flute either, demonstrates one of those great onstage musical partnerships
- with the upright bass of Peter Koopman and guitar of John Quigley always in resonant
Recorded for a future live album, the concert may not have explored any new ground - it
was simply pleasure enough to hear them 'play it again, Sam'.
Richard Mays

Nairobi Trio: Absolutely

New Zealand Herald - 20 June, 2002

Variously a swinging and supple set, this was recorded live at jazz festivals in Norway last year. It features as centrepieces the romantic seven-minute original Portugal, in which the music dissolves down to Peter Koopman's bass before Richard Adam's violin emerges to parry with Andrew Dixon's weaving sax, and a treatment of Charlie Chaplin's ballad Smile.

Longtime followers will have other versions of some of these tracks but there's also Dixon's new, lightly funky Blue Mamba delivered over a bed of effects and wah-wah from guitarist John Quigley. And the Quigley/Adams discreetly Celtic composition Firth of Forth is always worth re-hearing.
Graham Reid

Nairobi Trio: Live at the McDonald Winery

New Zealand Herald - Feb, 1998

The key word here is 'live' because that's how this four-piece 'trio' (occasionally expanding to a quartet) is best appreciated.
Here the keening melodic violin of Richard Adams, the mesmerisingly inventive guitar of Nigel Gavin and the secure rhythm section of guitarist John Quigley and bassist Peter Koopman spiral through material which owes less and less to the Django/Grappelli sound they established their reputation with.
Gavin's three originals are among the standouts, the collection shifts from avant-guitar and skittering fiddle to straight-ahead swing and, as always, the vocals are an acquired taste. Still, the live energy carries all before it and the release of this couldn't be more timely (they make a rare appearance on Sunday at Iguacu, Parnell). ****

Nairobi Trio: Shelf Life

The Strip - Dec, 1996

Nairobi Trio are an unsung success story of New Zealand music, having garnered fans and acclaim from around the world. Their sound is an eclectic mix of acoustic styles. Double bass, fiddle and twin guitars blend and battle to create the Trio's own brand of very accessible jazz.

Shelf Life is their third album, and their first of completely original music which shows off their passion and flair. Eight of the 11 tracks are completely acoustic, but all manage to convey a certain New Zealand quality, vis a vis the evocative Bluff Wisdom, with its opening violin seagull cries and bass foghorn effects.

Evocative is a fair description of the Trio's music. Punters who recently saw the band described being carried away to exotic locales by a performance as faultless as you'd expect from such experienced talents. If it's quirky, mellow jazz you're after, then Shelf Life is worth a look.

Ken Lewis

Nairobi Trio: Through the Clouds

NZ Musician - June, 1993

This is a good album; a very good album. Any number of its 13 tracks should easily find airplay on MOR or jazz-oriented radio, particularly as the Nairobi Trio (all four of them...) are so well known and popular.

Although playing in the piano-less/drummer-less style and tradition (though guitarist John Quigley turns in some nice brushwork on two tracks) that began with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli's celebrated Hot Club Quintet, the Nairobis are kicked into modernity by the more intense playing of violinist Richard Adams and Guitarist Nigel Gavin, strongly supported by Quigley and bassist Peter Koopman. Also by some astute choices of material (Tom Ludvigson's Do Your Own, Nigel Gavin's Sacred Hill, Miles' Nardis). As a result, although their sound is still satisfyingly 'Lounge Lizard' when required, it's a lot less louche than Django and Stephane can now sound to contemporary ears.

Stand out tracks, for me, are the opener Lady be Good, the aforementioned Do Your Own (boldly programmed second up), Nuages, Limehouse Blues (always a favourite), the beautiful Cahn/Van Heusen ballad All My Tomorrows (an inspired choice) and the perennial Caravan (not an easy tune to refresh, but the group have done so here). There are plenty to choose from, including a few jaunty and insouciant vocals too.

And this group doesn't need a drummer. Wish they did.

Bruce Morley

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