THE WAY IN IS THE WAY OUT
Murray McNabb was one of the few who stayed. While great swathes of New Zealand’s finest musicians flew the coop to enrich Australia’s scene immeasurably, McNabb kept the home fires burning – and that’s not just a figure of speech. Among many other moods the music of the late pianist/composer could be truly incendiary, as this exquisitely produced double-LP compilation shows, covering his endeavours between 1976 and 2012.
These range from big bands to solo piano, and from straight-ahead jazz to funk and electronic soundscapes. Even a piece like Magenta, which could easily have been bland, has a vibrancy in performance that largely emanates from McNabb’s keyboards. The enchanting Song For the Dreamweaver was recorded in New York with the stellar rhythm section of Ron McClure and Adam Nussbaum, but the rest – at least those that aren’t solo piano or keyboards – show off many more of New Zealand’s finest players, including blazing saxophonist Brian Smith, trumpeter Kim Paterson and drummer Frank Gibson Jr. If you want to hear how amazing one of the ones who didn’t come to Oz was, this is the album.