The Rodger Fox Big Band has received a standing ovation at the prestigious Jazz Education Network event (JEN) in New
Orleans this week.
JEN is the world’s largest educational and performance event in the United States and is attended by top musicians from
throughout the US.
The invitation extended by the Jazz Education Network to pre-eminent jazz musician, Rodger Fox, enabled the band to take
part in a wide range of workshops, masterclasses and educational presentations.
At the conference, which ran from January 7-10, 2020, the Rodger Fox Big Band with blues vocalist, Erna Ferry, presented
an entire programme of works composed by New Zealanders.
“We received a standing ovation,” Rodger says. “Everyone mentioned it was great to see a big band perform with energy
and power.” Among those who attended the performance were four times Grammy winner, Michael Abene, trumpeter Greg
Bisbett, arranger/composer, Mark Taylor, trumpeter Clay Jenkins and arranger, John La Barbara and other jazz luminaries.
The prestigious conference was established in the spirit of celebrating music, celebrating community and celebrating
endless learning. “Jazz isn’t just about performing, it’s about making music together. We can only do this if we all
join together in keeping the love and education of jazz alive,” JEN organisers say.
Of the 20 members of the Rodger Fox Big Band, 18 are involved in music education. “This invitation isn’t just a
wonderful performance opportunity to present New Zealand music on the world stage, but also includes a great opportunity
for professional development and engagement,” Fox says.
“All our musicians attended the workshops, masterclasses and presentations during the four-day conference and will bring
back the knowledge gained and impart it to their students.”
After the JEN conference, the band will travel to New York to record a CD of New Zealand compositions performed in New
Orleans. The recording will take place at Bunker Studios in Brooklyn, heralded as one of the best studios for jazz in
“Bunker Studios has world class credits. It’s the studio of choice for artists such as Esperanza Spalding, Jo Jo Mayer,
Tom Harrell, Chad Smith, Brad Mehldau, Charlie Hunter to mastering engineer, Alex De Turk who’s worked with David Bowie
and D’Angelo,” Rodger Fox comments.
The recording will be released in both CD and digital form. A video will also be made which can be used in social media
“We believe the project is an opportunity to celebrate the excellent work done by our local composers and the JEN
performance and CD release have the potential to become a valuable resource for educators as well as an income for the
composers and arrangers.
The big band, with vocalist, Erna Ferry, will also present a concert at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn, New York, on
Rodger Fox points out that such an opportunity required huge personal funding. Over the last six months Rodger and band
members raised $156,000 for fares, accommodation, recording and participation opportunities.