‘The Brotherman Project’ is a project that infuses the modern big band sound with that of Aotearoa-New Zealand Hip-hop. This would be achieved by blending the sound of the Rodger Fox Big Band with that of iconic New Zealand hip-hop artists King Kapisi and special guests.
King Kapisi was the first hip-hop artist in New Zealand to receive the prestigious Silver Scroll Award at the APRA Awards for Songwriter of the Year for his single Reverse Resistance in 1999. King Kapisi's music and lyrics raise issues relevant to Pacific Island people living in New Zealand. King Kapisi keeps his music ‘real’ by rapping about his Pacific heritage and the hip-hop scene. He uses hip-hop to promote the message of ‘keeping it real’ through your culture, learning your language, and knowing ‘where you are from’.
The Rodger Fox Big Band is widely acknowledged as New Zealand’s leading exponent of big band music and, over its long history, has over 90 New Zealand compositions to its name and has recorded 76 of these compositions. The big band has also always extended the members of the band by working with some of the jazz world’s greatest artists including Michael Brecker, Mike Stern and Kurt Elling. In recent years this has included collaborations with international classical artists Michael Houstoun and Simon O’Neill– Classical meets Jazz – and the Big Band’s most recent CD release Reimagined! The Rodger Fox Big Band plays Sir Dave Dobbyn.
The Big Band would now like to further extend the concept by curating a project that brings together the Aotearoa-New Zealand hip-hop sound with that of the Rodger Fox Big Band.
This project would be highly anticipated by the New Zealand arts community, especially at this time when we are constantly reminded to ‘keep it local’ so recording and reimaged arrangements of King Kapisi’s iconic material would give this material a new and different voice.
Ten new arrangements will be commissioned for the recording and made available to New Zealand school jazz bands and local community big bands. Where possible we would like to present this music in concert form to show the New Zealand public that togetherness can be achieved through this type of cross-over project by like-minded people working together, in this case, King Kapisi and Rodger Fox.
Bringing the Project to Fruition
With the Rodger Fox Big Band in place and King Kapisi’s catalogue of music available, the next stage is to bring the music alive. Fortuitously, Rodger can assemble the cream of New Zealand and International musicians, composers, and arrangers at the drop of a hat.
Their interpretation of the music, whether it is a vocal setting, a small combo or the pumping Big Band will be something for us to own and marvel at.
The arrangers include New Zealand’s best writers for large jazz ensembles and some international acclaimed arrangers for this style. They include:
• Rodger Fox, New Zealand’s most iconic jazz performer, arranger and composer.
• Bill Cunliffe, Grammy Award-winning composer-arranger.
• Torsten Maass, award-winning European composer–arranger.
• Daniel Hayles, a pianist, composer and arranger, has written arrangements for international artists including Steve Gadd, Robben Ford, Holly Smith, and Lydia Pense.
• Bryn van Vliet, composer for the Latin project, Dave Dobbyn Reimaged.
• Matt Harris, award-winning American arranger.
• Godfrey DeGrut, APRA Silver Scroll winner.
The music will be hugely descriptive of the events identified above and very accessible to the audience.
Established in 1973, the Rodger Fox Big Band comprises many of New Zealand’s finest jazz musicians, both established artists and up-and-coming performers. They swell the ranks of arguably New Zealand’s finest big band.
The band has built on the critical success of their five Tui award-winning albums, tours with Grammy award winner, Kurt Elling, jazz royalty vocalist, Patti Austin, Mike Stern, Eric Marienthal, Steve Gadd and James Carter, and a legendary twelve venue New Zealand concert tour with the NZSO.
After 50 years the Rodger Fox Big Band has a reputation for presenting a world-class range of New Zealand compositions through their performances and recordings. Since the big band’s inception, it has commissioned, performed, and/or recorded some 74 New Zealand commissions.
It is important to point out that, over the last 25 years, there has been a quiet revolution in school music. More students are performing in jazz bands than in orchestras and concert bands combined. The commissioned work or an adaption of it would be made available after the premiere of the work and CD release to schools or community big bands throughout New Zealand.
Bill Urale (born 1974), known by his stage name King Kapisi, is a New Zealand hip-hop recording artist. He was the first hip-hop artist in New Zealand to receive the prestigious Silver Scroll Award at the APRA Awards for Songwriter of the Year for his single Reverse Resistance in 1999, which was followed by the popular release of his debut single Sub-Cranium Feeling.
Kapisi is of Samoan origin, with his stage name being the Samoan word for 'cabbage'. He was signed up as an artist with Festival Mushroom Records (NZ). In 2000, he released his critically acclaimed debut album Savage Thoughts, followed by a second album, 2nd Round Testament, released in New Zealand and Australia in 2003. Local sales for both albums hit the gold status mark. King Kapisi also achieved gold with his single U Can't Resist Us, featuring New Zealand hip-hop icon Che Fu in 2003.
Innovation in New Zealand Arts
This project is highly innovative with the collaboration between two well-known musicians from hip-hop, pop and jazz. Each of the arrangers will have taken a composition of King Kapisi and will be creating a work for Big Band and voice that evokes the spirit and emotion of the original music but taking it on a new journey. It will have a distinctly Kiwi flavour and the music will combine the driving rhythms and big band sound with the evocative and descriptive music of The Rodger Fox Big Band and the hip hop sounds of King Kapisi.