Thursday, June 22, 2017

If you have children, then check out Toi Toi

Charlotte Gibbs is the editor of Toitoi, a quarterly journal publishing the stories, poetry and illustrations of artists from 5 to 13 years old. So far, 700 works have been published in eight issues. Charlotte Gibbs says it's all about celebrating the ideas, imaginations and creative spirit of young people.

Toitoi celebrates the ideas, imaginations and creative spirit of our young writers and artists. We believe that their work has purpose and deserves a wide audience.

They publish material with an original and authentic voice that other young people can connect to and be inspired by and that reflects the cultures and experiences of life in New Zealand.   Their  philosophy is to treat young writers and artists with respect, handle their work with care and produce a beautifully designed journal of high quality that reflects how much we value and admire them.

Essentially, everything except the editing is provided by the kids.

You can find out more by linking to:

Groove for Kids - The New Book by Jacqueline Wilson - Wave Me Goodbye (Penguin)

Award-winning, bestselling and beloved Jacqueline Wilson tells the fascinating, moving story of a girl sent away from home as an evacuee during the Second World War.

September, 1939. As the Second World War begins, ten-year-old Shirley is sent away on a train with her schoolmates. She doesn’t know where she’s going, or what’s going to happen to her when she gets there. All she has been told is that she’s going on ‘a little holiday’.
Shirley is billeted in the country, with two boys from East End London, Kevin and Archie – and their experiences living in the strange, half-empty Red House, with the mysterious and reclusive Mrs Waverley, will change their lives for ever.

Award-winning, bestselling and beloved author Jacqueline Wilson turns to this period of history for the first time, in this beautiful, moving story of friendship and bravery against the backdrop of the worst conflict the world has ever known.

Read an interview with the author:

Published by Penguin:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Groove Book Report: Fighting Hislam - Women, Faith and Sexism - Susan Carland

The Muslim community that is portrayed to the West is a misogynist's playground; within the Muslim community, feminism is often regarded with sneering hostility.

Yet between those two views there is a group of Muslim women many do not believe exists: a diverse bunch who fight sexism from within, as committed to the fight as they are to their faith. Hemmed in by Islamophobia and sexism, they fight against sexism with their minds, words and bodies. Often, their biggest weapon is their religion.

Here, Carland talks with Muslim women about how they are making a stand for their sex, while holding fast to their faith.  At a time when the media trumpets scandalous revelations about life for women from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, Muslim women are always spoken about and over, never with. In Fighting Hislam, that ends.

I have to say, up front, that I really struggled with the timing of this book.  Not so much the actual release date but the climate to which it has been released into.  My nightstand is groaning with books at the present, so I took me a little while to come around to this one.  In the meantime a bomb had just gone off in Manchester at a major concert and there were multiple attacks of civilians in London and in France involving cars, trucks and all manner of weapons.  On our TV's the new cop show Hyde/Seek had just started.  Its plot line predominantly dealt with terrorism.

Dial up Netflix or and other cable provider and Homeland or Designated Survivor is top billing on the watch list.  Fear of Islamic extremism is behind every story.  Add to that regular column inches, internet and radio feeds coming at us 24/7 and it's no wonder we Westerners are feeling overwhelmed.  We want peace.  We want this, this, this Islam/Muslim thing, this threat, these 'attacks' to just all go away.  But we can't escape, no matter what we do.  When it gets so deep that even our fiction is infiltrated we cannot look objectively any more.

Add to the mix the Kiwi/Aussie experiences of Afghanistan.  Both nations have troops over there 'helping' to restore peace and justice to that part of the world and fighting the Taliban model of sexism and oppression, particularly again women. And it is this mode; that colors the brush that we dip into the tar.  So this is why  we of the Westernized Pacific think that all Muslim women are equally oppressed.  That Muslim men are sexist pigs and do not respect their wives, sisters and mothers as they should. It's just so easy to write off the Muslim community as a misogynist’s playground.  Yet within the Muslim community and outside where it is also perceived as such, feminism for Muslim women is often regarded with sneering hostility.

This may be true in the extreme cases, argues author Susan Carland, who actually converted to Islam, as opposed to being born to it, and feels she is in the best position to offer a more balanced view on the subject.  The role of women in Islam is most definitely a hotly debated topic, she acknowledges, both among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. But a Muslim women’s perspectives is rare, often excluded from mainstream discussion for a variety of reasons.  Some of these are because we, as Westerners chose to ignore or look past these voices.  Sometimes it is convenient to look at them as victims of a medieval (emphasis on Evil) system,.  one where these women must be rescued.  Modern feminism has always come from the point of view of the oppressed and the downtrodden, the restricted and the unspoken, so it's makes sense that we should identify Muslim women as slaves to the Hijab.

But we, in the West are, in fact, simply laying our own moral, ideological and political blankets over a culture and religion that we do not really understand, argues Carland.  OK, her book is not the first to raise this.   Beyond Veiled Clichés by journalist Amal Awad also dug deep to explore life from the perspective Muslim women living in both in the Western and Arabic world. As an academic, Carland chooses to go even further offering a new twist on feminism whereby religious beliefs and laws can co-exist in harmony with women’s rights.

he Muslim community that is portrayed to the West is a misogynist’s playground; within the Muslim community, feminism is often regarded with sneering hostility. Yet between those two views there is a group of Muslim women many do not believe exists: a diverse bunch who fight sexism from within, as committed to the fight as they are to their faith. Hemmed in by Islamophobia and sexism, they fight against sexism with their minds, words and bodies. Often, their biggest weapon is their religion. At a time when the media trumpets scandalous revelations about life for women from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, Muslim women are always spoken about and over, never with. In Fighting Hislam, that ends.

People don’t realise the influence culture has on faith, she argues, through examples and through the voices of some of her own interviewees.  Sh notes that within Australia, where this book is set, the Muslim community is incredibly diverse. "It’s so multicultural and yet we’re all clumped together [but] if you look at the countries of origin,"she argues they often practice Islam in very different ways."  Somali Islam she notes, is practiced in a very different way and understood in a different way to practices in Indonesia, Afghani Islam or in Saudi.  Effectively, she's saying, that to us, Westerners, the impression is that Islam is a monolith.  Which is not the case.

One of the main intentions of this book was to change opinions.  Or at least to open the discussion.  Now that's extremely hard, given our current political climate.  As I outlined above, we Westerners almost revel in the painted doom that's been painted and into that paint pot we include the oppression of women who must endure within those confines.  We don't ask the questions the Carland has, we don't even look up to notice.  We are scared.  And even if we did, could we?  We white and middle class would be hypercritical and far too patronizing.  We would judge with our west-feminist eyes and our post-colonial spyglasses.  We wouldn't listen but we'd interpret.

Nothing much has changed, argues Susan Carland. Carland is a lecturer and researcher at Monash University's National Centre for Australian Studies. She has been listed as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, and as a 'Muslim Leader of Tomorrow' by the UN Alliance of Civilizations. She was a co-creator and presenter of the ground-breaking television show, Salam Cafe and is an ambassador for Possible Dreams International. She is a good spokesperson for this debate, indeed.  She knows the territory and ii anything, it’s harder for Muslims living in the west today than it once was. And that goes for the conversation about gender equality and Islam.  No, we really haven't moved on from 9/11, And Our views of Muslim women are even more archaic.  She highlight the Victorian fantasies of Harems, kept as sex slaves by Turkish Sultans.  Women who veiled their faces to create an 'allure' but were never chaste and pure like Western Women.  They were women to be rescued from debauchery and abuse.  The 'allure' has faded but the need to be 'saved' seems to remain, Carland says.  She wanted to get an 'in my shoes' perspective so when interviewing Muslim women, as a Muslim woman, she asked the "Why do you wear hijab?" "Do you feel oppressed?" "Does your husband make you wear that?" "Why does your religion command FGM?”

“The stereotype of Muslim women is that they’re meek and submissive. So they’re seen as a weaker target.  It’s Muslim women and kids in Muslim school uniforms who are more likely to be targeted with Islamophobia. Her findings are both surprising and acceptable.  There are some women in her interviews that talk abut the benefits of sisterhood.  This is true of many African variants.  Women work and cook together and spend many hours in the exclusive company of other women.  In doing so they have company, friendships, strength.  They learn skills, make bonds and are in no way as vulnerable as they may be living as individuals in society 'equal' to men.  It's hard to know if sexism and particularly abuse is higher in Muslim society, as compared to Western or even indigenous communities.  it is high in Maori and Pacific societies, especially when women are separated from the other women in their whanau and community due to Urbanization.  Anthropologically, this could be said to be true for nearly any society.  By the same token, women who remain close knit due to the confines of Muslim laws and practices are really no different to Western Women who through a need for friendship form book clubs or Women's Societies or Plunket support networks or any other.

And the Ha jib,  Carland argues, is both a perceived tool of oppression and a veil protecting independence.  To some of her interviewees it protected them from the scrutiny of other men.  The opposite of the leers young women endure when wearing skimpy clothes, for example.  Yet, whilst wearing the Hijab in a Western place like a shopping mall or a park, they are the opposite of anonymous.  They stand out, not as an admired individual, as a women dressed in punk gear or quirky, colorful clothing, or even dressed as a clown.  No they stand out as a women enslaved to our perceptions.

These are but two pints Carland makes in her book.  She has many more.  Her tone is sometimes critical of the Western view.  She holds no truck for our terrorist views or our obsessions with their consequences.  She is not the enemy, she thinks.  She's also honest about the fact she didn’t write this book to win fans.  Interestingly, even though she wants to speak out and reveal the soul of her interviewees - some in America, some in Australia and some elsewhere - she, herself is furiously private.  She's also personally uncomfortable with the media spotlight her husband, television host Waleed Aly’s fame has brought upon her and her family. Ally is Australian writer, academic, lawyer, media presenter and musician. But more importantly, he's a co-host of Network Ten's news and current affairs comedy twist program The Project. which has a high profile in Australia.

None the less, Carland is driven by obligation, as a teacher first.  Her ambition is to educate as many people as she can and to enrich the public conversation about women and Islam.  In this book she does it well.  As I said at the start this is a topic that is very hard to discuss at the present, without taking sides.  Add to that the debates about immigration and you've got a smoking safari to contend with.  But if you really want to push all that aside and take a brave leap at objectivity then give this a go.  You won't necessarily agree with everything and at times you'll shout "That's not Me!"  Isn't it?  

“There is this assumption," Carland points out, "that you all think the same thing, you’re all of one mind on these issues … It shows the desperation of the media and politicians to say ‘all of you people, who speaks for you?’ They can’t let go of this idea that someone should speak for all of us. No single person does”.  Here's a new voice in the conversation.

Fighting Hislam is published by Melbourne University Press.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Melodrama - Lorde. The New Album - CoffeeBar Kid Listens in......

Lorde's new album Melodrama drops today!!

Four years seems a lifetime ago for our Ella.  And in an increasingly fickle, hyper-paced world that's a millennium.  Can you believe that when she made Heroine with Joel Little Ella Yelich-O'Connor was only just 16.  Crikey.  At that age I didn't even know how to find the toilets on my own, let alone make an album and tour on the world's stages.  So now for the ever anticipated sophomore effort.  With a more mature, celebrity befriended and wiser performer what will come.  Will we get more about youth and growing up.  Will we get more about social media and the betrayal of commercialism?  Will we get more about fame and the fake bubble it creates?

Sort of.  Melodrama retains the core elements of her distinctive sound—minimalist arrangements and her angle (if that's the right word).  The catchy melodies are still there.  That's important to keep the kids wired in.  And her wry, deadpan vocal performances are still there, too. Another trademark.  At 16 how can you even have a trademark approach?  Well, it appears you can.  OK, so all that's still there but there are now more bends and twists.

2013's Pure Heroine was a wry and cynical snapshot of the 'disaffected youth'.  It was punctuated by plenty of narcissistic and sardonic black humor.  Way beyond the teen years but so very telling of what was currently raining down upon her at every  turn.  In reality, an artist like her had two choices.   Ignore and become a hermit or, in the spirit of most intellectual Kiwis, hit back with deadpan humor.  She chose the latter.  So now we get the same 'girl' now a woman on the cusp of adulthood, entering the big bad world and trying to deal with it.  Not original but maybe her take is a bit more original.  Maybe.  Adele's done it over and over again and will probably keep going until she makes an album call 90.  If the industry lets her.

Overnight stardom prompted by her first album created Melodrama, I think. Fame has the potential to keep creative minds hermetically sealed away from their former lives because their worldview myopic puts you out of touch with the rest of society.  Well, that's what normally happens.  But not so this time.

I'm not sure if it's a consequences of notoriety or just the result of the inevitable maturation four years on but you can feel that the 'inner life' of Ella, which is revealed on Melodrama is much richer and, likely more lived.  Hey, at 16 nothing's happened yet.  in her early 20's something's started.  So I think, for me, at least, as a 50 year old but with daughters I can see this album is more accessible than Pure Heroine.

Ella allows herself to be vulnerable and love-locked on songs like Liability (which has the wonderful word play 'Liar-bility' in the title chorus) and the challenge of meeting someone famous (Writer in the Dark).  The latter is a 360 degree view - the person meets the writer. The writer meets the person.  Both are vulnerable.  One meets her potential fan or she feels she is unknown.  How will she react?  The other meets a famous writer or they have no idea who they are?  But not likely.  How do they react?

Liabiliity also has a heartbreaking revelation that she's just “a toy that people enjoy/Til all of the tricks don't work anymore”.  Now that's gotta suck all the air right out of totem to self-love.

But it's not all self-stabbing, celeb bashing and wrist slashing.  This time we get a few more tales - drunken meet-cutes, messy mornings after (no walk of shame but hints are there).  Melodrama is an unexpected house-party record.

What I really want is for Ella to pop up on Graham Norton.  I'd love to see how she fits in with all the celbs chatting about this newbie. I heard her on RNZ last month and I must confess she sounds more confident and genuinely happy in her skin now.  Happy to be vulnerable, sometimes, I guess.  But also, she's sharp and funny (“They'll hang us in the Louvre/Down the back, but who cares?/Still, the Louvre,” she quips on The Louvre) and indulgent about being young (drinking, drugs, sex, even the romanticization of dying in a fiery car crash on Homemade Dynamite).  It's funny because a couple of years ago I interviewed Liam Finn at the National Library.  Directly below a copy of Heroine, which was hanging like a picture on display.  He called it the "Shrine of Lorde'.  There was a copy of the award and several photos added to give context.  Out version of the great art palace I guess.  Also this song, The Louvre, is delicious irony, aknowledging that very point.  It's lush, all baked in a package of digi-beats, overdubs and multi tracks and studio trickery.

Sound-wise, producers Jack Antonoff, Frank Dukes, Kuk Harrell, Andrew Wyatt and Lorde, herself, have created a much richer soundscape, without compromising the initial 'soul' that was developed by Ella and Joel Little on Heroine.  The minimalism was sometimes a little tedious.  It's more of a variety here and I like it all the more for it.  There are blips, muddy mixes, twerking noises and even a sample from an 80's computer game (Frogger?).  It's got layers, so listening will be a repeat journey.

In one way Lorde has more fully fleshed out her goth-witch caricature -“She thinks you love the beach, you're such a damn liar,” she hiss on the album's lead single, Green Light.  Oh Boy.  Whatch out, man!  And one man, in particular.  Her anger is ignited not just by the possibility that her former lover is deceiving someone, but that maybe she didn't know him either but then this is her bitter state.

It's not always like this.  So despite the title, the album isn't fully packed with hysterics and histrionics. It's not Panic at the Disco!  Nor is there a retaliation to being a pop bimbo or a cover girl gone wild - like bestie Taylor did on Shake It Off.

'Supercut' is as close as she comes to a out and out pop single.  It's hook laden and ready for radio.  The rest of the album is not for the airwaves.  It's for the headphones.  It may come out on vinyl but it's made for the smartphone.  It talks to the ipod generation.  It simmers and builds from track to track, loaded with unlikely catchy bits, from the spoken refrain of “The Louvre” to the taunts that close with the reprise Sober II (Melodrama).  Her vocals venture into a more playful, previously unexplored upper register. You get that on “Loveless,” which is a seemingly unfinished two-minute doodle of a song tacked onto the end of the industrial-infused Hard Feelings.  Now it's a happy surprise, as it's perhaps the most shamelessly poppy track but it's still peppered with prickly quips like “Bet you wanna rip my heart out/Bet you wanna skip my calls now/Guess what? I like it.”  It fades slowly, like a bit of a trick.  I had to check my phone wasn't losing battery as the song got quieter.  Nice.

OK, Meledrama is a bit of a unexpected house-party (that will be a phrase that's gonna be attached to this record by everyone).  It has a sort of theme gear around the night.  Pick-ups, drunk moments, fights, silly antics, morning after.  And sonically, it's where the really cool kids are at.  Still no Grey Goose, though.  Or gold teeth!  Post code envy is less an issue these days.  It's a break up a break down and a pick me up all at once.  It's cathartic, dramatic, and everything else you could want an album with a title like this.  And, ultimately, Melodrama concludes with the even more ironic Perfect Places - the ultimate mark of maturity because it's the realization that all our heroes and chemicals will inevitably fail us.  Essentially, it's nice while it lasts but the pursuit of escapism through these means is both futile and sublime.  Grow up and smell the coffee, kids!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jonathan Crayford wins Tui for Best Jazz Album

The Tui for Best Jazz Album was presented tonight at a cocktail party attended by Wellington’s jazz community and sponsors and supported for the Wellington Jazz Festival.  The event included Anthony Healey, Head of APRA and Damian Vaughan (Recorded Music New Zealand).  Jonathan Crayford picked up the award for Best Album for East West Moon, which he recorded in New York with Ben Street and Dan Weiss.  Crayford was up against some tough competition including veteran Jazzman Mike Nock (Vicissitudes) and new comer Myele Manzanza (OnePointOne). 

Callum Allardice (of The Jac) managed to swing Best Composition for his piece Deep Thought.  Festival favourites award went to The Brad Kang Quartet for their amazing concert at St Peter’s on Friday night.

Jonathan Crayford - photo Tim Gruar
Callum Allardice - Photo Wellington Jazz Festival

Jonathan Crayford with Steve Garden (Rattle Records) - Photo Wellingotn Jazz Festival

Wellington Jazz Festival - Classic album : Eric Dolphy - Out to Lunch

Jake Bexendale and Rueben Bradley and Paul Dyne plus friends do Eric Dolphy's amazing classic.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wellington Jazz Festival - The Mellotones

The Wonderful all-Lady Jazz band the Mellotones entertain diners at the Wellington night market.

Friday, June 09, 2017

How to tune in - on the move!

Listen to Groove on the move.  Tune in to Tune In radio (get the app from the App Store or I-tunes) and search for 'Groove 107.7FM'

Google Play

Apple App Store

The Comet Is Coming – Wellington Jazz Festival – 10 June 2017

Playing the Wellington Jazz Festival this weekend are the London-based psychedelic funk-meisters The Comet is Coming. They mix sounds from the universe including snippets of Parliament, Sun Ra and Afro-funk pioneers like Fela Kuti – all channeled through a digital dashboard of synths and crazy sax.  Read more

Wellington Jazz Festival - SEOUL JAZZ: THE JAC & BLACK STRING

New Zealand & South Korea - Wellington meets world jazz in this exciting international premiere.

Opera House - Saturday 10 June - 4PM

Cheer on home-town jazz heroes The Jac as they’re joined by South Korea’s Black String in the culmination of a year-long collaboration. This powerful night of in-the-moment magic melds Black String’s electrifying and explosive play on Korean musical traditions with the cinematic sound of these award-winning New Zealand talents.

“Triumphant” (London Jazz News) in their own right, four-piece Black String are making waves on the world music scene for their fresh and fiery jazz sound.

Meanwhile, “spine tingling” (New Zealand Musician) eight-piece The Jac are a freight train of pure musical energy, featuring members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, The Troubles and the Richter City Rebels.

Be there as they forge a new Korean-Kiwi jazz genre.

The Jac: Lex French (trumpet), Jake Baxendale (alto saxophone), Chris Buckland (tenor saxophone), Matthew Allison (trombone), Callum Allardice (guitar), Nick Tipping (bass), Daniel Millward (piano) and Shaun Anderson (drums).

Black String: Yoon Jeung Heo (geomungo/Korean zither), Aram Lee (daegeum/bamboo flute), Jean Oh (electric guitar) and Min Wang Hwang (janggu/Korean drum).

Discover more: Five days in Seoul – The Jac member Jake Baxendale's South Korean diary takes us behind the scenes of an exciting international music project destined for the Wellington Jazz Festival.


South Korea’s Black String band formed as part of a cultural exchange when British and South Korean jazz festivals decided to engage young musicians from both nations in collaborative projects. Band founder Yoon-jeong Heo had already made a mark as leader of Tori Ensemble – a South Korean band that mixed traditional folk music with cello and clarinet and toured internationally under the Womad umbrella (playing Womad New Zealand in 2011).

Debuting in public in 2012 at the Jarasum International Jazz Festival in South Korea and then at the London Jazz Festival, Black String demonstrated exemplary technique alongside the ability to improvise. The band’s profile has continued to grow, with Black String being invited to perform an official showcase at Womex in 2017 and winning Best Jazz and Crossover Performance at the 2017 Korean Music Awards.

“Although South Korea is not a big country, we realised from different international relations that our music is the most beautiful among various music,” says Heo of the band’s success. “Also we met lots of talented musicians and created relations with them.”

At the heart of Black String’s sound is the geomungo, a Korean instrument whose origins can be traced back to the fourth century – and it is this instrument’s black strings that gave the band its name. The geomungo is a six-stringed zither and its prototype is found in the ancient murals of Goguryeo. It has six twisted silk strings, which are stretched over 16 fixed frets. The instrument is plucked with a short bamboo rod called a suldae (which Heo notes is crafted from bamboo that grows close to the sea) and produces majestic deep sounds.

Heo is a master of the geomungo and notes that the literati of the Joseon Dynasty particularly revered the instrument. The deep, beguiling tones that emerge from these completely natural materials could have been heard at any time since the seventh century, because Korean music has a continuous tradition far longer than Western music. The geomungo is the voice at the very heart of that tradition, with a role comparable to that of the piano in the West.

“The international audience, which has many experiences with different countries’ traditional music, was very interested in traditional Korean musical instruments and praised Black String’s powerful music and performance,” says Heo.

Wellington Jazz Festival - Look out - THE COMET IS COMING!!!!

Brace for impact with these futuristic space-jazz pioneers.

Fusing jazz, Afro-beat and electronica, The Comet is Coming are your Saturday night soundtrack to an imagined apocalypse, with members King Shabaka (Sons of Kemet, Melt Yourself Down), Danalogue and Betamax your cosmic guides.

These one-time Snarky Puppy openers are charting their own path in the spirit of legendary freestyle funksters Sun Ra, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix, making last year’s prestigious Mercury Prize shortlist.

Book fast and get ready to dance like it's the end of the world.  Saturday 10 June - 8pm Opera House

Jazz Festival Gigs: Today at 5pm - JIMMY AND THE JETS

All the tunes you want to hear - and some you forgot you wanted to!
With a killer repertoire they play all the tunes you want to hear - and all those you forgot you wanted to! With all of the members of the band studying at Te Kōki the New Zealand School of Music, you can expect an incredibly high quality of musicianship from these players.
For a great night of music, come down to Dillinger's Brasserie and Bar for a lovely atmosphere during the Wellington Jazz Festival!

Gig begins 5PM Tonight at Dillingers Bar :