There’s just something special and rather magical about the great new Jazz releases that have been coming out over the last decade that has really filled our crates with timeless music and there doesn’t seem to be any slowing down within the genre as far as we can tell.
As pockets of new jazz scenes emerge around the world, it’s apparent that New Zealand’s bubbling microcosm in Wellington interprets the genre through a unique lens.
Clear Path Ensemble bottles the energy of that burgeoning movement and distils it into moody morsels of differing styles. From electric jazz to ambient, experimental, house and funk – it’s a DIY, jam-session attitude towards composition, as the band members freely cherry-pick from a vast orchard of influences.
Citing inspiration from 70s ECM catalogue, the ensemble channels the “expansive and astral” elements of electric jazz, with an introspective dynamic. At times it’s fused with catchy synth hooks, smooth basslines and shuffling beats, while other tracks morph into moody electronic soundscapes, and even Sun Ra-esque free jazz.
Led by percussionist Cory Champion, the band released their debut self-titled album with HHV in 2020, followed by a headline performance at the 2021 Wellington Jazz Festival. Champion has played drums alongside some of New Zealand’s most revered contemporary musicians (Lord Echo, Lucien Johnson and Mara TK to name a few), and also produces leftfield deep house and techno under the name Borrowed cs, which partly informs the ensemble’s electronic production.
Says Champion: “for a long time I had ambitions to make this project but always planned on it being recorded traditionally. Ultimately, I was encouraged by a new DIY spirit in contemporary jazz, where electronic music production techniques are fully integrated in the recording and production of great new contemporary jazz music.”