Rodger Fox has arranged for two acclaimed pianists to play two grand pianos on stage together with the Rodger Fox Big Band (RFBB) in a premier concert tour beginning on Saturday, 27 May.
This unprecedented concert performance is the second concert tour marking the 50th Anniversary of the RFBB and has been organised by New Zealand’s foremost jazz trombonist, big-band leader, jazz educator and producer, Rodger Fox CNZM.
The two pianists who will perform in concert with the Rodger Fox Big Band are the iconic New Zealand classical pianist Michael Houstoun CNZM and the acclaimed American pianist, composer, arranger and Grammy Winner Bill Cunliffe. Rodger has known both musicians for decades, and that friendship has made this unique concert tour possible.
Rodger Fox says, “Michael Houstoun is arguably the best-known and certainly one of the most admired artists in the world of classical music in New Zealand for the past 50 years. In recent years, Michael ventured into projects with RFBB as they have explored a blend of Classical/Jazz and contemporary compositions.
“Joining Michael at the other piano is Bill Cunliffe, whose career highlights include winning the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition in 1989, as pianist and arranger with the Buddy Rich Big Band, and working with Frank Sinatra.
“Bill was awarded a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for ‘West Side Story Medley’ on the album ‘Resonance Big Band Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson’, in addition to receiving five Grammy nominations and being a two-time Emmy nominee.
The Four Hands, Two Pianos & One Big Band concert tour will visit Hamilton on Saturday, 27 May; Auckland on Sunday, 28 May; Wellington on Wednesday, 31 May; Christchurch on Friday, 2 June; and Palmerston North on Saturday, 3 June. See HERE for further information.
A highlight of this concert performance will be the reimagined version of the classic George Gershwin 1924 composition ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ re-arranged and re-imagined for two pianos and a big band by Bill Cunliffe.
Bill Cunliffe says, “Rodger Fox suggested that I recast it for two pianos and a big band, featuring the great Michael Houstoun as the principal pianist. This time, I have done something I have always wanted to do, to bring out the Jazz and Latin aspects of the piece.
“I’ve played Rhapsody dozens of times, having first played it at 17 with my high school concert band. It’s always a ball to do, and to perform it with two grand pianos on stage at one time in concert with the RFBB will be a blast.
“Once again, Rodger Fox has pushed the boundaries of musical endeavours to feature this concert series on tour. I am hugely looking forward to joining Mr Michael Houstoun, the legendary Rodger Fox and the RFBB on stage in New Zealand,” Bill Cunliffe said.