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Levelling up with Roger Manins - NZ Music Month Feature

Instrument Talk Levelling up with Roger Manins - NZ Music Month Feature

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11th May 2021 Print this page Email a friend

Levelling up with Roger Manins - NZ Music Month Feature

New Zealand Music Month is an amazing annual event that celebrates local music and musicians. For KBB Music we see this as the perfect time to celebrate making music and encouraging Kiwis to take their music to the next level!  

Through this month we are profiling friends of KBB Music. These are incredible homegrown artists who have achieved amazing success in their respective musical fields. Through the process of a quick-fire interview, we were interested in finding out how they levelled up their music journey and the instruments that they recommend to budding kiwi musicians. 

Roger Manins

Rog 1

Roger Manins lives in Auckland and is regarded by many as one of the leading Jazz saxophonists in the Southern Hemisphere.  

Having featured as a soloist on 40+ Jazz albums and releasing several CDs as the leader and in several collaboration with others (including the critically acclaimed release ‘Two-out’ with pianist Mike Nock) – it’s safe to say Roger knows a thing or two about Jazz music!  

In the last ten years, he has featured on six albums that have won the TUI award for NZ Jazz Album of the Year;  including The Thing, The Edge of Chaos, Dog, Panacea, Fearless Music and Resonator. 

He has been a featured artist on many performances with Australia’s Mothership Orchestra, including high profile artists such as Maria Schneider, Florian Ross and Darcy James Argue, and was featured soloist for the 2017 Australian National Jazz Orchestra inaugural performance at the Sydney Con International Jazz Festival. 

In 2002 he was awarded the International Journalist Association ‘Jazz Hero Award’, and in 2000 he won the Wangaratta Australian National Jazz Awards competition on saxophone. Roger is an Artistic Director and a founding member of Creative Jazz Club Aotearoa and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland. He has recently graduated from the University of Auckland with a DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts). 

Check out Roger in action here playing ‘People Factory’, a Cuban-inspired groove!

Among the likes of the legendary James Morrison, Roger has played with many wonderful Jazz musicians across Australia and New Zealand. He’s ultra-proud to call Mike Nock an important figure in his musical career, with the two having shared a strong playing relationship for many years.

Roger also lived in New York from 1996-1999 and has played with a lot of great players while featuring in a subway band for most of his time there. He also played in Salsa bands, swing bands, free music, straight ahead jazz — you name it! 

Interestingly, throughout his playing career, he has also stayed in incredible parts of the world like Cuba, where he spent a couple of months playing in a Charanga band (old-style Cuban music). 

Over the past 11 years, he has been the Artistic Director for Creative Jazz Club or (CJC), an artist-led initiative to promote and support original and contemporary jazz and improvised music across the country. 

The company has had the pleasure of hosting countless amazing overseas and local acts. When you’re next visiting Auckland, make sure to check out their upcoming events here!  

Thinking back on your musical journey, what were your breakthrough moments that made you the musician you are today?

When I left school I failed my audition for jazz school and went roofing. I failed the next year too. One day when I was on a roof wondering if I ‘had it’. I had just been offered my own contract. In the roofing world, this was a big thing - especially for an 18 year old. However I decided to decline the offer, quit my job, practice 6 hours a day and see what happened. 

Whether I ‘had It’ or not was irrelevant. The fact is I was willing to take a risk - that’s what mattered. 

I could find out! It’s better to take a shot at it than wonder ‘what if’. The outcome doesn’t matter so much – it’s doing what our heart tells us to do that leads to a good life. 

Now thinking about your gear: what is the one instrument that you will never part with?   

I try not to be too attached to my instruments, however, if I had to take one it would probably be my Selmer Mark VI I bought off Brian Smith when I was a teenager.  

I could part with it though. It’s more about what goes on in one’s head than their instrument. The other horns I have that I love are a Balanced Action Selmer (1940) and a Conn 10M from the early 30s.

 Rog 2

What instrument would you recommend to other budding musicians?

Yanagisawa is a great horn in so many ways and great for anyone getting serious about music. A lot of my university students (on the jazz course) play Yanagisawa - they are solid and dependable, have great key-work / action, excellent intonation, really decent sound and good resale value.  

From the KBB inventory, I would recommend Yanagisawa for any level.

Connect and follow Roger Manins through his website here to show him your love and stay updated with all the exciting stuff he is getting up to. You can also keep in the loop with what’s happening in the world of the CJC here!