As we chug into the winter on a cold train, the atmosphere at Lovebite
one Thursday eve in May blossomed with warmth and light. Mark
Lockett’s “Emerging” series strives to bring new gems to light, buffing
them to a brilliant shine, and the night of the 19th shone brightly indeed.
The Baileigh Sparkes quartet—a band with a 50:50 gender composition
mirroring that of our home, the Earth—opened the evening with Baileigh
behind the drum kit, Phoebe Johnson on the bass guitar, Jake
Baxendale handling tenor sax duties, and Gus Reece on guitar.
Hawkes-Bay-born-and-raised Baileigh moved to Wellington initially to
study at the School of Music. Here she explored jazz for the first time,
and was hooked immediately by its freedom and its versatility.
A big jazz-funk fan, Baileigh chose a fun and funky set. Even well-known
standards were spiced up with funk, fresh ideas boosting them into new
realms. Each of the four latter-day hep cats on stage slipped his or her
own spicy solo into the simmering stew. The dish was delicious.
Baileigh’s sound was well-articulated, with a good range of technique
and a willingness to listen and to support: all the skills needed for a solid
rhythm section. This braveheart in long curly hair sent a message out to
every woman in the audience: be yourself and have fun.
And then there was a boy, a very strange, enchanted boy. Alex Trask
began his musical journey as many kids do: with piano lessons. Unlike
most, Alex persisted, not with the ivories, but with a bright and shiny
saxophone. Now a Wellington School of Music student, he is very active
in extracurricular activities and can be seen regularly on stages all over
That night Alex got together with drummer Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa,
guitarist Lockie Bennet, and Dan Yeabsley on double bass to play a
handful of his original compositions and two jazz standards.
One of these originals, fresh from the press and performed for the first
time for the “lucky or maybe unlucky” audience, referenced the water
world Caladan of Dune fame, home to House Atreides. As it transpired,
the audience was very lucky indeed.
Despite namechecking Caladan directly, the piece spoke more to
“thoughts of water and feeling home”, said Alex. And in the best tradition
of modal jazz, it oscillated serenely between chords as the melody
rippled through the sea of sound, solos drifting in and out. Then the
drums, rhythmically buoyed up by the assembled players, brought—with
their final strokes—everyone back to shore.
The audience responded with heart-warming applause and loud cheers,
clearly lovebitten. Some could not resist dancing. What else does one
need on a cold, dark night but a good drink, good company, good
By Charlie Queen
Photos by Kathryn James McBeath