Devil’s Gate Outfit is a septet of sound alchemists that have been playing together for nearly three years now.

The inspiration for their name, Devil’s Gate, is a narrow canyon along the coast southwest of Wellington, created when the Sweetwater River cut its way through a solid rock ridge.

In a similar fashion, the band cuts through the rock of tradition to create
a fissure through which their exotic jazz flows.

This year Devil’s Gate Outfit became the Finalists for Recorded Music NZ Te Kaipuoro Tautito Toa | Best Jazz Music Artist with “Jazz From The Underground Nightclubs Of Aotearoa Volume 5”, recorded live at Meow in September of 2021.

As musical alchemists, they transmute humble notes into musical gold, using unique instruments such as Blair’s handcrafted “erizo” (Spanish for hedgehog)—a pot with strings containing a microphone—or David’s “rommelpot” (a type of drum used by the Khoekhoe people of southern Africa)—made from a big tin can.

On the Sunday evening in question, they played their usual gig at Meow, where they are residents. Their set included tunes from their now-infamous album and new compositions as well.

Each piece an admixture of jazz scales, unsettling rhythms, restless chic. Heat them gently while stirring steadily, and you get a heady new substance. Sprinkle in tiny bells, a solid drumbeat, and a measured melody with occasional chromatics and the thaumaturgy begins, the spell is cast.

Perhaps a form of time travel to ancient, exotic lands.

From prima materia the classical elements are derived, the admixture is created, and transubstantiation begins: now shamanic, intense, disquieting, and moving; now melancholic and sad, but simultaneously
tranquil, soothing: a balm.

We knew not where these crevices led until our arrival.

Should you desire to experience this sorcery for yourself, then keep one eye on Meow’s event announcements. Devil’s Gate Outfit will undoubtedly cut their way back home again.

Devil’s Gate Outfit:
Anthony Donaldson – drums
Tom Callwood – double bass
Daniel Beban – guitar and electronics
Cory Champion – vibes/ percussion/synth
Steve Roche – trumpet and electronics
David Donaldson – bass banjo/percussion
Blair Latham – saxophones, clarinets and erizo