In fact, The Duende was only his second album as leader, the other being his debut Impending Journey in 1997 on the short-lived TAP Records (run by Mark de Clive-Lowe and Andrew Dubber).
On that album he played fine originals (one a co-write with Mike Nock), material by the ensemble’s bassist Cameron Undy and pianist Mark de Clive-Lowe, as well as standards like Horace Silver’s ‘Peace, Old Folks’and Jobim’s ‘How Insensitive’.
Impending Journey is an excellent album – it closes with his arrangement of a tune by the Indian spiritual leader and philosopher Meher Baba – but at the time it disappeared as quickly as it arrived. As did The Duende on Sarang Bang. These albums received few reviews [refer the links section below] and even less airtime.
So most of those who have followed the local jazz scene would know Kim Paterson by the terrific bands he has been in, and on albums by his fellow travellers.
Paterson was there alongside drummer Frank Gibson Jr and others in the innovative jazz-fusion outfits Dr Tree and Space Case, and later he was a member of Gibson’s Jazzmobile.
His reach in recent years has been from the astral-inclined improvised music of the late keyboard player/composer Murray McNabb and guitarist Gianmarco Liguori (check the 2009 Ancient Flight Text on Liguori’s Sarang Bang) to the cooler moods on The Duende which features – among others – pianists Nock and Kevin Field, saxophonist Nathan Haines, and bassists Jonathan Zwartz, Undy, Bruce Lynch and Olivier Holland.
If we judge someone by the company they keep then Paterson – a man whose styles and friendships cross generations – is someone to be held in high esteem.
His first jazz epiphany came when he heard Louis Armstrong’s ‘Basin Street Blues’.
Paterson grew up in Auckland, went to school at Seddon Tech where he played in loosely formed bands; in a Radio NZ Musical Chairs interview with Dubber around 2000, he recalled loving Latin music and cowboy singers at the movies like Roy Rogers.
He lived with father and stepmother but it was when he visited his mother’s place that he first became aware of jazz. She had a large collection of records and in that Dubber interview he said he still had some of her Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong 78 rpm records.
“Freedom for me was getting away from my oppressive family situation, she was a much more liberal person and loved music.”
His first jazz epiphany came when he heard Louis Armstrong’s version of ‘Basin Street Blues’: “Bang, right from that moment it was trumpet,” he told Dubber, “[but] drums were always there.”
He had his own home-made kit and also played drums in music stores, and took trumpet lessons with Lou Campbell. Paterson says he learnt the “secret” of breathing rather than tunes, although he listened to Clifford Brown and Miles Davis 10 inch records.
As he told Norman Meehan in a 2012 interview for Meehan’s New Zealand Jazz Life (VUP, 2016), he was at the time into traditional jazz (“Roy Eldridge, Louis Armstrong, Red Allen, Bunk Johnson, Earl Hines”) but one night listening to Willis Conover’s Voice of America Jazz Hour radio broadcast he heard Miles Davis’ ‘Walkin’’.
“And when I heard that my whole life changed,” he told Meehan. “I don’t know if it’s mystical or what it is, but everything changed. I’d heard Miles before that “but I was into passionate players … and when I’d heard Miles before I’d thought, ‘he’s trying to play like a white guy – he hasn’t got enough emotion, it’s not red-blooded enough’.”
He admits he thought similarly about Charlie Parker also (“too many notes”) but on hearing Davis’ ‘Walkin’’ “my mind took a whole right turn and I was never the same from that day to this, that was the beginning of modern jazz for me”.
At 16 he left home and went to live with his mother in Parnell, started hanging out with musicians, met Nock who was living in a garage nearby and who was encouraging, and when Nock left for Sydney he moved into the garage which he shared with drummer Tony Hopkins.
He became immersed in the jazz life, playing trumpet with the likes of pianist Claude Papesch’s Claudettes in the early 1960s, then with Nock and Dave MacRae (“heavy company … sink or swim”) and through meeting saxophonist Brian Smith, pianist Alan Broadbent, guitarist-bassist Rick Laird (who later joined John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra), and Australian saxophonist Bernie McGann when he was in town.
But as most of them went overseas, Paterson – married at the time – was left behind, until the mid-60s when he too got out, into the netherworld of Sydney’s Kings Cross where he hooked up with expats and McGann.
He played in the Wayside Chapel, which was a retreat for junkies and alcoholics (“we were the band for junkies”) and, as with so many in the latter part of that decade he looked to “the East” for spiritual enlightenment. He found it in the teachings of Meher Baba.
He got out of the drugs and into the spiritual (“otherwise I wouldn’t be here today,” he told Dubber) and went to the Philippines in a showband. “It was bizarre … but it was great, I had a wonderful time, I wanted to stay there but I didn’t have enough money to bribe the authorities.”
He played in clubs for American soldiers in Manila then later did a stint at the Hong Kong Hilton, where he met his second wife, Isadora. (The Hilton’s Den Bar where the band performed was modelled on an opium den, says Paterson: “ironic because …”)
There wasn’t much jazz going on but he did play in a brothel and ended up on the soundtrack to an obscure film, Canton Cowboy. “A Chinese Western with Brazilian music – I’ve never seen that movie,” he told Dubber.
After he and Isadora married they relocated to Sydney where, by his own account, he got healthy and happy, and played in an early line-up of John Pochee’s famous band The Last Straw (when he left he was replaced by McGann). But when his wife became pregnant they returned to New Zealand in 1974.
The ‘Dr Tree’ album – reissued in 2008 – remains a milestone in New Zealand jazz.
It was then he hooked up with Frank Gibson Jr, guitarist Martin Winch, percussionist John Banks, bassist Bob Jackson, and McNabb to found the acclaimed fusion band Dr Tree.
The music was a tough form of fusion inspired by Miles Davis’ electric bands, the Mahavishnu Orchestra and jazz-rock crossover acts such as Return to Forever.
The sole self-titled Dr Tree album – reissued in 2008 – remains a milestone in New Zealand jazz for its energy and daring, and it picked up two music industry acknowledgements, awards for most promising group and top group performance.
“[It was] the first album I was on when I came back to New Zealand,” Paterson told Dubber. “I think it was the first fusion album ever recorded in New Zealand. You play that album to young musicians now [and] they find it hard to believe it came from 1976 because that music is still kind of current in a way.”
As the liner notes for the reissued album said, “For two years Dr Tree soared across the jazz-rock world in New Zealand then the main-players went their own ways, always influencing, always making memorable music. Recognition of the comet-like career of Dr Tree is long overdue.”
Gibson, Paterson and McNabb then helmed Space Case through three albums from 1981 with a revolving door membership which included Brian Smith, Lynch, percussionist Claudio Roditi, bassist Andy Brown, and others.
Those three albums – reissued as a double CD set in 2008 – erred more towards a purer form of jazz than the crossover fusion of Dr Tree, but the sounds also drew on Latin influences and soul-funk.
In 1981 Paterson spent time studying and playing in the United States, mostly in San Francisco where he arranged for tuition from Cal Lewiston and the up-and-coming Mark Isham, as well as with John Cappola who had taught John Faddis and Chuck Findlay. Cappola had played in Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson bands.
Paterson caught concerts where he could (Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, and many others) and sat in with various groups but had to decline a booking by an agent because he was only on a visitor’s visa. In New York he caught up with old friend Nock, bought a new trumpet and “tried it out in Aturos Club in the Village with the Jim Young Trio. I had real trouble getting out of there, the audience was so warm,” he told the Auckland Jazz News in January 1983.
He returned to New Zealand and reconnected with Space Case. Then in 1987, two years after the final Space Case album (Space Case Three), Paterson was part of Gibson’s Jazzmobile for their album Spreading the Word.
It included the first recording of his composition ‘Tariqat’(which he would revisit on his debut, Impending Journey) and, as with Space Case, the group concentrated on original New Zealand compositions.
In the subsequent decades Paterson led his own groups and played at the Cotton Club, the Auckland City Art Gallery and the London Bar, but was always the team player, happy to be part of someone else’s band.
If his debut recording under his own name seemed belated when it arrived in 1997, it was because Paterson felt he wasn’t ready nor had enough music he felt satisfied with.
He acknowledges that the new generation of younger players such as Kevin Field and Mark de Clive-Lowe inspired and influenced him, and that percussion player Miguel Fuentes brought out his love of Latin music which had been there since his youth.
“For some reason I’ve always felt connected with Latin music and I don’t know why … easily as much as jazz … for me Latin music and jazz go hand in hand … both need each other … it’s all rhythm,” says the trumpeter, who is also a highly accomplished drummer.
Rare for a man of his generation, he is open to rhythmic ideas from hip hop.
And, perhaps rare for a man of his generation, he is open to rhythmic ideas from hip hop which de Clive-Lowe introduced him to (“I loved the groove”) and says jazz must absorb new ideas otherwise it will crystallise.
Kim Paterson is capable of an attacking sound – as witnessed by his playing in Dr Tree – but he also has a warm and rounded tone in his flugelhorn and trumpet playing, ideally suited to playing material in the manner of Miles Davis’s early years, his original ballads and Latin tunes.
As with most New Zealand jazz musicians Paterson passes the torch through teaching, working with younger musicians and accepting them as equals on the journey. And through his daughter Mareea, a bassist who was in the US alt-rock band Veruca Salt, Australia’s End of Fashion and back home has played with Tim Finn and Dave Dobbyn.
A glance at Kim Paterson’s Facebook page is illuminating and a clue to the deeper man: Meher Baba, Rumi and other philosophical thinkers are referenced alongside Fred Astaire, Woody Shaw and Max Roach.
“I don’t discount anything,” he told Andrew Dubber more than 15 years ago. “Thinking kills music, you shouldn’t have to analyse … go with the rhythm, listen with your ears and just go with the story.”
In the preparation of this article Graham Reid is indebted to the online interview by Andrew Dubber (https://www.mixcloud.com/dubber/musical-chairs-kim-paterson/), AudioCulture articles, the archive of Dennis Huggard, and Norman Meehan’s New Zealand Jazz Life (Victoria University Press, 2016)