ARTbop talks to Hank Marvin about Gypsy Jazz

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Gypsy Jazz, the music inspired by Django Reinhardt, will be performed by Hank Marvin and his quartet at Baycourt, Tauranga on 18th November 2015 as part of an Australian and New Zealand tour.

It’s Labour Day Monday in Tauranga, the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand; it’s warm and sunny but Tauranga based musician Robbie Laven and I are in the darkened studio of ARTbop’s Dhaivat Mehta. It’s been a busy and exciting weekend in Tauranga as Labour Weekend hosts the middle programme of the Tauranga Arts Festival. Why did I mention the weather? Saturday was ghastly, cold, wet and raining but even that couldn’t detract from the creativity of local art collective The Incubator’s commemoration of 150 years of Alice in Wonderland despite my having to walk round the Strand in a raincoat and my “gardening hat”.  So ironically while the sun shines outside today Robbie, Dhaivat and I are “indoors”. We’re waiting to ring over to Australia to talk to Hank Marvin who, with his quartet, is again bringing the Django Reinhardt inspired Gypsy Jazz music to Tauranga in mid-November.

I’ve met with Robbie earlier at 18th Avenue Cafe Qvis to discuss this up-coming telephone conversation with Hank Marvin. Hank’s described in media promotion for the Gypsy Jazz tour as “legendary”. As a musician and gypsy guitarist, Robbie is a local-legend in his own right and he’s been suggested to me as the best person to talk with Hank about his forthcoming Australian and New Zealand tour. It’s clear from the ease with which Robbie backgrounds the history of the musical style, talks about the catalyst influence of the early Hank Marvin on the then New Zealand music scene that I’ve been directed to the right man. There’s an inherent acknowledgement of respect from one long-standing musician for another’s unique contribution.

Would I have even been sixteen when I first heard those guitar notes and saw those heavy glasses? Hank Marvin came into the musical consciousness of many of my peer group as the beat-cool guitarist of Cliff Richard and The Shadows. Even then to this profoundly naïve Epsom Girl’s Grammar student there seemed something setting the bespectacled Marvin apart from the parent-acceptable, squeaky-clean image of Cliff. We’ve all moved on a very long way since that time and the music we’re going to talk about is definitely not the Cliff and The Shadows of the long-bought sheet music lurking somewhere in one of my many memory boxes.

Dhaivat’s got everything set up – that is except for the cover off one of the microphones which has apparently disappeared during his practice sessions for his recent Arts Festival poetry performance. We move furniture, look in cupboards and drawers until we decide we’ll use that microphone for the phone. Settled onto one of the blue settees in our ARTbop recording area, Robbie and I wait while Dhaivat sets up the international call and the English-originated tones of Hank Marvin fill the room.

Robbie asks really interesting questions. Marvin’s humour is sardonic, clever and English, and reminds me of my Auntie Winnie. The conversation is a treat. Marvin shrugs off the adjective legendary – but of course he is. Robbie asks about the glasses. Afterwards he notes we forgot to ask why Hank Marvin did not accept an OBE.

Dhaivat has to edit the video of ARTbop’s conversation with Hank Marvin but it will be up shortly on our website under The ARTbopSHOW as an ARTbop promo piece and there will be a link on the ARTbop facebook page. In the meantime you can find videos of Hank Marvin and his Gypsy Jazz online.

Make sure you listen to the ARTbop promo conversation and get along to the concert on the 18th November 2015 at 7.30pm at Baycourt: The Legendary Hank Marvin and Gypsy Jazz.

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

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