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24 September 2020

Mike Nock at 80 - forever an explorer

Mike Nock Image: Mike Nock  
© Karen Steains

Just after the publication of this article, we got the news of a second 'Behind Doors' session with Mike Nock - streamed on Nock's 80th birthday this Sunday 27 September at 10am AEST. Tune in! See also Mike Nock retrospective, presented by the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall on 8 October.

The jazz icon Mike Nock turns 80 this weekend. Normally, a significant birthday would provide a reason to look back, and there's a lot to see in that direction in Mike Nock's career, spanning some six decades. But even more significant is to be able to tune into a very recent, intimate 30-minute solo set, recorded just two months ago behind closed doors at Sydney's Phoenix Central Park venue. Nock, recovered from a serious car accident a couple of years ago, appears at the keyboards lean, fit and dynamic, and delivers a solo performance consisting entirely of his own work plus, as he says in his introduction, some 'made up stuff', all woven into a gentle stream of consciousness, tying together strands of his extraordinary, and continuing, career.

Sit back, put on your best headphones, and listen, - and join us in congratulating Mike and wishing him well!

Mike Nock, solo at Phoenix Central Park:
1. Promenade 2. Ringstone 3. Remembering Joy 4. For Cindy 5. Strata

One of our significant music elders, the New Zealand-born pianist-composer-band leader-educator has had an international career, involving collaborations with some of the world's top jazz artists. An early sign of the breadth of his musical interests was his membership, in the late 1960s and early '70s, of the Fourth Way jazz-rock group in San Francisco. The quartet's lineup included a violinist (Michael White), as well as drums (Eddie Marshall) and bass (Ron McClure). After a very successful decade in New York, Nock settled in Sydney in 1986, his spirit of exploration evident in commissions from a variety of groups, from orchestras to choirs and jazz ensembles of various sizes.

As a jazz pianist, Nock's long-term lineups in Australia include the Mike Nock Trio - currently with Brett Hirst (bass) and James Waples (drums) - and Mike Nock's BigSmallBand. Additionally, there are numerous other combinations for particular projects. His duo collaborations have often featured drummers (from Frank Gibson to Laurenz Pike and Allan Browne), and saxophonists (Roger Manins, and, quite recently, Matt Keegan). Recent additions to his extensive list of albums include This World (Lionshare Records) with Julien Wilson, Jonathan Zwartz, and Hamish Stuart.

Nock's many awards and honours include the 2014 Don Banks Music Award, a place in the Bell Awards Australian Jazz Hall of Fame (2009), the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM, 2003), and an Australia Council of the Arts Fellowship (1999-2001). Between 1996 and 2002, Nock oversaw the production of more than 60 internationally released albums as music director of Naxos Jazz. A biography of Mike's life and career by Norman Meehan, Serious Fun: The Life and Music of Mike Nock was published in 2010 by Victoria University Press.

Further links

> Mike Nock - AMC profile

> Mike Nock - http://www.mikenock.com/ - see also: recordings

> Read also: Barry O'Sullivan: 'Mike Nock - a jazz life' (9 September 2018); 'Repeating the poem of forgotten love' (The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 July 2020) - on the recording of the album Ondas (ECM); Phil Sandford: 'Mike Nock: 'Past and present' (australianjazz.net, 4 January 2012) - on The Fourth Way re-releases; John Shand: 'Serious Fun: The Life and Music of Mike Nock' (australianjazz.net 6 October 2011) - review of Norman Meehans's biography.

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