As pockets of new jazz scenes emerge around the world, it’s apparent that New Zealand’s bubbling microcosm in Wellington interprets the genre through a unique lens. Clear Path Ensemble bottles the energy of that burgeoning movement and distils it into moody morsels of differing styles. From electric jazz to ambient, experimental, house and funk – it’s a DIY, jam-session attitude towards composition, as the band members freely cherry-pick from a vast orchard of influences. Citing inspiration from 70s ECM catalogue, the ensemble channels the “expansive and astral” elements of electric jazz, with an introspective dynamic. At times it’s fused with catchy synth hooks, smooth basslines and shuffling beats, while other tracks morph into moody electronic soundscapes, and even Sun Ra-esque free jazz.
Led by percussionist Cory Champion, the band released their debut self-titled album with HHV in 2020, followed by a headline performance at the 2021 Wellington Jazz Festival. Champion has played drums alongside some of New Zealand’s most revered contemporary musicians (Lord Echo, Lucien Johnson and Mara TK to name a few), and also produces leftfield deep house and techno under the name Borrowed cs, which partly informs the ensemble’s electronic production.
1. Solar Eclipse
2. Sunrise Motif
3. Plazma Plaza
4. Talking to Water