Monday, May 23, 2011

RIP Martin Winch

From Amplifier: "Martin Winch, creator of the acclaimed Espresso Guitar albums and former member of The 1860 Band, The Mermaids and various other acts has passed away.

Martin was an esteemed guitar player, adept at sight reading and skilled in rock and jazz. As well as having a great on-stage presence, his work has been audible in many TV and radio commercials over the years - Toyota's Welcome To My World TV campaign being but one of them.

He also toured with various musicals during his career, tutored in jazz guitar at the University of Auckland School of Music and played a part in helping artists create their albums.

Winch was 62."

Added; Interview with Martin Winch from NZ Musician, 2005. He was also part of legendary jazz funk outfit Dr Tree, who released one album, in 1976, which got reissued in November 2007. Graham Reid wrote the reissue liner notes, read them here. "... although they seem to be written out of the texts on Kiwi rock history, it is worth being reminded that Dr Tree won two major music industry awards on the release of this album: most promising group and top group performance. And they were both in the “rock” category..."

The band did a one-off gig at the Kings Arms to celebrate the reissue, it was a very groovy night (the date on the youtube video below is incorrect, I think). Dr Tree's lineup was Frank Gibson Jr, Kim Paterson, Martin Winch, John Banks, Bob Jackson and Murray McNabb.

ADDED June 30 - NZ Musician has an obit to Winch in their latest edition written by Neil Hannan, also online here, and below.

"Our dear friend, gentleman and gentle man, Martin Winch, began his musical journey comparatively late; it has now ended, at 62 years young, tragically early.

From Nottingham, England, Martin’s family immigrated to New Zealand when he was a young teenager. The Northcote College boy used to ‘borrow’ younger brother Rob’s guitar, usually forgetting to return it as he became obsessed with an instrument he couldn’t put down.

Largely self taught, Martin immersed himself in the study of the British blues guitarists – Clapton, Gallagher and Green and their mentors Freddie and Albert King, Buddy Guy, Elmore James et al.

Descending from a long line of British Bobbies, this was somewhat an anathema to his elders. “That’s not going to be a real job is it?” Despite this he became very competent, very quickly and his early years in rock groups included extended stays in Australia and Japan. By the mid 1970s, he was a member of the great Auckland band Salty Dogg, and the zenith of inspiration at the time, jazz/rock outfit Dr Tree.

Martin realised early on that to have a career as a professional guitarist, learning to be a better reader of music was essential, telling various members of the popular music community at the time they were ‘mugs’ if they didn’t become so.

During the late ’70s, his time with the 1860 Band and The Rodger Fox Big Band certainly helped achieve this and set Martin on course to become the brilliant jazz stylist that he was. In a buoyant NZ music scene of the ’70’s, ’80s (and much of the ’90s), Martin did it all; club bands, backing international acts, (Randy Crawford, Shirley Bassey, Elaine Page to name a few), orchestral calls, many, many jazz gigs, soundtracks and commercial recording and teaching – all the while writing and recording his own material.

His work on Jacqui FitzGerald’s ‘The Masquerade is Over’ the 1985 Jazz Record of the year, shows Martin and a stellar band at the peak of their powers. All his skills came together in his 2002 album ‘Espresso Guitar’ and the follow up ‘Guitar Song’ (2004). I know Martin was extremely proud of these records and the well-deserved commercial success gave him a bit of breathing space.

More recently, Martin’s version of Freddy King’s Hideaway (and other tracks) were released on prestigious New York-based label Bohemian Productions – a company specialising in instrumental guitar music, whose stable includes Joe Satriani, Stanley Clarke and John Scofield.

It’s no mean feat to have lived the life of a professional musician in NZ, but a better all round musician you will not find; sensitive accompanist, great ensemble player and rip roaring soloist.

On a personal note, with all the trials and tribulations of family life, of which Martin had many, I only ever knew a compassionate and kind man. His was a passionate life, well lived, and he will be sorely missed by many.

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