Saturday, November 09, 2013

RIP Bob Gillett

 The Brew featuring  Doug Jerebine, Bob Gillett (2nd left), Tommy Ferguson,
John 'Yuk' Harrison and Graeme Willoughby.
Musician Bob Gillett has passed away - Audioculture say via Twitter: "Very sad to see the passing of the great saxman, producer and arranger Bob Gillett, who passed away this morning on Waiheke."

From Newstalk ZB: "American-born jazzman Bob Gillett, who was recognised as a giant of the New Zealand jazz scene, has died at his home on Waiheke Island this morning.

The saxophonist, bandleader, arranger and record producer arrived in Auckland in 1962, having led an 18-piece army band in Europe during the war and a member of the Stan Kenton Orchestra for two years.; and immediately made an impression on the local music scene, influencing such people as Bernie Allen, Claude Papesch, Alan Broadbent, and Mike Nock.

Mr Gillett formed his own radio band, was a musical director for some of the early TV pop shows, and produced Ray Columbus and others in the recording studio.

In 1972 Bob Gillett returned to the States for a holiday but encountered visa problems on trying to return to New Zealand and did not come back for 20 years. Gillett was 88."

Via "The Brew are recognised as being New Zealand's first 'Underground' band. They were started in 1967 by Bob Gillett, who had decided to form a band capable of playing a new kind of music, unlike anything that was currently being played. Bob had originally come from Santa Ana, California and arrived in New Zealand around 1960. After playing many jazz gigs he decided to form his own band.

Bob recruited Doug Jerebine, who was keen to experiment with new sounds and equipment [prior to this Gillett employed Jerebine to work with his 18-piece New Zealand Broadcasting Service band, backing some of the top pop singers in the country - source].

Doug was a guitar wizard and had previously played with the Embers. Andy Shackleton of the Premiers was originally recruited to play drums, but never made it past rehearsals, before being replaced by Charles Gray and Puni came in on bass, having arrived in Auckland as a member of the Invaders. Tommy Ferguson wanted to be part of the experiment as the vocalist. There were no rules, they just wanted to create a sound that was not rock, pop, blues or jazz.

They were approached by the Tea Council to record a jingle to promote Tea to the teens. The council had been trying for months to succeed with their promotions, but had been unsuccessful. This association was where their name was derived from - the Brew. Rather than write a jingle they recorded the old standard "Tea For Two". At the same time they recorded "Bengal Tiger" [with Ray Woolf on vocals]. This single, in 1967, was the only release for the group.

On the strength of this single they secured the residency job at the new Picasso nightclub. Gray left and was replaced by Graeme Willoughby, who had begun his career as a member of the Truetones. The Truetones also having Eddie Low and Teddy Toi as members. Solomon also left and was replaced by John 'Yuk' Harrison on bass. With Gillett's influence, Jerebine started playing Sitar in the band.

About halfway through the band's life, John 'Yuk' Harrison left, to be replaced by Harvey Mann. Harvey was dissatisfied with the direction that the Underdogs were going and he wanted to be with the group he thought was the ultimate band at the time. Other musicians to pass through the group were drummers Jon Drinkwater, Ian Thompson from the Dark Ages and the Underdogs, as well as Bruno Lawrence.

After Tommy Ferguson left the Brew, the reformed line-up consisted of Bob Gillett on drums and percussion, Doug Jerebine on bass guitar, Harvey Mann on lead guitar (with a regular body and a bass neck), and Archie Bowie, from the Magee St line-up of the Underdogs, on vocals and harp. Archie stayed for about nine months and was replaced by another singer, Murray Grindley, also from the Underdogs.

Tommy Ferguson had previously been with the Astrobeats in 1965. They released a single called "Jenka Rock". He went solo after the Brew and released two singles during 1968 and 1969, "9 Miles From Nowhere"/"Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" and "Something Bad On My Mind"/"Shoot 'Em Up Baby".

Bob Gillett later formed a band called Breeze in 1971, which included Sonny Day, Dave Shepherd, Steve Wilson and Brett Neilsen. He later ended up in Space Farm."

In 2007, Radio NZ got Keith Newman to talk to Gillett for Musical Chairs, sadly this piece is no longer online Now back online, listen here...

Newman says Gillett started out in big bands touring with Stan Kenton and Anita O'Day, and played with Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

"Bob Gillett produced and arranged for the likes of the Rumour and Ray Columbus, formed The Brew and was a member of the Underdogs.

Bob Gillett blew a mean sax and bought with him a host of musical influences from be bop to classical when he arrived in New Zealand from the USA in 1960. 

A band leader and arranger, Gillett took the reins of the broadcasting service big band, inspiring them and a host of other local rock and pop musicians to put some soul into the kiwi sound. 

Music reporter Keith Newman visited Bob Gillett at his home on Waiheke Island for Radio New Zealand National's New Zealand Music profile show Musical Chairs. March 2007."

When Jerebine returned to playing live in New Zealand a few years back, he used Bob's son Miles as his drummer. 

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