Serious Fun is the vibrant and accessible life story of one of New Zealand’s greatest musicians.
Mike Nock’s childhood in 1940s Ngaruawahia and Nelson, and his adventures as a young teenager on the road with the Fabulous Flamingoes, and Maori rock‘n’roll pioneer Johnny Cooper, are the stuff of Kiwi legend. In the magic years of 1958 and 1959, still a teenager, he was in Sydney playing with Australia’s best in The El Rocco nightclub, touring with artists of the stature of Coleman Hawkins, and recording his first LP.
A Down Beat scholarship to the world’s premiere jazz school, Berklee in Boston, brought him gigs with musicians such Sam Rivers and Tony Williams, and eventually long stints with Yusef Lateef, Dionne Warwick and John Handy. Further highlights of Nock’s stellar international career included the founding in 1968 of pioneering fusion band The Fourth Way, and the classic ECM album Ondas in 1981.
Mike Nock moved back south in the mid 1980s, to teach in the jazz programme at the Sydney Conservatorium, and has continued to extend his playing, composing and recording, working solo and with a wide range of jazz combos and classical ensembles.
Norman Meehan, a musician himself, gives us a compelling account of the life of this volatile and creative man through a dramatic period in western culture. His responsive and accessible accounts of Nock’s compositions and recordings provide rich insights for musicians and music fans alike.
Norman Meehan lives in Wellington and is a noted pianist and composer. He is the author of Time Will Tell: Conversations with Paul Bley (2003) and New Zealand Jazz Life (2016), and is a regular contributor to Down Beat magazine. He has worked in collaboration with vocalist Hannah Griffin on setting music to the poetry of E. E. Cummings, Hone Tuwhare, James K. Baxter and, recently, Bill Manhire.