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Gitbox Rebellion Hawkes bay arts festival

18th Oct 2020 by Ambient Light
Harcourts Hawkes Bay Arts Festival Show

18th October 2020
The Blyth Performing Arts Centre, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

Review by Rob Harbers, photography by Chris Kiely.

Arts Festival day seven. Halfway through the marathon. Three acts on one night. A panoply of choices. A temptation to gorge, to take it all in. An editor forcing a choice to be made. FOMO on a massive scale. Difficult choices. Painful decisions. And people think this game is easy. Watch an act, throw some words on a page. Such is the life of a roving critic.

Enough with the self-pity! From out of this abundance of options, I chose the melodic charms of Gitbox Rebellion, performing in the salubrious confines of the Blyth Performing Arts Centre. And that took care of a night’s worth of FOMO – this crew were fucking awesome!

The brainchild of master guitarist and musical polymath Nigel Gavin, Gitbox Rebellion first formed in 1988, releasing the album “Pesky Digits” in 1991 (of which I still have a copy on cassette, of all things!), and following up with “Touch Wood” in 1994. Their intricate, but supremely accessible sound saw them playing to appreciative audiences up and down the country, many of whom were probably just intrigued by the concept of a guitar orchestra. And were blown away by the sheer craft and skill of what they witnessed. Some might see this as inevitable in a country that’s made an icon of the Ten Guitars of myth and legend, but it was far more about the skilful and harmonic ensemble that is Gitbox.

After an extended hiatus period, Gitbox (mark two) came together in 2017, born from a desire on the part of many to experience the magic for themselves, having missed out the first time around. For this incarnation, original members Nigel Gavin, Kim Halliday, Russell Hughes and Bodi Hermans were joined by Sonia Wilson, Rob Mita, Doug Robertson and Sam Loveridge – some of whom weren’t even alive when the first album was released! Apart, though, from the matter of a few less wrinkles in the skin, you wouldn’t know it – the transition is seamless, with all fitting in effortlessly (or the type of apparent effortlessness that comes of long hours of practice).

Getting on to the performance itself, things kicked off with all six strummers appearing from stage right, playing as they entered, before getting up on stage and plugging in. From that point, for the next hour or so an enraptured audience was carried along through a masterclass in ensemble playing, traversing tunes ranging from Jeff Beck to Ennio Morricone to Django Reinhardt, via Guitar Boogie and the Wabash Cannonball, interwoven with a large amount of original material. Amongst the original material was the locally-inspired “Sacred Hill”, written by Nigel for the Nairobi Trio (one of his myriad other gigs).

Through it all, barely a word passed between the players, communication taking the shape of a gesture here, a raised eyebrow there – and the occasional gurn, these being guitar players, after all! Could’ve sworn there was some telepathy going on as well, such was the interplay. Pure class, indeed.

The ringmaster, or perhaps lion-tamer, is undoubtedly Nigel, leading with the lightest of touches – a gentle hand on the tiller, as opposed to a strict martinet. All that’s needed, really, with a cast as skilled as this.

To summarise, a journey through a rich musical landscape, carried along by a troupe that is much more than the sum of its parts, and an experience warmly recommended to all. Ziggy might have done it before them, but they demonstrate that there’s still much more to see when it comes to playing guitar.

All too soon, it was over, and we emerged blinking into a beautiful Hawkes Bay evening, having witnessed something very special, and looking forward to the next attraction in this rich lineup – and we’re only halfway!

Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion
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Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion
Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion
Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion
Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion
Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion
Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion
Gitbox Rebellion Gitbox Rebellion
Were you there at The Blyth Performing Arts Centre for this beautiful performance? Or have you seen the Gitbox Rebellion Guitar Ensemble perform live somewhere else before? Are you planning on checking out other shows at this years edition of the Harcourts Hawkes Bay Arts Festival? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Note: The Harcourts Hawkes Bay Arts Festival provided passes to Ambient Light to review and photograph this concert. As always, this has not influenced the review in any way and the opinions expressed are those of Ambient Light’s only.

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Full review

Waggle Dance

Elsewhere 25th Oct 2017 by Graham Reid
Nigel Gavin: Waggle Dance (Thrum)

Any album with “music for the 7-string guitar” on the cover invites a Spinal Tapcomment: “It's one more”. But Gavin's music has been so consistently impressive – and impressively diverse -- that you relegate frivolity immediately. You simply immerse yourself in his very considerable playing and compositional gifts which here allude to Indian microtones, Spanish styles, gentle ballads, deconstructed/reconstructed folk-cum-art music and many more hyphenated genres besides.

And sometimes they can all co-exist and morph with in the same piece, as on the eight minute opener Goldilocks which, after a delightfully understated melody about 90 seconds in turns on its heel into thick and savage chords before coiling back again. It is a cleverly circular piece which takes you a journey of unexpected twists, and sets you up for the enjoyable challenges to follow.

Elsewhere Gita is a chiming and thoughtful exploration of the interface between East and West; the title track is as witty and wiggly as its name suggests; A Benevolent Presence is wonderfully respectful ballad; Rose Hips nudges towards the funky . . .

Through his understated virtuosity, wide and deep musicality, and wit with wisdom, Nigel Gavin remains one of the most gifted guitarists in this country. So much so, it is a surprise he continues to live here when he is so much in demand elsewhere. And at Elsewhere.
Full review


NZ Musician 3rd Mar 2012 by By Michael Flynn
Remastered and looking extremely tasteful in a sumptuous digi pack, this remarkable New Zealand album has been re-released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of what is undoubtedly the country’s finest art-music label, Rattle Records. Gitbox Rebellion came about primarily through Nigel Gavin and a workshop piloted by this masterful guitarist. This is an acoustic guitar-driven album, the likes of which you have never heard before, unless you already owned an original worn down copy or perhaps their follow up release, ‘Touch Wood’. The nine-strong ensemble comprising Gavin at the helm, also includes Kim Halliday, (these days a member of the successful Pacific Curls), Tim Gummer (a Rattle Records founder) and Jonathon Pease. This buoyant and spirited album draws influences from Latin to classical, rock to minimalism and avant-garde. The playing throughout is stunning. The tightly structured pieces all performed on steel string acoustic guitars is breathtakingly beautiful. With close links to Robert Fripp and the League of Crafty Guitarists, the guitar craft influences are clearly to be heard and enjoyed. Directed and arranged by Gavin it was superbly produced by Gummer. If you missed it 20 years ago then it’s time to get a copy.

Whirimako Black and Nigel Gavin, Chanel Arts Centre

nelson daily mail 9th Nov 2010 by Alistair Paulin.
For the Motueka Music Group, last night's performance was a "let your hair down concert", as the MC put it.

The group usually hosts chamber music but its foray into jazz and blues proved wildly popular.

Guitarist Nigel Gavin began the night with a solo performance of a new piece, The Tributaries. With both hands working the fretboard, Gavin coaxed intricate filigrees of fingerpicking from his warm-toned six-string, and the crowd was quickly captivated.

He was then joined by the soul diva herself, whose first song was Taku Rakau E, from her debut album Hinepukohurangi: Shrouded in the Mist. It was a traditional song from her Tuhoe childhood, she said, "when we had no choice but to listen to our elders".

Black's smoky lower register brought depth and sorrow to the song about an elder's feelings of loneliness when all her friends have passed on.

She alternated between singing in te reo and English throughout the evening, although when she first switched to English, she confessed that she found it "daunting, because I don't have my beautiful Maori language to hide behind".

In addition to jazz standards like Summertime and Cry Me A River, Black reached into more contemporary songbooks, singing Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now as well as songs from Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

Gavin's solos were restrained but playful, and as well as being a musically inspired pairing, the duo had an easy partnership on stage.

The warmth and appreciation that flowed between them and the audience grew over the course of the two hours-plus performance until stamping feet called back the pair for an encore.

175 East @ the Hearald theatre

NZ Herald 12th Apr 2010 by Willaim Dart
............ Special tribute is due to guitarist Nigel Gavin, who launched the evening with a line of effortless improv in which liquid notes floated around the Herald Theatre and both hands duetted on the fretboard - all this as well as a sly passing reference to The Shadow of Your Smile.

Richard Adams & Nigel Gavin @ the trusslers

the northern news NZ 12th Apr 2010 by Mike Nettman
Richard Adams and Nigel Gavin, two of New Zealands finest musicians joined forces at The Trusslers for a unique and exciting performance.
Richard's seemingly effortless vio;in technique sang glorious melodies with energetic improvisation complementing the beautiful, honest, brilliant style of Nigel's guitar.
Their choice of music-perfect, including original compositions and a selection of well known jazz standards, Limehouse blues being top of the list.
They made music that was heard and felt, their passion shining throughout the show- and an added treat when Harmen Heilkema joined in on his custom made skiffle bass.

Recent Works

Metro Magazine 5th Jul 2009 by Gary Steel
Roger Marbeck's Ode label finally hits its stride with this album, clearly modelled (from the exquisite cover artwork to the crystalline recording quality to the artistry of the music) on German label ECM. Richard Adams contributes the fine abstract paintings, along with violin skills he previously lent to the Nairobi Trio, while Nigel Gavin plays the same seven-string acoustic guitar that resonated through the quiet storm of last year's superb Visitation. In some unmarked plot to the left of "jazz", the 11 tracks on Recent Works have a disarming playfulness, and the duo's improvisations are almost telepathic. Utterly gorgeous and courageously contemplative, it's an instrumental album that radiates more winter warmth than a potbelly stove.

Recent Works

NZ Herald 11th Jul 2009 by Scott Kara
Recent Works by violinist Richard Adams and guitarist Nigel Gavin, who are long-time bandmates in the popular jazz group Nairobi trio, makes for some strange and tranquil listening. For those not familiar with the pair's work, the 11 tracks might come across more classical than jazz, but the meeting of Adams' violin and Gavin's guitar also has hints of gypsy folk, and will also appeal to those into bands with a more orchestral expansive mindset, like Grizzly bear and animal collective.
Take the 10-minuet long Daisy Chain, where Gavin, who has played overseas with avant garde guitarist Robert Fripp of King Crimson, comes up with some of his more harrowing guitar work as he provides a deep and dark undertow to Adams' dramatic and poised bowing. And on next track Bluff Wisdom, its Adams' violin to the fore sounding like a circling-for-food seagull at one point, and then suddenly transforming into a soaring and diving albatross.
Recent Works comes beautifully packaged in shiny cardboard, with an original Adams' painting adorning the cover. But more importantly it is a mesmerising album created by two great players.

Recent Works

the Dominion Post 29th Jun 2009 by Collin Morris
As two members of the Nairobi Trio, Adams and Gavin will need very little introduction to New Zealand audiences. Gavin on guitars and Adams on violin continue to explore a palette of colours from the swing of Stephane Grappelli, especially Pointing To The Exit (even a nod to Lennon and McCartney's Eleanor Rigby can be heard in the opening stanza) and Deal With It, to the gypsy sound of Caravan. Other tracks have an Andalusian feel (Roundhead-which is actually the name of the Auckland studio where this was recorded); the sound of seagulls, made with a scratched fret board is heard in Bluff Wisdom.
If all this sounds a little schizophrenic it's not, Gavin and Adams have a knack of exploring sounds with wit and grace and a real ear for melodic themes which makes for an easy on the ear yet memorable disc. And with the pianist Jonathan Bresser contributing to three tracks there is a real sense of fulfillment, remarkable because this was just first or second takes at the music.
Check out the cover artwork by Adams, yes that's another string (if you'll pardon the pun) to his bow.

Recent works

the sunday star times 25th May 2009 by Mike Alexander
There is an ECM-ish feel about this collaboration between two of New Zealand's most original thinkers. The improvisation is of the highest order and , while there are occasions if you wonder whether they are just playing for themselves, the chemistry is engaging enough, particularly on the toe tapping "Sacred Hill" and the impressionistic "Daisy Chain". With crystal clear sound, it's seriously good listening.

Recent Works

National radio 25th May 2009
"Incredibly, wonderfully intellegent"!
Manu Taylor

"First class musical alchemy!"
Trevor Reekie

A job With The Circus

Tone Magazine 17th Dec 2008 by Gary Steel
The filming of music performances has become altogether too preposterously acrobatic. This DVD goes right back to basics with a simplicity that brings out the best of the performance.

Wellington film-maker Costa Botes directs this 90-minute film of a solo concert by Nigel Gavin, and the simplicity of the filming allows the viewer to focus on Gavins instrumental prowess, and sucks the viewer into the musicians imaginative musicality.

I could bang on and on about Nigel Gavins brilliance (and have done, on numerous occasions) but theres no more apt quote than Listener columnist Nick Bollingers, which is reproduced on the packaging of this DVD: His hands seem to be wired directly to an imagination which never goes blank. Gavins guitar is ringing with ideas and to simply sit back and soak them up is unalloyed pleasure.

Gavin plays 7 and 11-string acoustic guitars and a Glissentar (which is based on the oud), and his compositions/improvisations are frequently lyrical, melodic, adventurous, steeped in history, and full of a rare humanitarian streak.

Hes an American transplanted in NZ who has performed with King Crimson legend Robert Fripp as well as countless local musicians and band. But on his lonesome, hes at his very best. Fantastic.

SOUND: 3.5



a job With The Circus

Elsewhere 17th Nov 2008 by Graham Reid
When I wrote the liner notes for Nigel Gavin's excellent Visitation album from late 06 I described him as "a musician without portfolio, a guitarist/composer whose work comfortably commands many different styles".

Confirming that assessment were the list of people/bands he had worked with to that point: the Nairobi Trio, the Jews Brothers, the guitar orchestra Gitbox Rebellion he founded, Robert Fripp, Lorina Harding, Whirimako Black . .

But I also said that Gavin was under-represented by a sound solo album - and that's what Visitation was.

Now comes this up-close and in-concert DVD beautifully shot by Wellington film-maker Costa Botes whose previous work has included Struggle No More (the superb doco of New Zealand's least ambitious band, the Windy City Strugglers), and a profile in music of bluesman Dave Murphy which appeared at Elsewhere previously.

Botes also captured the spirited Hobnail Boots and the Shot Band live at Paramount in Wellington.

Botes knows how to shoot musicians, he gets out of their way and takes the viewer in close. Watching his films you rarely sense the presence of the film-maker, but you certainly get a feel for the artist and the music.

This live showng by Gavin before a small and attentive audience is about as intimate as it can get without you actually being there. And oddly enough sometimes you forget that Gavin is also there, his music seems to have come from the air and gone directly to the fingers on the neck of the guitar.

Beautifully shot and scrupulously recorded, what you get is astonishing acoustic music from a man who draws from many musical genres and sources to create something his own.

amplifier Review

Blog 6th Feb 2009 by KSG
This is the kind of CD I generally have in my small pile on the coffee table, to incite interest from visitors (as in the album name, "Visitation" perhaps?), and to demonstrate my advanced and non-existent knowledge, but certainly appreciation, of beautiful music of all kinds and tastes.

That IS Nigel Gavin's brilliance and one certainly can't define his talent as being anything but amazing. I also need to admit that I was completely unaware that 7 and 11 string guitars existed and/or could be played!

And all that said, Nigel Gavin's talent is clearly evident on all of these compositions and his skill and technique on the strings of any guitar cannot be denied. Beautiful and hypnotic, and often mouth-gaping, the way Nigel coaxes the sounds from his guitars is at times miraculous and the superlatives can't be stopped!

This is the Gitbox Rebellion man he can play any kind of genre and make it hummmm with the skill of a master. These are not songs or sounds you will hear daily anywhere, but they are a reminder that music exists in all facets, planes, existences, and places this beautifully produced and played CD deserves ownership AND listening. A journey through the strands/strings of time and life. Nigel Gavin is one of the best there isanywhere.


Visitation review

Otago Daily Times 15th Sep 2007 by Richard Dingwall
Nigel Gavin's Visitation a delightful anthology of solo guitar playing, lovely to listen to but impossible to categorise. Gavin is know in New Zealand for his work with the Jews Brothers Band and the Nairobi Trio, and for founding the guitarist collective Gitbox Rebellion. Internationally he worked with Robert Fripp in his League of Crafty Guitarists. Visitation is his first solo album.
Nigel Gavin's music is melodic, dazzling in its virtuosity and inflected with every sort of musical treasure. A single tune seems to stray through folk balladry to flamenco and then medieval courtliness. The title track begins on a single-string melody which takes on Arabic colours. Elsewhere there are jazz inflections, or you can hear the echo of Ry Cooder's soundtrack music, with which this album shares a mood on quiet intimacy.

Metro visitation review

Metro Magazine 1st May 2007 by Gary Steel
Performed entirely on 7-string guitar and 11-string fretless glissentar, Visitation demonstrates the talents of Nigel Gavin, a virtuoso whose one-take improvisations become more extraordinary with each repeat listening. At times, Gavins intricate string-plucking sounds like the work of at least three players, but its never showy just for the sake of the wow-factor. This music has heart and humour, and perhaps his singular achievement here is making an album that is accessible and approachable and warm, yet always gently nudging away at the form, experimenting with new ideas and getting his point across in innovative ways. Having roamed the traps in a variety of ensembles over the years (Gitbox Rebellion and the Jews Brothers come to mind), its gratifying to hear this brilliant musician going it alone, and having the courage to make it so damned good.

listener Visitation review

the Listener 28th Apr 2007 by Nick Bollinger
Auckland-based guitarist Nigel Gavin leaves himself nowhere to hide on his latest album. With just his acoustic instrument, in seven- and 11-string variants, he is accountable for every naked note. And he acquits himself admirably.
Put Visitation on and it will instantly tint the atmosphere, and yet it never feels like aural wallpaper or new-age noodling.
the strength of the set is partly in its programming. Always conscious of the listener's comfort, Gavin alternates his more demanding abstract pieces with succinct ear-melting tunes.
And among the 13 originals there is plenty of variety, tunes like the title track that revolve around oriental scales, to others that might be descended from "Greensleeves".
But most of all it is Gavin's sure-fingered touch that makes the album such a satisfying listen. His hands seem to be wired directly to an imagination that never goes blank.
VISITATION, Nigel Gavin (Thrum).

Visitation review

Real Groove 18th Oct 2007 by Marty Duda
No doubt about, Nigel Gavin is a virtuoso, his stint with Robert Fripps League of Crafty Guitarists attests to that fact. the american born musician has lived in Auckland for the past 15 years playing with everyone from the Jews Brothers to the Nairobi Trio to Lorina Harding while releasing his own solo recording from time to time. He follows his 2004 album, Thrum, with another collection of solo meditations on 7-string and 11- string acoustic guitar. Just as he did on his previous release, Gavin fills his improvised instrumentals with cascading glissandos and delicate melodies. His style defies categorisation although the best description would be somewhere between jazz and new age. Although this is instrumental acoustic guitar music its not not made to be played in the background. Gavins music demands to be listened to...intently. This makes it especially rewarding if you've got the time and the inclination, or frustrating if you just want to have something cruisy on while entertaining friends. Gavin is at his best on tracks where he adds enough melody to give the listener something to relate to, other times he seems caught up in his own playing, perhaps a bit self-indulgent and meandering. But even then, his playing is impressive.

TONE Visitation review

Tone Magazine 1st May 2007 by Gary Steel
music: ****
sound: ****

Solo guitar albums aren't exactly at the top of most consumer want lists. In fact, the feeling invoked is one of a small eternity of utter boredom with no respite from the endless plank spanking.
Visitation is an album that might just make converts of those who haven't experienced the audible delights of a well-recorded and incredibly well-played acoustic guitar. Nigel Gavin spent most of his early years in America, but has been plying his guitar art around NZ for a few decades now, collaboration with many local artists and groups. Some may remember him from the brilliant multi-guitar group Gitbox rebellion. To give an idea of the esteem Gavin is held in muso circles, he was once in a group led by King Crimson maestro Robert Fripp, himself no slouch in the guitar department. On visitation Gavin makes incredibly complex improvisations (all one-take performances) sound easy on his 11-string Glissentar. What separates Gavin from other virtuoso guitarists is his gently persuasive way with experimentation; while he navigates some pretty unusual spaces in this music, somehow he keeps it rooted to notions of melody and structure that charm and seduce. There's genuine humanity, wit and even humour in Gavin's creations, and the cross-currants in his compositions (sometimes you'd swear three guitars were playing simultaneously) make for brilliant late-night, low-light listening.
Highly recommended.

wellington bluegrass society concert

blog 25th Jul 2007
Sunday, 22 July 2007
REVIEW: Nigel Gavin
by Bill in NZ

Petone as location and the Wellington Bluegrass Society may not be the first things that come to your mind for music listening - but Saturday night that was the combination for the place to be to hear an astonishing NZ musical treasure in action.

And action it was. A guy with a guitar - some singing on a couple of songs, some patter and some stories, harmonica backing (by Lester Mundell) on two blues numbers. But for pure entertainment it was the fingers of Nigel Gavin doing the singing - the art of solo guitar music at its finest.

For most numbers the 7-string guitar was used, but also an 11 string fretless glissentar was in action on one song. Intricate and unbelievable finger picking and playing - great music for listening if you dared to keep eyes closed and ears open just to listen. But hard to not watch and just marvel at the fingers in action - and to wonder how he does it.

The music ranged in styles and origin, some blues, some jazz, most improvised on the night, some abstract, a few based on traditional melodies. Varied and imaginative - with the word virtuoso an understatement.

The concert was captured by Costa Botes on video (five cameras plus sound recording) - Costa produced last year's well-received "Struggle No More" music documentary on the Windy City Strugglers. For those of you unable to see Nigel in action - the concert video may be available later.

It's well worth a visit to Nigel's website to get a flavour of his talent and range of musical projects and inventiveness.

But the place to really visit is the next Nigel Gavin live concert - whether Nigel solo, or performing with others. Nigel is off to the USA in the near future, but will be back in New Zealand for touring later in the year - let's hope that includes Wellington.

Visitation/Radio New Zealand review

by Nick Bollinger
Radio New Zealand's "the sampler"
Visitation by Nigel Gavin.
Review quotes from Nick Bollinger.

"Of its kind its one of the best you'll hear, anywhere in the world!"

"Nigel Gavin's new album Visitation, it's a beautiful thing".

"... courageous ... sonically naked."

"..(Nigel Gavin's).. finger's must be wired directly to his brain!"

"Visitation is a seriously classy record".

"Gavin's guitar is ringing with ideas and to simply sit back and soak them up is unadorned pleasure!"

Visitation (Thrum Records/Rhythmethod)

the Waikato Times 24th Mar 2007 by Steve Scott
I originally heard Nigel Gavin when he was guitarist for New Zealand singer-songwriter Wayne Gillespie on his 1986 New Locations tour. Gavin later turned up in the Nairobi Trio, regular visitors to Hamilton's Riverlea Theatre, and was tutored by intellectual guitar wizard Robert Fripp (King Crimson) when he hosted a workshop in NZ. Gavin also contributed his own compositions to Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists as well as NZ's Gitbox Rebellion guitar band. To say Gavin is a guitar virtuoso is an understatement: he's a gifted, imaginative and highly exploratory musician who uses charm and taste as the backdrop to his amazing guitar pieces. And on Visitation there are many. On the opening Quiddity he incorporates lilting grace notes with flamenco picking and nifty strums. Gavin's orchestra for a solo guitarist has begun. The Land Beyond Goodbye recalls German bassist Eberhard Webber as Gavin plays and bends his bass strings with a studied approach while ascending and descending the fretboard. And while the title track is as illuminating as a movie soundtrack, Berceuse creates the mood like that of a master painter choosing the appropriate pastel to perfect the piece. From his nifty finger-style on Repulse Monkey to the dramatic Reliquary and charming Noteworthy Praise, Gavin creates the perfect bridge between performer and listener where his wonderful flow creates the most brilliant feelings across styles and sounds.
4 and 1/2 stars

Visitation/North and South review

North and South 3rd Apr 2007 by Simon Sweetman
Nigel Gavin's musical pedigree has been showcased across several forums, from the klezmer-jazz cabaret of The Jews Brothers toe the vineyard swing of The Nairobi Trio. And there have been experimental deviations, such as the Robert Fripp inspired guitar orchestra Gitbox Rebellion. The Auckland based guitarist has recorded previous solo albums, but Visitation (subtitled "music for 7 and 11 string guitars") is simultaneously his most accessible and experimental release. The nocturnal feel of this instrumental collection takes in Elizabethan classical textures, Michael Hedges-styled new-age ideas and Roy Harper's baroque folk. Consummately performed, it straddles classical, jazz and folk styles and should be enjoyed at the end of a long day.


www.elswhere.co.nz 10th Jan 2007 by Graeme Reid
Nigel Gavin: Visitation (Thrum/Rhythmethod)

Guitarist Gavin is probably well known to more people than they realise: he has played with the Nairobi Trio, the Jews Brothers, created the guitar orchestra Gitbox Rebellion, and has been on albums by Wayne Gillespie, Ross Mullins and Whirimako Black.
But it has always been his own albums -- limited edition and so under the radar for most people -- which have seen him at his most exploratory and interesting.
Some months ago I was invited to write the liner notes for this album. I often receive such offers but rarely take them up, they have to be pretty special for me to want to lend my name to them.
This one was a given though. I loved it, had it in the car for two weeks as we drove around the South Island, and have played my advance copy ever since.
Gavin plays seven and eleven string guitars and pulls from them an astonishingly diverse array of melodies from what sound like Elizabethan lute music to world music influences and delicate miniatures.
(You can read my notes at the Marbeck's site if you click on Buy This Album -- which doesn't mean you've automatically bought it!)
This album isn't being launched until next year but Marbecks has some advance copies. It's a long overdue album from Nigel, and I was happy to lend my name to it then -- and now.

Visitation/NZ musician

NZ musician by Tim Page
After 30 years of acoustic guitar playing, I'm a sucker for the sound, and even more so anything that's slightly different. Nigel Gavin has been something of a guitar journeyman, associated with numerous different performers and genres, including the outstanding guitar orchestra Gitbox Rebellion, and such singer-songwriters as Ross Mullins and Wayne Gillespie. Adding to his anthology, he has presented us with a tasty instrumental album of solo acoustic guitar, beautifully played and sensitively recorded with a skill that captures the atmosphere of the performances. I couldn't help drawing comparisons with the innovative style of the likes of Phil Keaggy and Michael Hedges. Self-released, recording was undertaken at "Thrum Kitchens" in Auckland and Wellington's Braeburn Studios, where it was also mastered by Robbie Duncan. Worthy of note are the instruments Gavin uses; an 11 string Godin Glissentar, and a 7-string guitar made by Northland luthier Laurie Williams. Some of the tracks have a somewhat experimental feel, creating textures diversely reminiscent flamenco, or Japanese Koto, with much more inbetween. I could imagine much of this material being utilised to evoke atmospheric ambience so prized by film makers.

guitarist australia review

guitarist australia 1st Aug 2005 by Gun Arvidssen
Guitarist Australia review of:

Picturesque musical storytelling from Kiwi acoustic strangler

It's difficult not to think of Nigel Gavin as something of a minstrel for the new millennium. There is something at once medieval and contemporary in the seven-string acoustic he wields; likewise, the music he wrings from it has elements of the most diverse genres while being impossible to collect under any rubric, except perhaps that of narrative.
This reviewer has always been a strict believer in the concept that a song should stand alone with, at most, its title and possibly lyrics to guide the listener towards its meaning. If a composition needs an explanatory addendum, it has failed in some measure. Thrum is a sterling verification of this rule-even without the liner notes, the music weaves a multi-sensory spell that superbly evokes the subject matter, right down to the texture of the ground beneath the protagonist's feet. The sinister Nebuchadnezzar, teeming with megalomaniac paranoia, or A Connecticut Yankee In The Court Of King Arthur, featuring an intro of a knight in rusty armour, are perfect examples of this. Nevertheless, it must be said that the additional information on the songs does make for interesting reading, and adds an additional highlight through the music that is welcome, if not crucial.
Aside from the unbelievable flailing (Gavin has no qualm with applying 'electric' techniques such as tapping or sweep to his music), one of the big eyebrow-raisers about this album is that all the songs are one-takers. Nonchalant in production but not in results, Gavin's songs-some recorded in his kitchen, some in a New Zealand studio-transport the listener to a space as rooted in fantasy as it is in the familiar.
Standout tracks:
the Mosquito, Yezidi Circle, waiting for Seniah

tauranga jazz festival

Nigel Gavin is one of New Zealands musical treasures. The eccentric range of his musical projects is matched only be his astonishing virtuosity with stringed instruments and his prodigious musical imagination. Guitarists will be simply astonished by the technique on display here. Nigels finger-picking is so fast, so smooth, and so laden with sudden virtuoso explosions that it is damn near impossible to work out either what hes doing, or how hes doing it.
- Tauranga Weekend Sun

Wayne Gillespie & Nigel Gavin: Live at the Bunker

NZ Musician 30th Nov 2006 by By Tim Page
Now this is a treat for the folk music devotee. Released last year, it was recorded live at The Bunker in Aucklands Devonport in 2003, with engineering by Steve Garden. The nuances of a live folk performance are faithfully captured while managing a clarity of
recording that makes for a comfortable listen. Gillespie and Gavin both boast a fairly comprehensive CV in the New Zealand folk scene, and although Gillespie now resides in Sydney, he makes frequent trips home to perform. Other contributors to this effort are Caitlin Smith on vocals and Tony Waine on bass. The track listing is a selection of songs sampled from many years of writing and playing, and range from some rather intense minor-keyed efforts such as Gabriel Street, to the satirical So Trendy. This is true folk quality music, not a sniff of synthesis, expertly played, and with obvious audience rapport. A fine listen

New Zealand Musician

NZ musicain
"This music is truly unique,blending elements of classical/Spanish and folk to produce something quite splendid". "The overall impression is one of quality - Gavin is a true craftsman and has created an excellent body of work. If you own an acoustic guitar then you should have this album".
New Zealand Musician

north and south

28th Feb 2006
".....there's no doubting either the album's sincere intensity or its stylish grace".
North & South

Metro magazine

28th Feb 2006 by Gary Steel
"Its a quiet blinder, and proof that the guitarist is one of our best-kept secrets.
....a wonderfully uncompromised exposition of one man's musical ability and imagination."

the Dominion Post

28th Feb 2006 by John Kennedy
" Nigel Gavin's latest CD brings you right into a guitarist's universe: ....a set of richly melodic performances. (He) shows how the technical challenges of solo guitar have been navigated without losing sight of expressive essentials."
The Dominion Post

the NZ Herald

28th Feb 2006 by Graeme Reid

"... dextrous playing...frisky flight...amusingly funky...mesopotamian folk...elegant...but equally romantiic...... unified by Gavin's restraint and sure reading of his melodic compass."
The New Zealand Herald

radio NZ's 9 to noon show

28th Feb 2006 by Manu Taylor and Linda Clark

"...he has the technique and musicality that reminds one of the Koln concert album (Keith Jarrett). We like Nigel Gavin!"
Radio New Zealand's
9 to Noon Show.

auckland city mix

28th Feb 2006
Nigel Gavin is one hell of a guitar player...Recorded "live" in the studio, this is an album of gentle beauty and thrilling musicianship."
City Mix

Intergalactic Boogie Express

7th Apr 2001 by various
the good craft of the acoustic axe, April 7, 2001
James H. Timber-Giboyeaux (Puerto Rico) -
I rate this recording with 4.5 stars. This is one of the few records I own that endures uninterrupted playing for four years in a row and still goes on strong. I believe this is the culmination from the two previous Guitar Craft recordings: Live and Show of Hands. This performance arm of Guitar Craft display an uncanny sense of musicianship rarely withness on recording or stage with daring compositions, specially from Nigel Gavin, and distinguished playing by all musicians. The attack on the guitars is sharp and transparent. Notes and melodies never drift out of focus nor they lie into drolling tunes (well almost!!..). Another Guitar Craft recording is well in need. It has been ten years now with out any new stuff and fans like myself are hurting.

The best acoustic guitar album I've heard yet, August 10, 1998
Reviewer: A music fan
This is a live recording of 10 highly accomplished guitarists - all advanced participants in Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft seminars. The playing here is highly precise, with an emphasis on tight, complex teamwork, to wonderful musical effect. Especially gratifying is Nigel Gavin's (now of Gitbox Rebellion) composition on the opening track, which leads off with what sounds to me like a bit of a microtonal tribute to Harry Partch. I'm also very fond of the hidden 'non performance', and the additional 'hidden' track.

If you're sick to death of the tired guitar repertoire they play on classical radio stations, this is a tremendous genre-free antidote

Music for Flem II

NZ Herald by Graham Reid
Nigel Gavins wittily titled, long-overdue under his own name
Music for Flem: Volume 11, the first of three, makes overt references to Enos Music For Films albums and follows much the same ethic: soundtracks for imagined and imaginary movies. Over 16 tracks using mandolin, loops, guitars, banjos, a flower pot and other instruments, Gavin conjures up images of dark alleys behind a funky poolhall (the Waitsean Bugnuts and Beefcake), moonrise over a forest (Aspiration), what he appropriately calls a spaghetti eastern (dodi Li), a hypnotic rippling of repeated guitar figures (Bass Grain), some 80s casino-lounge swing (Sving-ing-ing!), a cheerful morning on a warm pacific beach (Glad Tidings) and much more. Whatever you imagine, in fact. Lots of information here.

Decadence Live

North and South magazine 10th Mar 2010 by Simon Sweetman

American born, kiwi based composer Jonathan Besser has been working with the group Bravura for the past decade of his career. The six- piece ensemble takes from Jazz, classical and world music- mixing late night soundtrack scrapings with feisty Arabic and Turkish riffs. The music always contains grace. And it is always capable of leaping up and out at the audience at any moment. Here, cherry-picking from the groups five studio Albums, we have a 17 track live performance that sees Bessers gentle piano pieces make room for Nigel Gavin exquisite seven string guitar gymnastics. Miranda Adams electric violin and Tatiana Lanchtchikovas accordion provide both beauty and muscle for the Melodies. And Peter Scott ( bass) and Yair Katz ( drums, percussion) guide and probe