To the world at large, Jaz Coleman is the fiery leader of UK post-punk rock group Killing Joke, but to New Zealand’s music community, he is something else altogether. Since choosing Aotearoa as his sanctuary in the early 90s, Coleman’s impact on our music scene has been far greater than he is typically credited for.
It was Jaz Coleman who created one of our best studios (with engineer Martin Williams and producer Malcolm Welsford); Coleman who produced the seminal early work of our best mainstream hard rock band, Shihad; and Coleman who nourished some of the most fertile threads of our Māori talent through his work with Emma Paki and Hinewehi Mohi. And it was Coleman who would write a symphony about his adopted homeland, and take it to the world.
Coleman’s great uncle was Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, “the architect” of modern India.
In 1996 Coleman was commissioned to make 15 minutes of music for a computer game, and the Auckland Philharmonia was hired for the job. Because the orchestra would do only do four-and-a-half hour sessions, he decided "to write a quick symphony", and recorded it on the back of the commission.
Strange enough? Here’s strange: “There’s a classical guitar part in the symphony, and it just so happened that the guitarist from Yes was here on holiday, so I grabbed Steve Howe and he played classical guitar on it and he was absolutely amazing.”