Yesterday morning (9th) New Zealand jazz lost one of the giants of piano, Murray McNabb after a long illness. As with Bruce Morely, Murray was too young for me to interview for my thesis, but I did have the good fortune to have known him slightly and to have enjoyed many of his gigs around Auckland, which were some of the most adventurous I’ve been too (very few standards in sight!). As well as his own groups Murray was a member of the seminal jazz fusion groups Dr. Tree, Space Case, Modern Times and Band R. Murray was also an acclaimed film and television composer notably for the film Once Were Warriors, and the local television series Greenstone.
His friend and close collaborator Frank Gibson Jr wrote in the New Zealand Herald obituary guest book that they became friends when he “went looking for the boy who wrote Monk on the wall at Mt Albert Grammar School. So many musical ventures over the years. Conspirators in the true sense of the word.”
Murray will be sadly missed by the jazz community here for his musical challenges and for his encouragement of young musicians.