The Retro Pack is a collaboration of professional Wellington and Kapiti-based performers who have been delivering sell-out shows at jazz festivals and theatres all over New Zealand since their first outing in 2002, when vocalist/playwright April Phillips conceived ‘Blue Eyes’; a tribute to Frank Sinatra. This show won the fringe festival ‘Best Music’ award, and subsequent Retro Pack productions such as ‘Unforgettable - the Story of Nat King Cole’ which featured at both Tauranga and Nelson Jazz Festivals in 2010, and ‘The Glory of Gershwin’ which featured in the Wellington Jazz Festival in 2016, continued the trend.
Their ‘Jazz on Broadway’ show sold out five nights in succession at Wellington’s Circa Theatre in 2019, and with the disruption of 2020 behind them, they are looking forward to a season of performances this year, beginning with a ’Best of the Retro Pack’ night at the Kapiti Playhouse on Saturday 20th March.
The evening will feature a repertoire of standards popularised by the greatest singers of the 20th Century - Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole among them. Songs include ‘Blue Skies’, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, ’Something Stupid’, ‘Mack The Knife’ and ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’.
Apart from celebrated singer, actress, playwright and movie-maker April Phillips, the Retro Pack features Kapiti entertainers Andrew London and James Cameron (ex-Hot Club Sandwich, The Cattlestops and the Velox Brothers), vocalist and saxophonist James Tait-Jamieson, and drummer Lance Philip.
‘We all feel these songs have been enormously influential, not only in our own musical histories, but in the development of popular music over the last century’ says Bass player/vocalist James Cameron. ‘But really they’re just wonderful tunes to play and we inevitably get quite carried away on the night - they’re great vehicles for improvisation and we seldom do them quite the same way twice’.