Accordion Music

Lizzie Cook Lizzie Cook and band Lizzie Cook Lizzie Cook and band

Live Band Reviews

Lizzie Cook at An Evening of Worken' Culture, Blackball '08

Regent 'Theatre, Greymouth, March 22
The hugely enjoyable Evening of Workers' Culture ran for close to four hours on Saturday night thanks to the insistence of the foot tapping, singing and encore demanding crowd.The West Coast actors, under Maunder’s professional guidance, turned in professional performances. The use of a lone accordion [Lizzie Cook] gave a sense of importance and sometimes urgency to the soliloquies, as did the simple but highly effective lighting system. The play moved along nicely, making its point but never dwelling. It was an intelligent performance for an informed crowd -- a reference to the 1950s waterfront strike earned a sharp rebuke from audience members, who shouted out: "it was a lockout, not a strike". The last act, the arrival of hippies, brought the play's themes together nicely and with humour. The actors, and playwright, were not afraid to laugh at part of the town's history. Maunder, for one night only, coaxed a professional performance out of his varied cast with a play that could hold its own in far bigger centers. If plays could have encores, the crowd would surely have demanded one.

Laura Mills, Grey Star, March 2008

Lizzie Cook and Talisman at the Vienna International Accordion Festival

After the already traditional gala at the Jugendstil theatre at the Baumgartnerhöhe ­ in which Otto Lechner took part again this year ­ Lizzie Cook and Talisman appeared at the accordion festival in the Szene Wien club. The accordion player from New Zealand performed all by herself on the stage of the Szene Wien - nevertheless she succeeded in filling it with her musical presence. She played pieces which seemed to be influenced by Eastern European musical tradition as well as songs which drew their inspiration from Latin America - and pieces which floated completely freely. "I play everything in the Lizzie Cook style", says Lizzie Cook. Bathed in lighting full of atmosphere, she presented a felicitous prelude to this beautiful concert evening in the Szene Wien.

Skug Journal for Music, March 2006

Lizzie Cook Band

Looks like the HarbourLight is consistently getting all the good entertainment in Christchurch/Lyttelton at the moment - this time I wanted to catch up with The Lizzie Cook Band live and to find out a bit more about her mp3 success.

Tom's woodburner was in action and the stage was decorated in a kind of Las Vegas reject scenario - very nice - a comedian had a good go before the band went on.

We were in for an excellent night's entertainment - the first half was a strong opening and by the time we got to the second set, the band was warmed up and the sound-system was pumping real well - the capacity crowd was very attentive and supportive -overall the night was a success.

Lizzie's current CD has been listed on mp3.com for a while now and has attracted a lot of attention - she has already been featured in the Artist Spotlight and rules the Zydeco genre, number one for over a month now - she is also one of the most downloaded musician in New Zealand - not bad at all - but where does it take her? Hard to say although she has already made sales over the internet and through mp.3 and not to forget the traffic through her web pages - currently around 4000 a month! She told me that she has been approached by various media that have done write-ups on the CD, all through finding her on mp3 - so it appears that virtual fame is descending upon society, how to be poor and famous - mind you it is only early days on the dragnet and the next 2-3 years is going to make a huge difference to the music scene - at last the musos have an independent outlet and distribution, much to the record companies frustration. The interesting thing about mp3 is that you don't need a CD to be on it, as a matter of fact they make it for you, sell it and go halves with you -now that's gonna be the best deal you can get around kiwiland with all the school-tie record company executives hogging the music-scene.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the night, great venue and I look forward to her new CD of which we heard several tracks, very tasty and good arrangements - full credit to the band for supporting Lizzie sonically. I gather she is playing again in a few months, well count me in. Brulg

Presto, September 1999

In glittery glory Lizzie and her three piece band of percussion, guitar and drums, entertained the packed audience at HarbourLight on Saturday 26th June.

With a wide range of original pieces a collective feeling of energetic enjoyment flowed over into the audience.

While Lizzie's enthusiastic accordion playing occasionally drowned out her voice what you did hear was fab.

Utilising her dramatic flair, Lizzie's flamboyant style created a charged performance where the unique and personal nature of her work shone through. Bouncy, get up and dance now rhythms complete with bongos beating contrasted dramatically with the smooth and lilting melodies of songs such as Sleep. The entertainment was continuous with Geoff the comedian who filled breaks between sets with his fast talking funnies.

An eclectic mix of music with hints of world, gypsy, sea shanties; a sultry song-stress and a jiving band, gave something for all.

Well performed and lots of fun.

Harbour Link, June 1999

Lizzie Cook

Selected CD Reviews

Shimmer

"My song pick is 'Shimmer' with its happy caribbean rhythm" - Rip It Up Issue 340 April/May 2011

About 'Summer goes on Forever': "a sweet whimsical pop song with a beautiful melody" – The Press, Christchurch, January 21, 2011

About me: "Cook has a lovely voice" – The Press, Christchurch, January 21, 2011.

Letter from my heart

Lizzie Cook's latest CD offering dishes up some rather excellent music. Backed by some of Christchurch's finest musicians she takes us on a musical journey which is a rare treat in the Antipodean entertainment industry. The CD starts off with marvelous up tempo dance music which settles in a beautiful languid songs and introspective lyrics. This time Lizzie also shows off her considerable keyboard skills on the grand piano boarding on pure jazz with an outstanding rhythm section behind her. There is some awesome bass/drums/percussion playing on this CD and Lizzie's voice has definitely matured well since her first CD "Forty Damn Years". She has the ability to take on several music styles with ease and her accordion weaves its way with effortless grace. The production quality is of international standard, recorded in ChCh at SweetJuice - it is heartening to know that we still have original talent in the Garden City who has not given up on today's crowded music market which is generally drained of any meaning of content - thumbs up!! This CD can take a hammering! And I'll look forward to the next one! Z Hubelmayer

Presto Magazine, March 2002

40 Damn Years

Despite those years Lizzie Cooks' voice is almost childlike, soft, angelic and sexy like chocolate. The strength of this album is built around Lizzie's fluent piano accordion music. She composed all the tracks here (with a little help from Cushla Foley) with no guitar tracks throughout. Her backing band is professional and mature but then what else would you expect from the phenomenal talents of Wally Tairakena (drums) and James Wilkinson (bass). I go through a mix of scenes in my head listening to this. From imagining myself sipping red wine by the Eiffel tower to dancing wildly with the 'Green man of the woods' naked and dreaming. Highland and Raining bring out the best in this girl, the former track a definite winner being a dynamic instrumental interwoven with strong vocal harmonies while Raining has a sweet lyrical catch. Hear the Angels in another cool track and is infectious and almost innocent. Other tracks like Sleep and Struggle to Love get thoughtful lyrics but aren't really my cup of tea. Anyway Lizzie Cook plays sweet and gutsy. David Gideon

New Zealand Musician Magazine, December 1999 / January 2000

Read all CD reviews.

Live Solo Review

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, at the Green Room

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes was a pleasantly unorthodox mixture of songs, singers and styles.

The theme was love but as this allows you to sing just about any song ever written it really becomes no theme at all.

Top of the bill was the extraordinary Lizzie Cook with her accordion. Her set was a real performance, with intelligently written and well crafted songs. Timothy Jones

The Press, February 1999

Press Profile

Letter from Lizzie's Heart

Christchurch singer/accordionist Lizzie Cook is today launching her second CD, Letter from my heart. For her, life is captured in a love for music, writes Christopher Moore.

Her voice defies precise definition. It can contain the smokiness of a Gauloise-filled Paris bistro, or the piercing clarity of the Pacific light. It is sound which simultaneously carries moods of bittersweet nostalgia, love lost, love found.

This is a voice of the theatre - from cool and detached to passionate; from weary to pulsating with life. Lizzie Cook, who is today launching her second CD, Letter from My Hear, can never be ignored. Her songs emerge as intimate, magical moments - fleeting realities drawn from life and translated into music. These are songs of the heart and reflections of woman's life.

If experience is the great teacher, it has also been Lizzie Cook's constant mentor and inspiration. "I explore the details of small things, our daily habits as well as the big picture. I see myself as an instrument or vehicle which expresses the power of being alive," she says.

From the childhood angst of piano lessons to the conflicting emotions of a 30-something Kiwi in Paris and a theatrical performance on a wind-buffeted West Coast beach - the life, times, and art of Lizzie Cook have been nothing if not an enduring live performance.

Today, aged 45, she talks about the sheer pleasure of working with a group of musicians who have become her close friends. Her life seems to be in complete harmony.

"I was humbled by the experience of working with these people. Why do they want to turn up for no pay, and practice songs I've written, for hours on end?

"What and how they play is totally influential. It's a wonderful team."

Lizzie Cook - the woman who can be inspired by Latin dancing, gourmet pizza, and trapeze - continues to plunge with headlong enthusiasm into the experience of live and living.

She was born in Whangarei, where music in the shape and sound of a child's weekly piano lessons became an ominous presence.

"I grew up playing rigorous classical piano - exam after exam. It was severe musical education which basically put me off music to the point where I simply gave up for five years.

"In my early 20s, I brought a piano but said that I would only play it it I played it by ear. "It still took me years to recover from having my own perfectionism magnified by the perfectionism of those music lessons.

"I had to discover music on my own terms - playing by ear, working with small children, finding their joy and sense of rhythm, discovering catchy melodies and lyrics of nursery rhymes."

She remembers becoming a musical Pied Piper during those music and movement sessions with [pre-school] children, opening the doors to an imaginary world for a very discerning audience.

In 1987, Lizzie Cook travelled to Paris to attend Jacques Lecoq's international theatre school. For a year, she studied for half a day, worked as an au pair on a houseboat moored at the Quai d'Orsay during the other half, sang at a Left Bank jazz bar, and absorbed the moods and the human geography of the great city.

"I was 30 going on 31, a mature student at a school where most of the students were in their mid-20s. This was a physical theatre school with an international student roll.

"Everything was taught in French but we performed in our own language. The emphasis was on storytelling through the body with song, mime and acting as an extension of that. Lecoq was a man who didn't believe in [white-faced, dumb mime] silence. That sense of movement and joy of life is very much part of me."

Back in New Zealand, she developed her own theatre projects involving music, masks, and movement. In 1993, she began performing her own music.

When she had heard and learnt in Paris was fused with her own memories and experiences. Singers like the great chanteuse Edith Piaf could distil an entire life into a single brief song. This innate sense of theatre and drama continues in Lizzie Cook's own performances. She could never write and perform her songs without exploring this deep-seated lode of memory.

In 1998, she became artist-in-residence at the Christchurch Art Centre "a wonderful but brief experience. People still thought that I was there a few years later. I came at a time when I was burnt out by theatre work but it transfused a new enthusiasm, a new interest."

Today she still lives and works in the South Island, drawn by the need to see a horizon bordered by high snow-capped mountains. "I migrated to Christchurch because of the mountains. That's why I live here. They are somehow in my personality.

"I haven't followed the industry to Auckland or Wellington because I don't want to live there. I have toyed with the idea of moving to Melbourne but again it comes down to this question of who I am". Appropriately for a singer whose first CD was entitled Forty Damn Years, she defies the fashionable cult of youth.

"Heaven, we're told, always appears to be elsewhere, but I suspect that it depends on your age. You reach a stage where you are less consumed by ambition - and I'm just getting there in terms of achieving a sense of personal repose.

"I tend to wave my age like a flag after being somewhat vague and lacking confidence in who I was and where I was going. As I have progressed, I have become more resolute about what I want to say. Age is integral to that development."

The Press, November 2001