New Zealand's The Beths delivered their debut album Future Me Hates Me this summer, to great adoration from us. It's an album packed with dynamic pop-rock blasters, so you might be surprised to learn that the quartet all studied jazz for 4 years at the University of Auckland, before embarking on their rock'n'roll adventure. While they may have broken out of their musical teachings in order to pursue their current path, they still hold a flame in their hearts for jazz - it is what brought them all together, after all. We've asked them to pick some of their favourite jazz cuts for a special edition of our 5 Easy Pieces feature. Check out their choices below and in this Spotify playlist.

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Liz: Clifford Brown and Max Roach - 'Joy Spring'

Clifford Brown was one of my favourite trumpet players while studying, and I transcribed his solos a lot. His playing is so warm and precise, and I liken to someone who can speak eloquently and make you listen without shouting. Trumpet can be such a muscly instrument, it kind of wants to be pushed high and loud and brash (which I love to do also, it's real fun), but I think Clifford's style is really special. He wrote this tune and I love the way he repeats and re-shapes his melodies through the changes.


Liz: Sinatra at the Sands (with the Count Basie Orchestra) - 'I've Got You Under My Skin'

Cole Porter is one of my favourite song writers. The bridge of this song: "I'd sacrifice anything, come what might, for the sake of having you near in spite of a warning voice that comes in the night and repeats, repeats in my ear: 'don't you know you fool, you never can win. Just use your mentality, wake up to reality.'" I've written this song, 'Future Me Hates Me', but sometimes I just want to flush it into oblivion because I listen to 'Under My Skin' and the same feeling is summed up so much better than I ever could lyrically and melodically. Pairing this song with Sinatra's phrasing, Quincy Jones' arranging, and The Count Basie Orchestra in its prime is something that makes me tear up.


Ben: Frank Sinatra with Count Basie - 'I Only Have Eyes For You'

Listening to this recording was the first time I realised what it sounded like when a band phrased together. They play with a collective sense of empathy and are able to execute with an incredible amount of style and nuance. Sinatra's delivery on this song taught me so much about how to phrase music, both when delivering a melody and improvising. He always sounds playful in the way he pulls the melody around and he has a wonderful sense of swing and rhythm.


Ben: Lester Young & Teddy Wilson Quartet - 'Pres Returns'

This was the recording which made me fall in love with Pres' playing. It's a perfect example of how to tell a story through a solo. He doesn't need to play loud or fast or high, and his simple melodies and development effortlessly builds the energy chorus after chorus. Each member of the band has a character of his own; Teddy Wilson with his eloquent dancy stride feel, Gene Ramey with his bouncy quarter note bass lines and Jo Jones with beautiful dynamic accompaniments and loud shouting responses.


Jon: Charles Mingus - 'Pithecanthropus Erectus'

Mingus takes a traditional form, New Orleans blues and early jazz, and messes with it by emphasising a new kind of 'free' collective improvisation. I like that, how jazz musicians are always deconstructing and rearranging their art form, and especially because doing so is such a performative act - the formalised, codified part of 'Pithecanthropus Erectus' is only just enough information to recognise the composition by. And these musicians learned this song by ear - at this time Mingus never wrote anything out. So to put flesh on that skeleton is to celebrate and interact with each other's individual musical experiences and vision. The band is on the same buzz though - Mingus says the composition paints the picture of humankind's rise and fall, and for that lofty concept to be even partly communicated through just musical notes and a nerdy song title is a pretty big achievement.


These 5 tracks are collected in this Spotify playlist:

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The Beths' debut album Future Me Hates Me is out now on Carpark Records. They'll be touring the UK in November:

5th November - Bristol, UK @ The Crofters Rights
6th November- Manchester, UK @ Mancunia Records and Studio
7th November - Glasgow, UK @ Broadcast
8th November - Leicester, UK @ Duffy’s Bar
9th November - Bournemouth, UK @ The Anvil
10th November - Brighton, UK @ East Street Tap
11th November - London, UK @ Sebright Arms
12th November - Brussels, BE @ Chaff