The last post
Billy has four guitars, says a cartoon on the late Peter Te Kani's Facebook page, the last of the musician's posts before he passed away on June 26.
“Suzy has one bass,” continues the gag. “What does Suzy have that Billy doesn't?
“A gig! Suzy has a gig!”
Known largely in the local music scene as a bass player, Te Kani was also known for his versatility and seems never to have been short of gigs, onstage or off.
“I've known Peter for about 20 years,” says Walter “Wiz” Walsh.
“He produced four of my albums. He did my backing vocals, he played keyboard, guitar and electronic drums for the backing music.
“He even performed for my surprise 40th birthday.”
The musician/music director/producer/backing vocalist also recorded albums for Raymond Solomon, Dennis Marsh, and many others, says Walsh.
Known for his professionalism, Te Kani had previously performed with showbands the Maori Volcanics, and the Howard Morrison Quartet. Walsh recalls him performing at the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) rally last year as vocalist with the Chris Reynolds Big Band.
“Peter was very professional. He was dressed suavely and performed songs like Mac the Knife, and New York, New York, like a pro.
“Then his music changed. He got more into the blues but he still loved old school. He was very versatile. Even when he was ill, and in lockdown, he was singing songs in his recording studio with the green screen with a picture of the Town Clock behind him.
“He was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.”
Te Kani had played bass for small bands Chris Reynolds also performed in, but asked for ideas for entertainment for the NZMCA rally, Te Kani and Reynolds came up with the idea of a big band.
“I've sensed a demand for big band music in Gisborne,” Reynolds told The Gisborne Herald last year.
“We have the players in town so this is the optimum time”.
One of those swing-sound players was Te Kani who looked and sounded the part.
“He brought that true showband sound to the stage and was the epitome of the big band frontman. His presentation, how he dressed — he was a top presence in look, presentation and sound.”
Peter Te Kani was a real gentleman, says Poverty Bay Blues Club captain Darryn Clyne.
“He was a versatile musician and performer and he helped a lot of musicians although he wasn't one to talk about himself.
“He came along to blues club nights pretty soon after we started. He performed easy-listening music because he was such a smooth crooner. Peter loved to croon. He wasn't always strictly blues but he was always well-received because of the quality of his sound.”
A Poverty Bay Blues Club night was where Gisborne musician John Warren first saw Te Kani on bass guitar. In 2011, he and Te Kani got together as the duo, Timelords, and performed with programmed backing tracks.
“I thought he was a real professional,” says Warren.
“He was very calm. Nothing ever flustered him. If we'd make a mistake, we'd just look at each other and laugh.”
After four years as a duo, Timelords was joined by drummer Gav Rafferty and with a playlist made of hits by Hendrix, Cream, Santana and The Police the band “took off”.
“Everyone at Smash Palace is saddened at the passing of our dear friend Peter Te Kani,” Smash Palace owner Darryl Monteith noted on the venue's Facebook page.
“Pete was a true gentleman and a superbly talented musician and producer. We will fondly remember his thumping bass style and powerful soulful voice as recorded here with Lazy 50, but also his warmth, humour and generous spirit.”
Lazy 50's lead singer/guitarist Adrian Athy was not available for comment but band manager and partner Kerry Taggart says Te Kani helped Athy grow as a musician.
“Peter was the consummate musician. He basically said to Adrian, ‘you have to get your shit together'. He wanted to get their music sharp.
“Peter was all about quality.”
Te Kani's mentorship has paid off for Athy, but that's an another story.
Walsh, who broadcast a tribute show to Te Kani on Turanga FM last month, has the last word here.
“Another fallen soldier,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
“We say goodbye to my dearest friend and fellow musician Peter.
“No reira te rangatira moe mai ra”.
The last post