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James (Jim) Langabeer

Composer, Jazz Composer, Performer

Born: 1942 Died: 2022


There was always music and music-making in Jim Langabeer’s childhood. His mother played piano and young aunt Marion was a very talented pianist and piano-accordionist. Family music-making making was common, with part singing encouraged. Jim learned to play ukulele and simple piano chords, and his trumpet teacher Lew Campbell encouraged him to keep a workbook for working out chord progressions and writing tunes.

When making group music as a young teen began happening, Jim’s first effort, words and music, was called Rock-It To The Moon, for a busking trio group of friends. Jim continued piano lessons, and passing grade exams, eventually taking Music 1 as part of a B.A. degree, and later Teacher Training.

In 1967, Jim featured in one of the first shows on NZ television, called Jazz Mode, writing an original tune for this. While at University, he also worked in rock and recording sessions with Freddie Keil and the Kavaliers, The Keil Isles, Tommy Adderley, Lou and Simon, The Prophets, and Peter Posa. Arranging and composing was a part of his contributing musicianship.

1974 was the year that friend Richard (Dick) Nunns, Jim, and several Christchurch modern players formed the Double Quartet (8 piece) and featured several taonga puoro instruments.

In 1984 Langabeer was selected on scholarship to take part in two months worth of workshops and individual tuition with the Creative Music School in New York. There he met Granchan Moncur III, David Liebman, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Karl Berger, Roswell Rudd, John Cage and several others. Jim’s notebook from this period includes sketches for a quartet called Waitemata- Sparkling Waters, which later inspired several of the compositions on Superbrew’s Africa/Aroha award winning release. Namibia and Agbeka were sketched after two weeks with Baba Olatunji, which included music making at NY jazz club, The Sounds of Brazil.

In 2016 James Langabeer was awarded a Master of Music degree with first class honours. His 64 page essay includes many new compositions, several recorded on Secret Islands with Rosie Langabeer, such as Puawai Rata (Rata Flowers), Roundabop, Multiphonic Mood, and What If.