Explore the original Bongo Nation website from April 2006

Bongo Nation

a repertoire of new music 2006



The BONGO NATION idea and repertoire was originally developed by New Zealand composer Tom Ludvigson.

BONGO NATION is performed at rehearsals and live shows by Auckland musicians Geordie Gardener (guitar), Nigel Gavin (oud), Jim Langabeer (saxophones / flute), Trevor Reekie (guitar), Scott Rogers (drums), Peter Scott (bass).


The BONGO NATION repertoire consists of twenty new original New Zealand compositions, drawing on the rich rhythmic traditions of West Africa and the Caribbean Islands.

BONGO NATION instrumentation: the BONGO NATION music is preferably performed on portable wooden / acoustic instruments - bamboo / wooden marimbas, harmonicas, melodicas, ukeleles, maracas, cabasas, guiros, wood blocks and hand drums.

BONGO NATION shows have been staged by two Auckland bands - Bluespeak and Calypso Jam.

The BONGO NATION performance concept: A fresh BONGO NATION comes into existence whenever the repertoire is performed - the 'nation' for the occasion is the group of musicians plus the audience that participate in and experience the performance of the music. That means that you too can be a citizen of the BONGO NATION! Just join the BONGO NATION on the next occasion - come to the next performance of the BONGO NATION repertoire! DO THE BONGO!


BONGO NATION development took place in Auckland, New Zealand.

The BONGO NATION World Premiere took place in February 2006 when a selection of the BONGO NATION compositions was performed by 'Bluespeak' jazz trio at the Co-existence exhibition at Britomart Green in downtown Auckland.

A BONGO NATION milestone show happened in March 2006 when fourteen of the BONGO NATION compositions were performed by legendary New Zealand reed man Jim Langabeer's quartet 'Calypso Jam' at Auckland City's longest established jazz venue the London Bar.


The BONGO NATION compositions began taking shape in January 2006, with the first public performances following in February and March.


BONGO NATION is a new direction inspired by reggae and World music, with an emphasis on rhythm - especially African uses of 6/8 meter - combining cool music traditions, hot rhythms and good times.


The BONGO NATION compositions were developed as a set of variations / permutations / combinations of a limited number of elements: five basic traditional musical forms, seven keys (five major and two minor - a harmonica-driven selection) and a set of titles derived from Jamaican history.

The BONGO NATION music marries the rich musical traditions of the Caribbean (think Reggae / Calypso / Afro-Cuban) to the freedom of free-form improvised jazz, striking the right balance balance between structure and freedom by using minimal charts - scores that provide sufficient guidance for concerted collaboration among the musicians performing the pieces, but not enough for the players to get by without making up their own detailed contributions to the final result, so that each performance of the BONGO NATION repertoire delivers a unique mix of composition and improvisation to your ears, featuring strong elements of both tradition and innovation.