AJ Brooks performing at Aperitivo, Waiheke Island
Malcolm performing at Aperitivo, Waiheke Island

Singer AJ Brooks (Alex Ludbrook) 

In 1980, Alex was born into a life of music, her parents met on stage both playing the lead in many musicals. Alex quickly acquired her parents passion and was playing songs on the keyboard and singing as early as 18 months old. When Alex was 8, she started performing in musicals also and played the lead role in many shows. Alex was a strong dancer, she learned Ballet, Tap and Cabaret from the age of 6, for 8 years at the famous Rowley Studios in Auckland and completed a short acting course when she was 9. 

 

Throughout Alex’s schooling she kept a strong focus on music. By 13 she was at the top of her school musically. She was accepted into one of Auckland's top school choirs where she was singled out to sing solo in the Sydney Opera House in 2015. At 16 (1996) Alex was accepted into ECELL School of Performing Arts where she studied a certificate in Contemporary Music Performance majoring in vocals, where she achieved exceptional grades with performance and vocal ability. In 2000 she started another certificate in Contemporary Music Performance at MAINZS (Music and Audio Engineering Institute of New Zealand).

 

After her studies, Alex gained a strong passion for R&B, Soul, Jazz & Trip Hop as well as dance music. She sang live with well known DJ at the time, Subtrax (now Eavesdrop) and spent much time in studios co-producing and writing/recording vocals.  In 2005 she wrote the vocals for track “Find a Way”, produced by Subtrax, which was released on Empathy Recordings on a compilation album for New Zealand artists called “Is this Code”. Soon after she wrote vocals for the track “You can't stop me”. This was produced by Confucius & Mysterious D on their second album “Train of Thought” (Subfirma Records). 

 

Alex moved to Melbourne in 2005, to further grow her musical capabilities and performance. She started writing her own music using skills gained in Audio Production and produced over 12 original songs which included her own lyrics and vocals. She performed them live at a number of venues across Melbourne. She also performed covers at weddings and functions and sang in bands with a variety of other musicians. 

  

In 2019 Alex moved back to Auckland after 15 years in Melbourne with the aim to break into the New Zealand scene. Alex joined Auckland & Waiheke based Jazz Ensemble “Native” as lead vocalist. She performed at “Sculpture on the Golf '' after party at Art Works and also for the “Living Waters Fundraiser '' at Cable Bay Vineyard.

 

In early 2020 Alex met Malcolm McMortone who was her son's Music Teacher, they hit it off musically and started learning repertoire to create an unique duo. Only a few months after Alex and Malcolm started performing on the Island and have been performing nearly every weekend since. They have been performing regularly Mudbirck, Fenice, Vino Vinos, Artworks, Sol Bar, Charlie Farleys, Wild on Waiheke, RSA, Bowling Club, Aperitivo and an exclusive performance at Casita Miro.

 

Alex now also works with local musician Peter Reilly (see seperate biography) focusing on an even more diverse repertoire. Peter and Alex have an incredible stage presence together and have already been performing at various venues, The Garden Festival and are set to play at Casita Miro next year for the Jazz Festival.

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Guitarist/Vocalist Peter Reilly

On returning to Auckland in 1969, Peter Godfrey asked Peter to sing Pie Jesu (Faure’s requiem) with the Dorian Singers at the newly constructed Anglican Cathedral in Parnell. The performance was recorded live and broadcast on radio nationwide. There are a few rare LP copies of this performance. If you find one, be prepared for an auditory feast!

Peter recorded his first solo album (Wish upon a Star) with the help of veteran New Zealand entertainer, Max Cryer.  Shortly after this, in February 1970, he performed a track from the LP in a live nationwide telecast (Super Pop 70) attended by a young Prince Charles and Princess Anne at Western Springs Stadium. Despite awful weather 0ver 10,000 hardy souls were there to celebrate New Zealand’s best local pop artists, in the rain.

To earn a bit of extra pocket money, Peter and his five brothers joined their parent’s cabaret group, ‘The Gypsies’, entertaining in Auckland’s top night spots through the seventies. It included appearances on Happen Inn, The Ray Columbus Show and Town and Around. At 14, while performing songs from Peter’s newly released 45 on ‘Happen Inn’, his voice broke. He very quickly disappeared from the NZ music scene to pursue other interests. While at Auckland Grammar he played Rugby, won the Drama prize, and learned Classical Guitar.

Peter attended the Auckland Medical School from 1975 to 1979. After qualifying with a BHB (Bachelor of Human Biology) and MBChB (part 1) he returned to the performing arts teaching music at the NZ Guitar Academy from 1980 to 1983. He began performing in various jazz-rock ensembles (The Persuaders, Persia, The Incurable Romantix) and in 1984, joined the NZ cast of Evita to tour Hawaii.

These days Peter performs as a solo singer-guitarist, with local Waiheke Island ensemble The Buzz Bars and with Vocalist AJ Brooks

Guitarist/Vocalist Malcolm

Malcolm is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist with a music degree and over 30 years experience as a live performer,

 

Growing up in the deep south Malcolm began learning music at 6 years old learning music theory and my first instrument, cello. Malcolm moved on to bagpipes, a culture that is alive and well in the south, and was soon competing in solo competitions around the region then nationally with the City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band who were grade 1 at the time.

 

During high school Malcolm traded cello for bass guitar, also picking up drums and guitar then forming my first originals band "The Bitch Boys". This band won Southland battle of the bands in 1996 then 2nd place and Otago University of the bands the following year, earning them free recording time and promotion.

 

Moving to Dunedin at this time Malcolm hit the covers circuit while studying for his first degree playing all around the south. Following this time he spent a few years working in Asia before returning to Otago in 2005 to study contemporary music and make a serious try for a career as a musician. He played bass in two covers bands, again playing all around the region and also formed 5 piece rock band "Made in China", writing, recording and producing their own material, touring the country multiple times and opening for countless acts including The Datsuns, Cat Empire and Dragon. 

 

Relocating to Waiheke in 2010 he set up his own business as a music tutor at Te Huruhi Primary School and for the last decade has taught guitar, drums, piano and bass to literally hundreds of pupils. He continues to play in local bands Radio Rebelde and Hatchback and he loves playing with new musical partner AJ Brooks in venues all over the Island and beyond.