Sunday, March 4, 2012

Miriam is now writing, interviewing and researching 
jazz in Australia at 

Monday, November 2, 2009

Paul Grabowsky Sextet

The last gig. Paul Grabowsky Sextet in the WPAC Theatre. Starting late, and for the first time I stood in the media queue and had a chat before heading into the concert.

This is a hard blog post to write... I was so tired that I nearly didn't go, but somehow could not resist. I'm sure you sympathise! This is a fantastic group of musicians and the music they play is transporting. And then, of course it was another chance to hear that Steinway!

The sextet is Paul on piano, Jamie Oehlers (tenor sax) Carl Mackey (alto saxophone), Jordan Murray (trombone) Philip Rex (bass) and Niko Schauble (drums). A very west-coast line up with Jamie Oehlers, Carl Mackey and Jordan Murray all hailing originally from WA and Jamie and Carl still (mostly) based there.

So... why is this a hard blog to write? Well, I think it's important to be honest and I was half waking half sleeping through some of this concert and I'd hate that to be read as an insult. It was delicious and I did float back to my hotel room and then off to sleep in a state of bliss. Not to say in any way that the music was soporiphic or boring. I'd hate anybody to think that. But on the other hand, for that delicious hour of music I drifted between dreamscape and soundscape. It reminds me of Grabowsky's Shirley Avenue piece at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Paul's ensembles have a way of creating new worlds. Philip Rex, according to Paul is from another galaxy anyway. Perhaps that's where some of this comes from!

So thanks Paul, Jamie, Carl, Jordan, Philip and Niko... thanks for ending my Wangaratta Jazz Festival with a beautiful journey!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Andrew Robson's Thomas Tallis Quartet

My one cathedral gig this year. Andrew Robson's Thomas Tallis Quartet was something I knew I had to line up for. A wine in the hot square outside the WPAC, then on to the Holy Trinity Cathedral to join Andrew Robson and Sandy Evans (saxophones) James Greening (trombone) and Steve Elphick (bass) for an hour of medieval tunes with jazz lines. As we walked into the cathedral, the fans were going. Those fans with the hoses, that cool and dampen the air. The humidity in Wangaratta is high today - I was told 60% this morning - so dampening the air didn't make anything terribly much cooler.

This weekend was the first time the suite had been played live. Andrew gave us a run down of the music's history (based on the 15th Century Hymns of Thomas Tallis) and explained that we were going to hear the whole suite of 8 pieces. After a couple of tunes with breaks in between where we could applaud, the group decided to lose the breaks and allow us to hear everything without a break, from start to finish. It was lovely to see Andrew so chuffed about hearing the music live.

The space was perfect. The sounds were gorgeous. The tunes were just right for the venue. Playing by Andrew, Sandy, James and Steve was a delight. And somewhere in the middle we had a humidity enhancement with a sudden shower. Grins all around from the musicians as they heard it on the roof.

Ish Ish

“So groovy I just couldn’t get into it" and "You’re joking, when’s the real band coming on?" - these two quotes were used by Mike Glover in his introduction to Ish Ish. I checked, and they are real quotes! I know and love this band's music and it's a treat to hear this band because they don't play terribly often. But even I shifted in my seat when I heard this. Was this going to be an adventure I didn't want to have?

I was silly to worry of course. Ronny Ferella (drums) is the leader of this ensemble and led us through a number of familiar and new Ish Ish tunes.

Aside: It's always a bit odd to hear his voice emanating from the back of the stage. Punter beside me was wondering who was speaking!

Ish Ish is Ronny Ferella, Eugene Ball (trumpet) Jordan Murray (trombone) Julien Wilson (saxophone) Mark Shepherd (bass)

My notes mention breath. And there was something in the roof making the sounds of brushes on cymbals. There was movement, surprise, beauty. My first experience of hte WPAC Hall, too. It worked.

Picture of Ish Ish from Eugene Ball's website

Linda Oh Trio

Listening to the Linda Oh Trio is about listening. These are the sorts of soundscapes I could live in. This gig was in the WPAC Theatre, and as mentioned in a previous post, the ambience here was very well suited to the trio. Every note on Linda's bass was clear. Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire had a wonderful warm sound. Who knows what makes a listening experience this or that... but I do know that when I received a copy of the trio's CD in the post before the festival I heard one track and knew this was one of the bands I had to hear at Wangaratta on the weekend. Not disappointed. I love Linda's touch on the base. Individual notes, and spaces. Including when she played the melody.

Ambrose stood right in front of me; I was in the front row of seats. From here I could see the way he played. Entranced by his sounds, I also loved the way he did this thing that looked like kissing the trumpet. Small sweet sounds.

All three of the players (Linda Oh, Ambrose Akinmusire and Tommy Crane on drums) were interacting like old friends. Listening, conversing and enjoying themselves. Definitely a highlight of the festival for me.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wilson Magnusson

This configuration of the Wilson Magnusson Quintet is Julien Wilson on saxophone, Stephen Magnusson on guitar, Barney McCall on piano, Sam Anning bass and James McLean on drums. Wonderful music. Textured landscapes. The wailing cries of saxophone and guitar. Barney McCall's hands blurring on the piano keys as he plays along with Stephen's chattering. Moving over territory.

I noticed the way Barney sits on his stool. Kinda sideways. Shifting in his seat, never sitting full on. No particular significance. I just noticed it...


Walked in part way through the Band of Five Names. A wall of sound. Seriously, it was real, physical, heart-thumping. I had missed the build up. Punter conversations later talked about the build-up, which was happening while I was deciding that Hamilton Loomis wasn't what I wanted. I've heard the Band of Five names do this before. I've forgotten to breathe in the process! Sorry to have missed that this time.

The crashing high-tension music over, we were treated to more Bo5N sounds, the light touch kind of sounds. Spaces and delicate, clear notes. The Band of Five Names is Matt McMahon (piano), Phil Slater (trumpet), Simon Barker (drums) and a recent addition to the group Carl Dewhurst (guitar)

Matt loves the Steinway in the Theatre in the WPAC. He didn't want to leave it!

Picture of Phil Slater from SIMA website.