Friday, May 23, 2008


"Listen," said the Stonnington Jazz official who led me up the dark corridor and into the (almost sold out) performance space at Chapel off Chapel. "This band is very grungy and bluesy. You know that, don't you."

"Yes yes," I said, as I rubbed my hands together with glee (mentally of course, because I was holding the obligatory glass of red wine) BAZ, led by guitarist Aaron Flower is from Sydney. Zoe Hauptman on bass, her brother James Hauptman on drums, Karl Laskowski (saxophone) Bruce Reid (lap steel guitar).

Tonight we were definitely treated to grunge and blues. And jazz and ... well a thumping good time actually!

Aaron Flower is another guitarist with a distinctive voice - I seem to be raving about guiatarists and piano players during this festival!

But back to the gig. I've been in the habit of sitting down at one of the tables right in front of the band but decided tonight to sit up in the tiered seats behind. I wanted to be in the audience and feel what it felt. Audiences are great barometers. When--at the end of a festival like this--I've heard so much music that I'm not even sure what I think any more, I can use the audience as a touch point. What the audience does as one is useful for a group opinion on what's going on. Individual taste, preference, tiredness and constraints disappear and what you get is a good snapshot of how this culture at this time is going to think of what's happening on the stage.

And let me tell you that tonight was the WRONG NIGHT to go and sit up in the tiered seats, if I wanted to sit quietly in my seat and listen! Not only was I commandeered by the music, but those tiered seats were rockin' man! They are sturdy (they hold about 200 of us I think) but they were shaking and the peoples' feet were tapping. Those seats were having an excellent time.

Highlights: It's touching to hear a musician play as the first song in a set, a piece that transparently acknowledges an influence. D Minor is dedicated to Bill Frisell. Next Fraser Street (not sure of the spelling of this one and forgot to check. Bad blogger, naughty blogger) and in it I heard twinges of a band called 'Cake' (did I imagine it?) who hail from California and whose music you will have heard if you are a fan of the Black Books series on the ABC. My notebook tells me that Dark Ballad 'went off' starting slowly and heating up to something irresistible and 16 Bar Snooze [not sure if I got that name right] was very 'rock' but had some fantastic saxophone by Karl.

Environment notes: cold again at Chapel off Chapel, but it was acknowledged by management. Announcements by PBS broadcaster Simon Bonney who does Giant Steps on that radio station every Tuesday.

Photo: Aaron Flower, courtesy of Stonnington Jazz

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