Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bernie McGann, Jex Saarelaht Trio, Jamie Oehlers

Chapel off Chapel tonight. Another sold out concert. Congratulations Stonnington! The Announcer Bloke tonight was Gerry Koster of ABC Classic FM's Jazz Up Late and the concert was being recorded for ABC Classic FM's Jazztrack programme. A regular Aunty Fest at the Chapel!

And you can always tell the ABC's recording because of the array of interesting shaped microphones... Clever, eh!

Our musicians tonight... Bernie McGann (alto sax), Jex Saarelaht (piano), Philip Rex (bass) Niko Schauble (drums) Jamie Oehlers (tenor sax)

Bernie McGann does Monk! What a treat! Announcer bloke had some very nice things to say about Mr McGann and his alto. And they all turned out to be true! And I had no idea I was a Monk fan, until tonight. I had heard everything in the set list before, (of course, of course, Thelonius Monk is a favourite of many musicians... I know that) But I'm not good with names.

Trying to get better though... here's what this little blogger wrote down during the concert (and then checked spelling on Google!!) Eronel, Let's Cool One, Ask Me Now, Hackensack, Well, You Needn't, Straight No Chaser, Epistrophy Interesting fact, that when searching Google with possible spellings for Eronel, it keeps asking 'Are you sure you don't mean urinal?'

But back to Bernie. I first heard him live at the now-defunct Side-on in Annandale (Sydney). I'd been told about him, but remember clearly being struck by his sound. I think of stringybark honey when I hear him play. Not sure why... but there's something unique and essential about the flavour of stringybark honey and the sound of Bernie's alto, so maybe that's it. I was struck tonight by the way he carries his instrument, the way he plays it and the way he lays it down. It is well-worn and had been held and played on more nights than I've had hot dinners [now there's a phrase you don't hear often enough these days!] When he holds it, making music, waiting to step up and play, or just holds it, as he sits to one side between turns, there's a sense that it's part of him. He's not holding something separate.

Highlights: It was all great! Both sets were quite different and good for their own reasons. Second set with Jamie in the mix was phenomenal. Jamie Oehlers and Bernie playing together and alternating on Well, You Needn't. That was bloody wonderful to listen to and watch. And they seemed to be getting into it as well. Philip Rex's bass solo on Straight No Chaser caught the attention of more than one punter.

Evironment notes: Foyer hot, concert space freezing. Regulars at this venue will sympathise.

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