Monday, April 27, 2009

Che spettacolo!

Carlo Actis Dato this evening at BMW Edge (I keep ending up there!) Being a good girl, I took seriously the request not to record or photograph and now the Melbourne Jazz website is down due to too much traffic... so we're in an image-free zone for the moment, which I will rectify as soon as I can.

Having heard Actis Dato Quartet on Jazz Up Late more than once, I knew that they would be fun. But as I said to a certain broadcasting punter (see Jazz Up Late above) after the show, the difference between hearing them and seeing them was pretty significant.

The quartet filed up on stage singing, in African style outfits. From the beginning, we heard Africa in their music. This makes sense given recent tours to Africa-type places such as Ethiopia and Egypt. The quartet is: Carlo Actis Dato (saxophone + bass clarinet), Beppe Di Filippo (alto & soprano saxophones), Matteo Ravizza (bass), Daniele Bertoni (drums/percussion)

Carlo Actis Dato is clearly the boss. Scrap that. I mean ringleader. They are a bunch of naughty naughty boys having alot of fun, or that's the impression they want to give. They're not masking any lack of skill with their antics though. It's serious music done not-so-seriously is all! Movement, energy, laughter, jokes, childish chants and rude gestures aside, you could have closed your eyes and heard an exciting concert. You could have. But I reckon you would have peeked out from behind your eyelashes every now and then just to check they were real... and to be reassured they weren't coming up the aisle towards you, to grab you and make you dance or clap or do audience participation. Yikes!

I didn't catch the name of the first tune, but the second one (Perestroik), once the band had moved on from the physical and musical soviet mimicry, included a moment at the end where S. Dato took his hands off the keys, and made movements with his hands that he then matched with sounds from the bass saxaphone. He wrung his hands and the music squawked, then fluttered his arms and hands like the wings of a bird and the music flew, before finishing with wide arms, as big as the earth and a big, wide, open sound to match.

Then a tune named after a West African country (that I can't find on the map so I must have heard the name wrong or they were taking the mickey, either of which is highly possible). A moment in the middle where Dato and Beppe Di Filipo did a kinda war dancey thingy and for a moment were in fierce golden symmetry on the stage.

Then 'Josephine Baker', and Dato contextualised for us with: "You know her? She used to dance in Espain."

"Paris," yells punter one row down. "Paris, in France."

Oh shut up.

"You remember," Dato goes on. "She was a black woman who wore bananas here [indicates 'around waist'] and goes like this, eh?' whereupon he shimmies like Josephine Baker.

"France!" repeats the punter in front.

Oh shut up.

Turns out he was one of those punters who enjoys listening to music by shaking his head vigorously from side to side.

'Don't Feed the Drummer' was a three act play, with a theme of drummer petulance. If there was an award for performance tanties, the drummer woulda won it.

'Istanbul Boogie' To quieten us down a little, but "nothing to do with boogie woogie"

A brief mention by Dato that he loves Melbourne audiences because we are 'hot' and 'responsive' (!)


'Blue Cairo' with more audience participation. A particularly enjoyable soprano sax solo by Di Filipo. An interesting sequence where Dato slowly took his Bass Clarinet apart, giving it piece by piece to Di Filipo, who re-built it from the bell up. Dato ended up with just the mouthpiece, making music by moving his hands over the opening. It could only have work with excellent musicianship. It worked, by the way!

Sahara - members of the quartet left the stage and came back on in colourful flowing robes. Then back up into the audience to harass us!

And then it ended... but not quite. "Ancora! Ancora!" from the audience (Encore in Italian by the way) and we were off again.

Somehow that turned into an essay with no pictures. Oops! Thank goodnes someone else in the audience wasn't a goody two-shoes... thanks, photographer who shall remain anonymous. Excellent pic to brighten up this post!

Picture added later, courtesy of the MIJF website!

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