6 May 2016


We will only make a few concerts at this year's Canberra International Music Festival. The program seems strongly thematic this year. The title of this concert was El Camino, recalling the Camino de Santiago, the Christian pilgrimage to the remains of St James, from the border of Spain/France to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. It's now a famous and commercially-supported walk done by many intrepid, not necessarily religious travellers, but it's been a religious experience since the Middle Ages. This take was presented by the Song Company led by Roland Peelman (with addition of some local young vocalists) with guitarist Jose Maria Gallardo del Rey and several percussionists from on drums, cajon and vibes. The mix of artists changed for the various pieces. I love the Song Company for their wonderful voices, superb harmonies, clarity from solo singers doing single line parts. It is such a great vocal ensemble. That said, the first tune, Three cantigas by Alfonso X el Sabio was my favourite. This was mediaeval vocal chant with occasional claps accompanied by two simple period drums. In some ways primitive, but involving and humane and just fabulous. I could imagine this was just what the pilgrims were singing around the campfire at night and I meditated that they must have been able to sing while we leave it to the professionals. Sad, that, but a function of a busier, richer life with great division of labour. Then guitar with cajon accompaniment. I met Jose next day and he explained this as Spanish guitar, opne to sound like Flamenco or classical guitar in style. The playing was wonderfully sharp and toned and largely played without music (I can only imagine the number of dots on a guitar chart, presuming every chord and arpeggio is annotated). This is one I enjoyed watching, for the impressive left hand technique. Then guitar accompanying the Song Co for Rautavaara, again a composition about Spain (Cordoba is mentioned) and travel and dangers. The final work was a commission for the festival, Gerard Brophy Canticles. More modern, sparse, performed by Song Co with two vibes and guitar accompaniment, and using the words of Psalm 13 ad Ecclesiastes 3 (you all know this one: "a time for every matter under Heaven / a time to be born, a time to die..."). All about journeys, dangers, faith with a marked inclination to Middle Ages religious Europe. Nice.

The Song Company was led by Roland Peelman. Jose Maria Gallardo del Rey and several percussionists, presumably members of the group Tambuco, also performed.

4 May 2016


Casey, Bill and Ed, and especially Bill and Ed, are old friends of CJ so written up often enough. Even so, this was their first performance in this group at the Gods, although they had all played there in other formations over time. Surprising given they've played together for five years. It's no surprise that I admire them for the Casey's superb phrasing moving cleverly around the chordal structure and Bills superbly accurate playing that can explode but is kept in lyrical control most of the time and Ed's quiet and intense percussive movements that play with colours of instruments and lead a mobile take on the underlying pulse throughout any tune. This is intense and skilled but disciplined. All that we've seen developing over the years but displayed even more strongly after these years together and this post-tertiary training time. They played several originals, I think from Casey's pen, and a few standards and jazz tunes. We know the standards so understand better how they improvise their take on them. I should care is a cyclic standard from the movies and the Great American Songbook so their take on this is demonstrative: inventive, playful, sequenced phrases and mobile time feels and a sweet, driving but relaxed walk. Giant steps was more elusive; Fee fi fo fum evident but divergent. The originals were complex in time and often in changes, again mobile in feel and intensely interacted. All the tunes were that: they play like they've played together for time and they have. Perhaps the showpiece was a 25min number that they'd just recorded for release sometime soonish: long form; 3 parts; a certain chordal regularity. Bill laid down his best solo of the night - awe inspiring - and Ed finished with one; Casey was ongoing with his malleable phrasing. Amusingly Casey himself said later in the night he only wishes to hear so much music like this, intellectual and complex and challenging as it is, but this just tells the value and loftiness of this music. Stunningly rich and intellectually satisfying. The quest continues.

Casey Golden (piano) led a trio with Bill Williams (bass) and Ed Rodrigues (drums) at the Gods.

2 May 2016

Basses loaded

Excuse the baseball analogy, but this is the first time I've played with a full bass section of four bases (some sections are bigger, but 4 is a standard). This was Maruki in rehearsal for its concert on 5 June playing Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn and Dvorak. The sound was great, not least from Matt's contribution with chops and new bass and bow for big volume. Sadly, we will only be in three for the concert proper. From left, bassists are Matthew Gambrill, Eric Pozza, Jennifer Groom and Geoff Prime.

30 April 2016


We describe Tilt as a crossover jazz/pop. That doesn't usually expand to jazz/opera, but this night it did, at least to opera singer if not opera arias. Lisa Maeorg is a mate from schooldays. We caught up recently as she's been visiting Canberra for other matters. She studied singing at Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide, but that's a different world: this was her first outing in a jazz context. It's a strangely different voice from the jazz voices I've backed. Lisa recounts that a Hungarian tutor had labelled her lyrico-spinto (from Wikipedia: "Italian for 'pushed lyric', the Spinto soprano has the brightness and height of a lyric soprano, but can be 'pushed' to dramatic climaxes without strain, and may have a somewhat darker timbre"). So be it. We hadn't practiced with the band so this was a baptism of fire and a challenge all round. No conductor, the sparseness of a lead-sheet and the looseness of jazz had us struggling a bit at times, but when it clicked it was a fascinating and airy experience with sky-high voice and busy elaborations over firm grooves. Nothing that a bit of acculturation wouldn't fix. Thanks, Lisa, and welcome to jazz.

Lisa Maeorg (soprano vocal) sat in with Tilt at the Tradies. Tilt are James Woodman (piano), Eric Pozza (bass) and Dave McDave (drums).

This is CJBlog post no. 1600.

28 April 2016

15 years

This session was called Fifteen Years On : Where Next for Terrorism Laws? I've followed these laws developing over time, blithely bulldozing human rights and privacy and the rest, accepted by what seems to me, at least, an unthinking population that fears terrorism (don't we all) but doesn't notice that the numbers in Australia are ingratiatingly tiny, repeats the line "nothing to hide" not imagining any possible alternate futures (did the Germans, amongst the most advanced societies of their time, think that way into the 1930s?). So, I've subscribed to a VPN but there's still a two-year record of my location at any time, accessible by a number of agencies with no judicial oversight. We fretted about the Australia Card but this is relative steroids. As for pre- and post-sentencing detention, by decision of Ministers and Police again without judicial oversight. Preventative detention, to prevent a crime, innocent until proven guilty? Nothing done, so no guilt. Or removal citizenship, not by a secret Committee, but by a legerdemain of self-action. I can see the dangers and recognise the bind of the politician, that they must be seen to be doing something, even as the legal profession frets over the extent of legislation put in place and much being contrary to the rule of law. Ever more fears, ever more legislation, reactive to the latest atrocity, here or elsewhere. Yep, it's difficult, so leadership is required. Pusillanimous chaperoning of public fears is not leadership even if it is politically serving. How did Fraser, in his days, lead Australia to accept Vietnamese refugees? [Strange how he changed over time, from despised by the left to statesman speaking truth and Whitlam's mate]. None of this is as simple as suggested.

But what of the session. Some were there to hear Gillian Triggs, now hero of many. The others were Helen Watchirs, recently appointed ACT's Human Rights Commissioner, and Fergal Davis of UNSW, all facilitated by Karen Middleton and introduced by Jon Stanhope. They talked mainly around detention, but touched on metadata retention later. About how the laws have ramped up since 2001; about the surges of fear and anger through children overboard (misleading as this was subsequently found to be), Tampa, then 9-11; about the lack of human rights provisions (other than Vic & ACT); about control orders and long sunset clauses and a lack of legislative review; about comparisons with other rich countries (our laws are more draconian); about detention as an executive regime rather than a criminal law function; of the surrounding secrecy, for "on water matters" and detention centre workers (this is asylum-seeker matters, but related); of definitions, like including "things" (broad, yes, but it's in counter-terrorism legislation) or the requirement of "imminent" threat changing to "possible, capable of happening"; that the rule of law requires legislation to be proportionate and necessary and someone suggested also effective; of ramping up legislation when the changes wouldn't have prevented the recent atrocity (say, with the age-16 murderer who was off Police radar, or Monis who was not under any control despite 20+ charges of aggression or violence. I have my own favourite here, showing this reactive mindset in legislation expends beyond terrorism. There was a death in an accident in Fyshwick. One speeding car [~110kph?] hit another car coming off a curb into a three-way intersection. In response the speed limit in Fyshwick was reduced 60kph>50kph. No relation to the accident but prompted by it). The inept but chilling Operation Fortitude by our own black-shirted Border Force came up, as did Charlie Hebdo and 18C. Through all this, all argued that counter-terrorism laws are necessary but they must be proportionate and necessary. KM summed up the discussion: Counter-Terrorism laws are necessary; they should be properly drafted and observed, with adequate protections; political responses should be proportionate; the threat is real but largely external; ACT sets an example for its approach to Human Rights; comparisons with other countries. Nothing to hide? Muse on this quote from Gillian Triggs: "sleepwalking into Executive overreach of power not overseen by a judiciary".

The Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (Univ of Canberra) partnered with Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House to stage a "democratic conversation" Fifteen Years on : Where to Next for Terrorism Laws? Jon Stanhope introduced Karen Middleton (facilitator) and Gillian Triggs, Helen Watchirs and Fergal Davis.

25 April 2016

Purity with a glow

Paul Goodchild has become a favourite brass player of mine so I jumped at tickets for his Sunday afternoon concert at the High Court. This was a duo presentation (occasionally solo) with accompanist Susanne Powell, once of the ANU School of Music. The concert was a great pleasure. Firstly, just for the wonderfully controlled and pure sound from Paul's brass. He played a range of instruments: Bb and C trumpets, flugelhorn and a cornet played at Gallipoli (this being the Anzac Day weekend). He also played a range of musics: a sonatine from Martinu and a sonata from Jean Hubeau; a period piece called At dawn, by Percy Code, played with the Gallipoli cornet; several local original pieces by local composers, Deep in summer, written by Eve Duncan for PG, and Blue triangle and Ornithologia, but nature-inspired pieces by Sydneysider Alan Holley who spoke during the interval (I could hear little given the PA) and a strangely names piece, Flugelhorn and piano, by Michael Nyman, always accessible and attractive. Paul's tone is so pure on trumpet, rich and earthy on the conical bored instruments, cornet and flugelhorn, and the cathedral-like echo and reverb just added a presence and a glow. A quiet following a firm staccato left something like a 3-second ring containing a few waves of echo. Suzanne commented on it to me and obviously enjoyed it, although I think the effect is best enjoyed over the strong and pure clarity of the trumpet. I also wondered about the accompanist's life, learning other people's music at short notice on the multi-fingered instrument which is the piano. It must demand excellent sightreading but also a poised confidence in performance. An encore just happened to be sitting on the music stands, a virtuoso Concert etude by Alexander Goedicke. Wow! Chops and tone. Great pleasure.

Paul Goodchild (trumpets, flugelhorn, cornet) was accompanied by Susanne Powell (piano) at the High Court.

23 April 2016


Raman are mates and I played with Mike and Nitya sometime back when I got back into jazz. I caught them at Smiths. They play around with groove styles, it seems mostly grooves designed by Mike, along with some Indian influences form Nitya. I first thought of Japanese noodles but they are spelt with an e. This spelling suggests Raman spectroscopy from the physicist who discovered the Raman effect (light scattering thorough transparent materials causing changed wavelengths) but I doubt the group thinks of that during a performance. Mike is strong on guitar with a well-developed use of pedals. His guitar can scream. Nitya adds a range of acoustic colours: concert flute and various bamboo flutes, alto clarinet and tenor and soprano sax. Perhaps my favourite was his Indian influenced wordless vocals in the liveliest tune I heard, variously called Sitar and blind snake and Broken sitar and snake. I guess the contested title is a running joke. Certainly, I couldn't guess the title from the wordless melody, but it felt authentic and wordly and had a nice drive. The groove was stronger and the solos easier on this one, the length more indulgent and the tones varied, with solos from guitar and wooden flute and soprano sax. Otherwise, this is instrumentals, blues tunes, virtually unnamed numbers like Groove no.5 and Mike's other song and Mike's blues. But they range widely, as with Highland swing and a latin called Sail. The latin felt comfy; the Highland swing didn't particularly say Scotland to my ears, but it worked as another attractive groove. Good to see old mates playing the scene; too little catchups otherwise.

Raman are Nitya (saxes, flutes, clarinet), Mike Mamantov (guitar), Alan Lee (bass) and Andrew Howard (drums).

21 April 2016

Shooting Bambi

There's value in a good metaphor and this was a beauty: laying into the CSIRO is "a bit like shooting Bambi". It was Kim Carr who said it and he's a pollie so he'd know the value of good talkin' but this was a stunner. The message was that the CSIRO may be less thought of these days, but is iconic and part of the mythology of Australian 20th Century history, like Gallipoli or Vegemite, and you touch it at your peril. We were at a "Community Consultation" about the CSIRO cuts. It was organised by Labor so serving some political purpose. The various introduces included all out local Federal Labor pollies (Gai Brodtmann, Andrew Leigh and Katy Gallagher) but the main speakers were John Finnegan (CSIRO Fellow Professor, FAA) and Kim Carr (Senator, Shadow Minister for Research and Innovation, with considerable past experience in the portfolio as minister). There was talk of "innovation" real or political chatter; various CSIRO successes; science literacy and that period without a science minister under Abbott; climate change (denial); the "literal decimation" of CSIRO (1 in 10 jobs are threatened); the backlash from Australia and internationally. CSIRO staff could little speak of internal matters (public conversation being a standard of conservative, business-oriented free-speech advocates). JF spoke of the integration of science teams and how it develops and is required for modern science, giving a fascinating example from his own experience. All this with relevance to climate research, long-term preparation, innovation as more than just consumer gadgets. Kim Carr spoke from his experience as past relevant minister, of priorities and management and governance and how the minister actually had influence (Libs are claiming this is all happening at arm's length, that CSIRO is independent; but government has removed funding and put the Board in place, even if not directly the CEO). He observed that the changes are a "very bad idea, very poorly implemented" and I understood he quoted Larry Marshall saying "change its culture and its history". ["Change history"??? What Stalinesque intention is that?]. I understand this was from the Senate Committee hearing. KC promised more in policy during this extended electoral campaign, including a review of CSIRO governance and management. Then some Q&A covering things like German management of Sci-tech research; Alan Finkel's (Australia's "Chief Scientist") actions; the role of CSIRO and developing and keeping some of our best minds; a real-life description of upcoming PhDs despairing of Australia for a career and seeking work elsewhere (innovative nation? think coal); Australia's descent as a respected scientific nation (CSIRO changes, coal and climate); research and mitigation (Larry Marshall's approach to climate change); climate and national security; Fair Work and its demands on CSIRO management to conduct proper consultation; CSIRO as a "glorified consultancy"; caretaker period and CSIRO redundancies and contracts; science outreach and public perceptions (the Bambi quote); alternates masquerading as science (anti-vaxxers and the string of conspiracy nuts). I liked KC when he responded to someone's "if only everyone could agree" saying this is not politics; politics is fundamentally adversarial because there are different views of the world and different interests seeking to be protected. Various groups were in attendance: AYCC (Australian Youth Climate Coalition); LEAN (Labor Environment Action Network) was new to me and Friends of the CSIRO was just plain new. I can only concur that these changes are bonkers and dangerous. I have written to Turnbull and the CSIRO Board on this and will continue. You too are invited. Save CSIRO for science.

John Finnegan (CSIRO Fellow Professor, FAA) and Kim Carr (Senator, Shadow Minister for Research and Innovation) spoke at a Labor-organised Community Consultation on CSIRO changes.

18 April 2016

Knowing the Bible better

I knew of Elijah but not his story. Douglas McNicol was Elijah in the Mendelssohn Oratorio with the Llewellyn Choir and Sinfonia under Rowan Harvey-Martin. The other soloists were Rebecca Collins and Christina Wilson and Michael Martin and Charlie Barnes. So, mainly a local affair with numerous recognised faces, but with import DMcN who went through Elder Con with a friend so I knew of Elijah. I didn't know Elijah's story and didn't know Mendelssohn's setting except a few choral pieces that I've sung: He that shall endure to the end and O come everyone that thirsteth. Both are memorable themes that had me lift my ears. We enjoy much music through recognition. If I didn't know it, certainly DMcN did: he carried music under his arm but I didn't notice him reading it and he was the busiest amongst all the singers. Elijah was baritone, supported by tenor, soprano, mezzo-soprano, and, for just a few lines, boy treble. This was a noble and impressive effort and not one for wusses. The program was three hours including the interval. I pondered the style at one stage. It's obviously not baroque, but the bass style is ordered and scalar like baroque and the singing style also neat and even. The big choral sections were a pleasure as these always are, with ~100 singers giving voice. I enjoyed watching RH-M, too, involved and guiding. A big performance of a Biblical story with much satisfaction that deserved a better-informed listener.

Mendelssohn Elijah was performed by the Llewellyn Choir and Sinfonia under Rowan Harvey-Martin (conductor) with Pip Thompson (concertmaster), Anthony Smith (repetiteur) and soloists Douglas McNicol (baritone), Rebecca Collins (soprano), Christina Wilson (mezzo-soprano), Michael Martin (tenor) and Charlie Barnes (treble).

17 April 2016

Tapping and writhing

Like many creative professionals, Cleon Barraclough has a string of projects on tap. Jackal is one, a new one, on its first tour. Jackal is a keyboard trio - keys/bass/drums - (at least currently) playing a mix of fusion, jazz and Afro-Cuban. I have the feeling this will develop as a jazz funk band, although a very sophisticated one, but their gig used a number of earlier compositions from other outings. And one cover, a tune by Gonzalo Rubalcaba. These guys have serious chops. Cleon showed me a chart for one tune: about 11 pages long. He told me he writes on Sibelius, gathering lines and ideas and grooves to form this most complex structure that moves time signatures, keys, grooves, feels, sharing spotlights, inserting solos. Only three players, but this is dense and high energy and every player is a driving soloist although each will also drop back to comp when required. The audience wasn't big so there was chatter, not least a demo of one part where drums play 4 and bass plays a dotted crochet 7-note pattern for an intertwining polyrhythm. Cleon added that he had to solo against that. Several times I noticed bassist Patrick look intently at Cleon to hold a challenging line or latin clave. Patrick was a stunner soloist, playing is that modern chordal style, fingering somewhat like a classical guitarist, soft thumbing, blistering lines with not a few sweeps, and using effective effects on a satisfyingly woody-toned bass (MTD 5-string). Cleon was on Yamaha grand here at the Groove Warehouse (unamplified and not always loud enough, especially for his band mates - the band wasn't so, so loud but it was electric and it was energetic) but also a Privia piano and Motif synth. Plenty of complex left hand work, glances at the charts for very difficult arrangements (all the band had charts and flipped pages regularly), nicely melodic solos and some lovely Afro-Cuban work. In some ways, I thought Luke on drums held it together: firm, accurate, fast and filled but with restraint, and full of fascinating interleaved rhythmic patterns on various limbs. The tunes were almost all originals, mostly long and complex, other than a ballad from Patrick called Roberta. The writing was pretty much even between Cleon and Patrick. I particularly liked the Afro-Cuban rhythmic complexity. Seems like there's a theme here, and it's Afro-Cuban. The fusion could remind me of Weather Report and its ilk and I my feet tapped with that, but the latin stuff had my whole body moving. How insinuating is this? So, fabulously virtuosic fusion and insinuating Afro-Cuban music. Great stuff.

Jackal are Cleon Barraclough (piano, keyboards), PJ (Patrick) Farrell (bass) and Luke Pammenton (drums) and they played at Groove Warehouse.

16 April 2016

Tale of two elections (spoken of one)

It's only a local election (with city-state-level consequences) but they say all politics is local (not in my book) and being informed is a citizenly sort of thing to do. And I'm annoyed with tram and Manuka Green and more and wanted to see the fireworks (there were none). The event was another conversation held in the Theo Notaras Centre called by Jon Stanhope and the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA) at UCAN. I enjoy these sorts of things and this was a particularly impressive gathering. Virginia Haussegger chaired a panel of four: Jack Waterford, Kirsten Lawson, John Warhurst and Ian Miekle. Suffice to say any local news junkie will knows these names. The topic was the election, or elections, coming up this year: ACT in October; Federal perhaps a double dissolution on 2 July, otherwise August/September. Lots spoken over the hour or so, but here are a few gems or themes. This ACT election will be different, newly expanded from 3 to 5 electorates, 17 to 25 MLAs, each seat with 5 members (no seat of 7 members as previously), each seat representing a clearly defined region. All this effects likely outcomes. KL suggested a likely outcome as 12Lab/12Lib/1Green; others concurred as far as possible for now. Dominating issues should be health and education, but trams (perhaps Manuka Green) are divisive. An "It's time" factor is possible, but complacency may reign. Labor's transitioning and Liberal's right wing may be issues. JW just expects different rents seekers to appear with different governments (he's been here, seen that). Panelists expressed concerns about short-term thinking, in voters and parties, and lack of vision. Jeremy Hanson was quizzed on social matters and didn't show as so right wing, but his backbench may be different ("fairly extreme"). There's possible punishment of Labor/Greens for allying, but this is a Green-leaning town. Panelists saw no particular personality factors. One wondered if a tram would be a chosen option now, with changes in technology in the air, and, given the cost and other problems with this one line, would any more ever be built. Interestingly, one identified the tram as a means of maintaining Labor support with younger Gunghalin voters (but it could also turn bad). Once again, 35yo+ white males are being categorised for anti-tram sentiment (I find this line tiresome) even though the panel, too, sounded none too convinced of light rail. Me-too-ism was identified in the Libs in the context that governments lose elections, oppositions don't win. Interestingly, one observation (Jack Waterford, I think) was that "politicians without belief get repudiated", to which IM responded, what of Abbott, with the obvious rejoinder that the belief "must be what people believe in". There was a mention of the Unions ACT campaign that seeks pledges to vote Labor. There's no way I'd do that and KL was similarly reticent. There was discussion on how to influence politics (the path is through parties), but how hard it is, and the level of powerlessness expressed by the public (90% federally; 70% locally). Then talk of social activism and vibrant communities and the fact Howard still went into Iraq despite widespread social action. Bob Douglas' Sea Change group was raised, but seen as a possible long-term influence. JW (Warhurst) suggested voters "must be brave" to change votes for issues or be ignored. Also that parties are not controlled by members, but by suits, so strong views don't change things, actions do (think Tea Party, Obama dems, etc). The Federal election was touched on but mainly only in passing. Perhaps there was more but that's the drift.

The Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at University of Canberra staged a commuity discussion on the election(s) with Virginia Haussegger (chair) and panelists Jack Waterford, Kirsten Lawson, John Warhurst and Ian Miekle.

15 April 2016

Befores and afters

Just a note and some pics. Vista Needle were in town and performing at the School of Music. First up were a few workshops, at ANU but also a drum workshop at Groove Warehouse. I got to the first band workshop, at ANU, with hosts Steve Barry and Tom Botting. Two bands passed through the gaze for masterclass comment. "You guys can play" was the first comment then into discussion of energy and communication and dynamics, and count-offs as setting the scene, solo structure (where's the peak of the melody), approaches to improv (as an exercise, state a melodic cell and manipulate and develop), solo accompaniment (esp. behind those hoary bass solos), laying out (ask yourself, "is what I'm doing helping?"), approaches to bossa and use of various approaches (pedal point was mentioned).

Then, after the gig that night, I caught a snippet of a rehearsal for Mendelssohn Elijah by Llewellyn Choir, soloists and players on the stage in Llewellyn. Looking forward to the real thing on Saturday.

Steve Barry and Tom Botting gave a workshop at ANU and Llewellyn Choir rehearsed Mendelssohn Elijah.

14 April 2016

Various twentieth centuries

Vista Needle is a new project of Steve Barry and Daniel Susnjar with Tom Botting on bass and they are touring the Eastern states. The spiel talks of influences of Paul Hindemith and Federico Mompou so I was a bit surprised to hear them warm up, before the gig, with a supremely delicate take on a sentimental standard, When I fall in love. But what pleasure. Then the first tune of the night was another standard, Everything I love. Both played with piano trio delicacy, great awareness and subtlety and flexibility by Tom, wonderful inventiveness by Steve, enjoying the sound of notes, then playing a flurry or colouring with all manner of chordal or scalar fills, and Daniel present but quiet and playing time and, at times, playing with time. I was thinking this is more Bill Evans than Hindemith. But the concert was mainly originals and some takes on the early 2th century composers. Early on, a Hindemith fugue that was a minimal, single chord, groove with a dotted crochet feel. It sat with slight variation, more promising than delivering after the clarity of a few standards. There were two pieces by Catalan Mompou (not known to me), both from his Musica Colada (=Silent music). No.3 was given a Monk treatment with various time signatures. No.15 was more flowing, haunting dissonant melody. But VN is also a vehicle for originals. Steve provided three. One with that common title, Untitled, started quietly in three with finger percussion from Daniel, then developed to a strong middle with deep syncopation and determined solo from Tom and a gloriously modern-styled piano solo. I'm thinking this is bliss. Then Steve's At the moment (Organic melody no.1), which was much more open, time indeterminate, free-styled. Daniel provided a tune with dedication to several renowned Catalans (Mompou, Dali and Gaudi were mentioned), more a pensive mid-tempo jazz tune. Another great bass solo and Daniel's first of two drum solos. I heard both his solos as intelligent dissection of time within a neatly overarching development to climax. Then a final tune by Steve, great solos all round, testing syncopations and unison lines, driving in 4 but heavily subdivided. So, really inventive and capable playing all around and some really effective originals and those explorations of Hindemith and Mompou. A fascinating and deeply satisfying concert.

Vista Needle is a project of Steve Barry (piano) and Daniel Susnjar (drums) with Tom Botting (bass). They played at the Band Room at ANU.

12 April 2016

On stage

NCO will be playing a few concerts later in the year in Llewellyn Hall, not least this corker, Carmina Burana with the Canberra Choral Society. So in the meantime, we snuck in a practice on the stage at Llewellyn when our normal venue was busy. Nice, open sound, although big and empty without an audience. Plenty to space and nice furniture for the strings and others, and orchestral music stands, a large Steinway out the back (nothing less expected) but one little indignity: having to supply my own bass stool. Nice also to have colleagues in adjacent rooms rehearsing Mendelssohn Elijah then coming in for a listen. Otherwise, this was a nice workout in a prestigious location and first time I've played on this stage, even if only for rehearsal.

National Capital Orchestra rehearsed on the stage at Llewellyn Hall.