06 April 2006

Carl Dewhurst @ Hippo

The Carl Dewhurst Trio played last night at Hippos. It was a fabulous display of musicianship. CDT are (or at least were on the night) Carl Dewhurst (guitar), Cameron Undy (bass) and Evan Mannell (drums). Carl and Cameron grew up in Canberra, apparently attending school together at Philip College, so it was a homecoming, and it seemed they were surrounded by friends and family.

CDT played three sets. The first two were original charts. The third comprised more obvious compositions (D blues and a C Blues with clear reference to Ellington’s C Jam Blues) but the Real Book charts made the performance no less creative. The soloing and interaction between players was exemplary throughout. Carl controlled things will complex heads and chordal accompaniments. He could be blisteringly fast, and use all manner of effects, but was mostly just used a hard electric guitar sound, reminding me at times of Mahavishnu Orchestra (others would find more recent references). Cameron Undy was both solid and interesting, hunched over his bass in concentration. He warmed to some fabulous solos, especially in the later sets. Evan Mannell was on left-handed drums. He accompanied and matched the others in trading fours and soloing.

I asked Cameron if they played together much, and his answer was indicative of the dearth of opportunities for players of modern instrumental jazz. They play perhaps 3 times a year, and he guesses he plays this style live only about 6 times a year, and occasionally in the studio. Otherwise, it’s the musician’s life of corporate gigs and weddings. He analysed the opportunities at Jazzgroove thus: 48 nights per year, with 2 bands per night, ie, 96 performances per year to be shared between ~40 bands. Improvisatory jazz is obviously not the basis of a career. And there’s SIMA.

Given infrequent performances, the level of inventiveness and togetherness is doubly astounding. Excellent art; excellent entertainment.

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