You hear loads of music at a festival. I didn’t take notes so all I can give is some remaining impressions rekindled by looking at pics of the various outfits. Here are some of those favourite pics, and perhaps some short comments on the various outfits. Apologies to the worthy bands I missed, but you have to leave some for next time.
Sean Wayland (piano) played a quartet set with James Muller (guitar), Matt Penman (bass) and Jochen Ruckert (drums). Sean is much respected, and I’ve heard at least one tune dedicated to him by other players. He’s now based in New York. This gig presented his NY trio with the addition of James Muller. Always a pleasure to hear guys like this. James is never a disappointment. Matt was a common sight on stage at this festival. It’s interesting watching players at this level, especially bassists. They don’t necessarily impress with chops, but more with style and substance. This was deceptively simple playing with real class.
Dan Rader presented straight bop and post-bop using very competent players and led by a performer with a long history. The Quintet was Dan Rader (trumpet), Willow Neilson (tenor), Gerard Masters (piano), Brendan Clarke (bass) and Tim Firth (drums). I was particularly taken by some more modern, out soloing by Gerard. Obviously, so was Don as he looked on with respect. Some originals and plenty of known tunes.
Judy Bailey is a blast from my vinyl past. I’m sure I have an album from the 70s by JB. Capable, post bop playing in a trio with equally competent Craig Scott (bass) and Tim Firth (drums).
Jex Saarelaht (piano) led a quartet with Julien Wilson (saxes), Sam Anning (bass) and Danny Fischer (drums).
Julien Wilson (tenor sax) reappeared with Stephen Grant (accordion) and Steve Magnussen (guitar) in the Elana Stone (vocals) Quartet playing sea shanties and similar songs.
Doug DeVries (classical guitar) played a solo session on nylon strung guitar in the local Holy Trinity Cathedral, and benefitted from the acoustics.
At the more challenging end of the scale, Ren Walters (guitar), Chris Bekker (bass guitar), Niko Schauble (drums) appeared as Tip with guest Tony Hicks (sax). Tip is a improvisational trio for frameworks provided by Ren. Challenging, yes, and very addictive as complex emotions and interplay grow before your eyes. And the first electric bass I saw for the event. Good, solid, middy tone which matched the music well.
The Pascal Schumacher Quartet featured all-Euro players: Pascal Schumacher (vibes), Jef Neve (piano), Christophe Devisscher (EUB=bass) and Jens Duppe (drums). This was a competent outfit playing original music, as I remember, with considerable variations in time signatures and grooves and quite a deal of arrangement. The grooves were in the Euro style, which always seems to me to be softer and less frantic than the US counterpart. I put it down to the influences of folk and classical music that are often so strong in Euro jazzers.
Another Euro band was actually an international collaboration between Melbourne and Denmark: Jakob Dinesen-Eugene Ball Quartet. This one displayed more raunchy US-style rhythms and harmonies. Danes Jakob Dinesen (tenor) and Guffi Pallesen (bass) and Melbournites Eugene Ball (trumpet) and Rajiv Jayaweera (drums) have played together several times in recent years. I liked this more anglo style, with good hard swings and attractive ballads.
Mark Isaacs (piano, composer) performed with James Muller (guitar), Matt Keegan (sax), Brett Hirst (bass) and Tim Firth (drums) as Resurgence. Mark is a significant Australian musician with considerable classical/jazz crossovers to his credit, having composed works for orchestra as well as playing with major jazz artists including Dave Holland and Roy Haynes. I found the music interesting in a fairly soft, arranged, Deodato style. Solos were mainly on one or two chord structures, and it was all done superbly professionally with excellent players.
Gest8 (as in gestate): only a woman could lead a band with this name. And so it was. Gest8 played the final concert of the festival program on the Sunday night. Gest8 is a musical vehicle of Sandy Evans and Tony Gorman, with Sandy up front leading on stage. It involves some interesting, new, experimental sounds and approaches. As well as more traditional jazz instruments, there’s a koto player and a computerist cum programmer on stage. The computer (Mac, not PC) was obviously processing sounds with echo and the like in real time. Interesting, but only obvious to me on one trumpet solo passage. I was amused by the tune Kaleidoscope, which is more in a straight modern jazz style. It’s a melody overlay over the chords of Giant Steps, so now it seems we have Giant Steps changes to match Rhythm changes. Gest8 comprises Sandy Evans (tenor, sporano saxes), Paul Cutlan (saxes, bass clarinet), Phil Slater (trumpet), Satsuki Odamura (koto), Carl Dewhurst (guitar), Steve Elphick (bass), Simon Barker (drums), Greg White (computers), with compositions and shared leadership by Sandy and Tony Gorman. Interesting, often gentle, always fascinating, frequently experimental jazz.