19 June 2008

Great way to travel

We had London visitors last night at Hippo when Duncan Eagles and Max Luthert visited and played with some of our locals. London seems a mythical distant place at times and Duncan spoke with a lovely accent that reminds you of other places. But the language of jazz is universal, so it’s no surprise that the conversation on the night was capable and pleasing and the tunes mostly recognisable. Apparently, Duncan had met Bruce Hancock, head of jazz studies at Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium, when he was visiting London. Bruce invited Duncan to Australia and helped him find players for his visit to Adelaide although I’m not sure who they played with there. The travellers also visited Melbourne where they played with Ben Vanderwaal and heard local masters Sam Anning and Jamie Oehlers. Hereabouts, CJ helped them to find a double bass to borrow (thanks to Simon Daly at the Violin Shop) and players to perform with. They are off to Sydney next, not to play but to absorb the scene. The essence of good travel is to meet the locals, so jazz tourism like this is a great way to travel. They were enjoying it, and were talking of the next time.

The visitors teamed with Wayne Kelly and Sam Young on the night. They started with Softly as the morning sunrise, then Sam River’s Beatrice, so it was looking to be a comfortable evening. Duncan warmed up over the night to play with passion and a great fat tone on his black and gold tenor. Earlier on, he seemed more restrained, but later he turned to flurries and screams. He also picked up soprano for one or two tunes; these more melodic rather than extravagant exploits. Max was in the know, so set the stage for new tunes. He played a few solos, but concentrated on his support role of walking and other lines. Wayne started from the top with rich harmonies and constantly changing improvisations to glances of approval from the visitors. Sam played with comfort and reliability, but also with considerable authority. I especially noticed very clear statements in fours as they were passed around the band, but he was confident enough to leave space behind heads and elsewhere. Otherwise, it was ballads, bebop, bossa. Wayne looked very concentrated on a few tunes – perhaps originals or otherwise lesser known. Similarly, Sam was sometimes reading accents, but other times relaxed and just grooving. In all, it was a satisfying evening of mainstream/modern playing.

Londoners Duncan Eagles (tenor, soprano sax) and Max Luthert (bass) played with Wayne Kelly (piano) and Sam Young (drums).

  • Duncan Eagles'website
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