07 June 2008

Old friends

It’s getting so that Miro’s and John’s bands are becoming like old friends or family. You recognise the tunes and the performance styles are established. When they play with different people or arrangements, you can listen for the interpretations that change, and that’s a real fascination. It’s leaning to classical music, where all the notes are written, so the interpretation is even more subtle. In the case of jazz, the melody and groove will be set, but even they are twisted in interpretation on the night, and the improvisations are much more varied.

Miro’s quintet played the other night at the Band Room at the Jazz School. It’s a nice location: quiet, interested, a listening audience, lots of like-minded attendees, and you can get a beer in the breaks. Miro, of course, was leading and provided several of the tunes, mostly well known ones from the Wanderlust songbook. John also provided several tunes which I recognised from his CD, Pantano Drive. But what especially interested me were the different approaches and tonalities and interpretations of this band as against, say, Wanderlust. Wayne was far more Tyner-ish than is Alister Spence. Mark was less latin than Fabian Hevia. Not better or worse but quite different. And the sound of woodwind in place of brass as a second instrument was also a change from Wanderlust. So the tunes are the same, but the experience is different. For covers, they performed Joe Henderson’s Afrocentric and Zawinul’s Directions (apparently claimed by Miles, as was Bill Evans’ Blue in Green). Miro also led a wonderful ballad called “Peace please”: quite beautiful, and dedicated this night as a “hymn for our time”.

To note was an alto solo by John. I don’t remember hearing him on alto before. Chris continues to impress, including with that walk on Pantano Drive at breakneck speed, and some modern, syncopated bass lines on other tunes. I also noted some powerful montuno playing by Wayne that just grabbed the band and drove it. It’s not something I’d noticed in his playing before. And there’s news about Wayne: he’s off to Macao to play the casinos in a few weeks. Good pay, good conditions. We’ll miss his playing around town, but should be a great opportunity. Best of luck from CJ.

It was a terrific night, with the infectious melodies we know from Miro, and great playing in a style more than usually reminiscent of that heady period of the early 60s. At least for the next few weeks, the Miroslav Bukovsky Ensemble comprises: Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet), John Mackey (tenor, alto sax), Wayne Kelly (piano), Chris Pound (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums).

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