03 October 2008

Teen spirit

It was a quiet night at Folkus and not too well attended, but the music was mostly original and the playing capable and interesting all round. James Annesley was visiting Canberra on tour from Melbourne and he was supported by a local student band led by Andy Campbell.

Firstly Andy. I hadn’t heard his band before, but I knew they’d been performing recently. The music turned out to be all original material penned by Andy himself. Sometimes meditative, often restrained; mostly straight eight feels although there was a rapid walk in there which was more boisterous; deliberate and dynamic rhythm playing by Hugh on drums and Chris on bass, constantly responsive to long melodic and solo lines. Again, we hear current students playing interesting, complex, original tunes: it bodes well. Andy Campbell (guitar) played with Austin Benjamin (piano), Chris Pound (bass) and Hugh Deacon (drums).

The James Annesley Quartet was the feature band on tour from Melbourne. From the top, they were louder than Andy’s band, and more confident with a brasher style of music and some terrific playing. Again, the tunes were mainly original, other than the Marcus Miller/Miles Davis Tutu, and the last tune of the set, the one they didn’t introduce, Nirvana’s Smells like teen spirit. Teen spirit has a strongly insinuating melody line that just clicks in the jazz idiom, and they did it justice. James played tenor and soprano saxes, but was more commonly on soprano. His playing was clear and incisive and fluent throughout. Hugh Stuckey was also a blast. He reached the finals of the National Jazz Awards for guitar at the last Wangaratta Festival, so it was not unexpected. He was fluent, subtle, elusive. It was fast playing with a lush background echo, so modern sounding. Rapid lines often merged with chords; generously spaced; open and searching for a response to the surroundings; resting between passages with a flourish of his left hand. Tom Lee played a strong and regular line on bass. He moved with his bass lines: more than anyone else I remember seeing. It’s interesting to see how musos respond to what they hear: variously cool and unmoving or mobile and expressive. Hugh Harvey combined with Tom for the steady, go-ahead bedrock rhythm, and played some nice solos of his own. I doubt my description does them justice. I thoroughly enjoyed the confident, capable performance in a modern post-bop style. There’s still a chance to catch them at the Gods next Tuesday. Well worth the outing. James Annesley (tenor, soprano sax) played with Hugh Stuckey (guitar), Tom Lee (bass) and Hugh Harvey (drums).

And remember to support music like this! Folkus is increasingly providing the venue for comfortable, intelligent, listening jazz. Use it or lose it.

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