23 November 2008

To end the academic year

It was the end of recitals for the year, and there was a good humour and a buzz in the studio when Fourth Degree Byrnes played for ArtSound on Friday night. There were nerves (to be expected at a live studio broadcast) and some seriousness, too, but the mood was pretty light otherwise. Neveen Byrnes led a team of fellow final year students for an end-of-week outing.

They played several originals by Neveen, Lost and found, Ignorance is bliss and one that was not named, one original by Andy Campbell, Milk (amusingly followed on the night by that well known Stanley Turrentine swinger, Sugar), as well as several standards: Jobim’s Triste, Invitation, Wayne Shorter’s Juju, and interestingly, a funky, bass-heavy Miles Davis/Marcus Miller tune from the Amandala album, Hannibal. This was home for Stu, the bassist, who I’ve mostly seen slapping and popping with the Commercials. He’s an excellent slapper, and perfectly capable in this more traditional environment, but I’d guess fingerstyle isn’t his first love.

This got me thinking of musical personalities. Our musical personalities are formed from what we hear, what we learn, as well as being an expression of our broader personalities. Musical and general personalities may seem to others to be in opposition or in harmony, although I expect they will always be related somehow. Excuse the amateur musical psychology, but I saw Neveen’s musical presence as more reticent and steely, somewhat introspective, and quite a contrast from the buoyant, perhaps jubilant and overflowing style of Andy’s guitar. These were different takes on the music (both valid but clearly different), and I could hear the changes as the solos passed from one to another. Stu was more restrained in this context than his slappy, funky self (I noticed real concentration on his face during Invitation) and Hugh displayed quite an quietly outspoken style when he broke into blatant tom rolls and fills that featured richly in some solos.

It was an entertaining and artful show and a fitting end to the musical year. You have a chance to catch the band again this coming Tues at 9pm in the Trinity Bar, Dickson. The Trinity Tuesday scene sounds great (I haven’t got there yet during this incarnation). Do yourself a favour and go down for the free night and discount drinks.

Fourth Degree Byrnes is led by Neveen Byrnes (tenor sax) with Andy Campbell (guitar), Stu McKnown (bass) and Hugh Deacon (drums).

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