8 November 2008

Utopia redux

The Utopia Collective broadcast from ArtSound for last night’s Friday Night Live. Greg Stott and John Mackey have been expanding the old Greg Stott Band theme to be a looser collection of musos playing music by all members, so the Collective theme. It’s exciting and perhaps a little utopian, but always interesting with varying repertoire and players and interpretations and presumably also leadership for the different tunes.

This performance had Greg and John with Mark Sutton and James Luke. They are all players we see together in various settings, and who are all well known to each other, so it was comfortable. And the sound of this version of the band was very different: because it was in a studio with no audible audience, and because it was a different lineup. James seemed more mellifluous, less funky, more experimental, than Jason Varlet, their normal bassist. No comment on quality here; they are both very capable players, but they are different. So the style seemed more free-flowing, less defined; plenty of go-ahead energy, but less funk/rock power. And there was no keyboard, so the harmonic structure was more open. But that’s why the collective style is so interesting: different incarnations are different. In the studio it was obvious, as they passed solos around, that there was a good deal of looseness. We got powerful, racy solos as always from these guys. James won the prize for effects on the night with something outrageously audacious that sounded like a superior autowah crossed with octave pedal (Octavius Squeezer). The tunes were many that I recognised from earlier outings of this band, by Greg and by John. Strong and attractive and catholic in taste.

And congratulations are due to Chris Deacon and Lauren Black for ArtSound’s Friday Night Live. Apparently they are finalists in the National Programming Awards, with nominations in two categories: Excellence in Music Programming and Best Contribution to Local Music. The winners will be announced in a week or so at the National Conference of the Community Broadcasting Association. (Surprisingly, there are ~360 members in this association, presumably Australian. Community broadcasting is obviously much bigger sector than I’d expected. But then nothing really surprisies me about these guys after I learnt they have their own satellite!) It’s great work that Chis and Lauren do; winner or not. Many thanks and congratulations to our mates at ArtSound from CJ.

Just a short note to record a very satisfying broadcast. At least at this performance, the Utopia Collective comprised Greg Stott (guitar), John Mackey (tenor sax), James Luke (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums).
  • Octavius Squeezer
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