31 December 2008

Getting around

It’s another Christmas, and another time for visiting family in Adelaide. That side of things is lovely and much enjoyed. But I also try to manage a little time for CJ and this year it was very easy. We were staying at Glenelg and the Bill Parton Trio was playing at the local Salt Bar and Restaurant on the Sunday afternoon. Salt has jazz each Sunday afternoon, and I’m happy to announce it to this blog. Bill seems to be a busy bloke from what I’ve read on www.jazz.adelaide.onau.net. At least, he plays an eminently sellable set and performs it with panache. He leads a piano trio as pianist and vocalist. The tunes are common enough. I caught one set made up of the absolute standard mainstream repertoire: Fly me to the Moon, Don’t get around much anymore (think exhortatory vocals), All the things you are (interesting lyrics which we don’t hear too often), I can’t give you anything but love, the Nearness of you (a ballad and quite a change from the earlier swingers), Bye bye blackbird (bye bye), and a new set starting with a tune a mate always calls Girl with Emphysema.

This was nice, popular, well-known, mainstream jazz. Solidly played, with plenty of fretless bass solos and occasional swapped fours on drums. Good, solid, satisfying swing, with simple and steady accompaniment. The piano solos were full and rich and commonly chordal. The bass solos were frequent and reminiscent of double bass (perhaps being fretless), although he mostly fingered with pinkie like an electric player. There were regular switches from ballad to swing, or latin to swing. In fact, swing was the key factor here. And a sultry voice, often held behind the beat, occasionally reminding me of our Vince Jones. This was comfy jazz, well received and perfectly presentable and sellable. This is a business so I certainly don’t say this to be demeaning.

Bill Parton played piano, and once switched to organ tones. Jeremy Martin played fretless five string bass, and Joel Prime played drums. Bill has been playing publicly for seven years, and Jeremy and Joel have been sitting in with Bill for the last two years. Jeremy and Joel are recent graduates of the jazz course at the Adelaide Conservatorium. The unit was tight and responsive and nicely presented and perfectly professional. Well done.

I also met a local pianist of another generation, Bill Messner, who sometimes relieves for Bill P. Interestingly, he has played with our own Pierre Kammacher. Small world. And discussion with the band turned to the number of players who’d left Adelaide for Melbourne. Small world; doubly so.

All this was happening while Adelaide’s most important annual athletics event, the Bay Sheffield, was being run on the adjacent green. I’ve included a pic of that, too. It’s quite a tradition, having been run for 122 years as a handicap race over 130 yards (now 120 metres), and a significant post-Christmas event in my old home town.

No comments: