06 April 2009

Alter-ego Axel

I was confused hearing of this Axel with his black dude pic on Facebook, but Damien Foley was a name I knew and I enjoyed his set when all became clearer at ArtSound last Friday night. Damien played with old Jazz School mates who he studied with on these premises, when the Manuka Arts Centre (now ArtSounds studios) was the Jazz School. It’s remembered well by the people who attended, especially when they enter the same old rooms that are now pristine recording studios.

Damien has returned from time in the Army Band. I could hear this competence in his playing. He’s also an arranger/composer and spent his time in the Army band enjoying the opportunity to write big and concert band charts. It’s not an easy thing these days when even a small band is dearer to employ than a dreaded DJ. Damien played the session with Lachlan Coventry on bass and Chris Thwaite on drums. It’s a good solid outfit to play originals and standards like A child is born (dedicated to Chris’s recent new daughter, Rebecca), Body and soul and Stella. These are good old standards, but done in a loping guitar-based, chordal way, with long solos and considerable levels of funkiness. Quite a twist for tunes like Stella. There was also a Pat Metheny tune, and unxpectedly a vocal number, Grand Torino, the theme from the recent film of the same name. (I found the film good hearted but none too profound). Damien had quite a presentable voice, too, although it could perhaps do with a little more training. But he’s a guitarist at heart, and this was fairly straight style, but true to a chordal, tonal, earthy, semi-acoustic style.

You can hear Damien (rather than his alter-ego Axel) in his commercial band, Who’s your Daddy. No doubt it’s a professional outfit. As I understand, it features Damien’s arrangements and a hip-hop/funk cross. They are playing at Trinity in a few weeks. But the thing I will most easily remember from the night is Axel’s dedication to “the new Canberra prison”. Now that’s Axel speaking, I thought, and so it was. Damien Foley (guitar) broadcast live on ArtSound with Lachlan Coventry (electric bass in the shape of Texas) and Chris Thwaite (drums). And excuse the short report, but it’s been a busy time for jazz in Canberra.

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