18 April 2009

Taking a ride home

I usually hear the Rafael Jerjen Trio as a melodic and technically understated band, not ignoring skills but solidly interested in the musicality. So it was a surprise to hear their broadcast start with a cacophony, but that soon settled into a more modal-sounding walk with an attractive sax line over the top, so I was back where I expected to be. Niels was settling into one of his effective and technically restrained solos – clear in purpose, well developed and true to the tune. Luke followed with a little more rabid interpretation, but still within bounds, then Raf’s bass solo, blues-infused and fairly laid-back. The whole was purposeful and true to the form.

Raf writes most of the tunes for this band, and you can often hear the bass in these conceptions. The second tune was clear in this respect, a call and response melody sitting over a repeating syncopated bass figure which moved up in pitch for a B-section. The third tune was a piano trio setting of a Paul Grabowski arrangement of Julia by the Beatles. I show my age, but I didn’t find the arrangement too satisfying, given the simplicity and purity of the original, but it was interesting and experimental breaks with the past are necessary even if not always successful. The band returned for a second set with another solid post-bop walker with Luke in full swing, and then a few differing styles to finish. For Leo was a Rafael original written for a classical guitarist mate. It featured a bowed bass and lento rhythm with a meditative melody, leaving space for plaintive tenor from Niels. Twice in a lifetime was a funky blues with some lovely edgy piano from Luke, a solid solo into thumb positions from Raf and a short cross-time solo from Aidan. To end, Raf played a new solo bass composition, Tamryn. It was another restrained tune, chord-rich with a rising chromatic theme. I did like this.

Cacophony to dedicated bass solo is quite a ride. This one ultimately ended in a modern-mainstream mostly post-bop style outing, although with some personal twists. And it’s these personal twists that make for another voice in jazz in Canberra.

Rafael Jerjen (electric, acoustic bass) led a quartet with Niels Rosendahl (tenor), Luke Sweeting (piano) and Aidan Lowe (drums) at ArtSound.

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