14 May 2009

Miro’s mob

Miro gathered a band of students and staff from the jazz school last night for a Trinity gig. A nice blow session, with some lovely playing from experienced, challenging staff and some of the hottest of the current students. And nice, well known tunes from Wayne Shorter and Miles and the like from that most famous era, 50s post bop: well-known melodies and straightforward charts and lots of room for extravagance and dissonance. Nothing like some jazz-based performances which I missed at the CIMF (Canberra International Music Festival) in the last week: a conglomeration of national jazz players at the Street Theatre for “To the Moon and back again”, and a concert of Sculthorpe’s music performed in a jazz idiom. I caught some of the Moon performance on ABCFM. It was certainly adventurous. The performance was billed as a “film score in 10 chapters to accompany the NASA Apollo missions’ footage”. It might have worked more comfortably in person and with the visuals, but on radio I found it was formidable with nary an obvious melody in sight. Worthy, but a demanding listen. But back to Miro: melodic, well-known tunes, loose and open and a nice base for improv. I hardly need to speak of these players, as they appear so many times on this site. I was mostly chatting, but formed a few impressions. Miro has a lovely, rounded tone, and it was clear and flowing this night. John Mackey’s tenor was fluent and fast, but tuneful and expressive. He’s always like that. I wondered: is sax particularly suited to fast playing, due to fingering or tonguing? Certainly, the fingering is vastly different from brass valve control, and I don’t think it has the harmonic structure you play with brass instruments and that bell-like mouthpiece. Mark Sutton is sounding so solid and heavy these days with fusion-like snares. It’s masterful and reliable playing, and he’s so in control. Drummer Evan recently said to me that Chris Pound has “big ears”. Yeah, that explains it. Lovely, expressive, flowing playing that provides such a strong harmonic infrastructure, with this deadened bass tonality. He’s quick enough, but that’s not what you notice. It’s more the aptness of the playing, the interesting playing on inversions and scales, the moving rhythms and grooves. Andy Campbell’s playing with panache now, too. Long, complex phrases, and somewhat intellectual. So these were both worthy musical experiences, but so very different and an interesting contrast. But just another few busy musical days for Canberra. Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet) led a band with John Mackey (tenor sax), Andy Campbell (guitar), Chris Pound (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums) at the Trinity Bar, Dickson. “To the Moon and back again” was a performance for the CIMF at the Street Theatre and was broadcast live on ABCFM. Bill Risby (piano) wrote the music, and performers were Timothy Constable (percussion, vocals), Michael Askill (percussion), Phil Slater (trumpet), Matt McMahon (piano), Simon Barker (drums), Steve Elphick (bass), Carl Dewhurst (guitar), William Barton (didgeridoo, guitar), Chris Latham (violin) and Bob Scott (sound design, electronic processing).

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