19 June 2011

Crossing over (DHJF-7)

Jazz players don’t make their cash with swing these days: they have to play all sorts. And there are some great melodies in pop and great grooves in funk, so it can be great fun.

Eon Beats are a big acid jazz cum R&B cum funk outfit playing 16th-note syncopation with trance-like regularity, great solos from traditional instruments, but also choppy guitars and synth patches and spunky vocals. How can you not like funk? This is 70s US black pop tradition writ large. Rick Robinson leads the band. I’ve heard them once before as a funky outfit, and first in a very interesting bass-less incarnation with sax, drums, keys and turntables. And of course, RR led D.I.G. which was such a popular funky outfit around the ‘90s. Too loud, even in the open, but what a groove! Eon Beats were Rick Robertson (sax), Evelyn Duprai (vocals), Lily Dior (vocals), Ian Mussington (drums), Gerard Masters (keyboards), Alex Hewetson (bass), Phil Slater (trumpet), also guitar, trombone and percussion.

Gerard Masters also appeared in his pop-jazz-rock incarnation. It’s a standard rock lineup (keys/vocals, guitar, electric bass, drums; tenor sax sat in later). It’s strange to see jazz pianist as front line singer but the pop is better for it. This was jazz in rock guise, rock with a jazz complexion, Triple-J material. Gerard Masters (vocals, keys), Jonathan Zwartz (bass) and guitar and drums and Rick Robinson (tenor) sat in.

Acca Daiquiris were advertised as a loungish outfit. I’m doing a similar thing with Cognac Lounge so I was interested. This was more rock sounding and less trancy than us, given bass guitar and some pretty insistent playing, but the jazz piano was still there. Tunes were also more rock than funk (Long way to the top, Cocaine and White wedding). Entertaining. AD are Nick Norton (vocals, percussion), Tim Bruer (keys), Geoff Rosenberg (bass) and Antero Ceschin (drums).

James Valentine Quartet played more in the jazz tradition, so I hesitate to list it here, but he was playing a modern rock-pop repertoire. This was pretty easy going jazz, despite some powerful songs: Tom Waits, Throw your arms around me, silverchair’s Tomorrow, Midnight Oil’s Power and the passion. This was the lounge approach of taming the vicious beast. I didn’t catch his offsiders’ names.

Finally, I caught Shivon Coelho (vocals) and Joel Jenkins (piano) performing for an open mic competition. Their song was impressively original with a Joni Mitchell-style levity and a light high voice. Nice one.

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