3 November 2011

Chalk and cheese

It’s chalk and cheese but I love it all. Last night was the Andrew Robson Trio playing with Sandy Evans. Andrew at one stage talked of Ornette Coleman’s influence on his playing and having heard and met him in Sydney. Ornette is not pre-bop, so you can imagine how far this concert was from my last report. The band also played a series of originals from Andrew and a blues by Coltrane. I particularly noticed the ease and beauty of the harmony lines from the horns when they appeared although they weren’t frequent. Otherwise this was a night of Andrew’s angular melodies and great solos against a syncopated and responsive rhythm section.

Andrew’s solos struck me as oblique, intellectual affairs of long intervals, uncommon scales, changing harmonies and truncated notes, but he surprised me with occasional smoother scalar runs. Sandy was more legato in her lines, more smooth and rounded and deeper in pitch and tone from her lower pitched sax but also from her musical conception. The rhythm section was modern syncopated and wonderfully strong in presence and responsiveness. Steve played one fast walk, but mostly the beat was divided, playing once on 1-2 or syncopating freely over the bar or playing obligato lines or even devolving into free along with the rest of the band on a dedication to Ornette. Toby was just sitting in but did an admirable job, eyes on charts and responding quickly to snippets of melody or to a line of solo. There was an easy enjoyment on stage for their annual visit to the Gods. Andrew is a local, having studied at the Jazz School, so was happy to have family in attendance, but the whole band was good-willed and chuckled frequently. Mostly, the tunes were originals by Andrew. There were a few dedications. That one to Ornette was called Texas Ranger and was clearly in his style, a bluesy open melody that dissolved into a passage of free jazz. Another dedication was to Don Johnson, now deceased but head of the Jazz School when Andrew was studying. The Coltrane blues was Locomotion. Otherwise there were some urgent moderns, Combover was a early bop-style, Silk Road was mysterious and floating, there was a ballad with a bass solo that was precisely pitched and rich with double stops, Children in the aisles was a reference to a catholics gig in Paddington.

It was a demanding but also satisfying gig. I wondered if Andrew’s family frequently attended jazz gigs, because it was complex, but it was also clean and professional and wonderfully played and quite insinuating. Andrew Robson (alto) led a band with Sandy Evans (tenor), Steve Elphick (bass) and Toby Hall (drums) at the Gods.

  • Cyberhalides Jazz Photos by Brian Stewart
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