22 May 2012

Words and not

It’s a trivial observation and perhaps an incorrect one, but it seems to me that there’s a real string of introspective trios out of Melbourne. The trio of Fran Swinn, Tamara Murphy and Joe Talia is one. I’m in Melbourne to visit some old mates, the Musketeers. Sadly too true to fiction, Peter can’t make it this weekend – here’s best to him – but Val, John and I are out on the town and it’s not all pizza and footy.

Fran, Tamara and Joe were presenting a tribute to Bill Frisell. Perhaps it’s the water of Sydney or the brilliant sun of winter Canberra (certainly not the chill) that brings out the more extroverted camp. I listen to BF recordings with some trepidation, but I can be taken by the style in person. Fran has that clear concern with sound as pure presence rather than mere harmonic invention, the effect of the distilled, the loops and electronica. Each note seems to take on individual life in this world. I don’t so much hear this approach in Tamara’s bass, although it fits. But bass is usually just pure, uneffected in any way, just responsive harmony and rhythm that outlines feels. So it is too with Joe’s drumming, gentle and responsive and purposeful, unaffected by rhythmic contortions. It fits, and maybe it’s Melbourne way. This time, I heard the trio with singer Jacqueline (Jacq) Gawler. During the gig (it was a gig and not a concert, after all) I had a lively discussion with my mate John about words defining thought, or thought being limited by words. There’s an ongoing philosophical issue here and my understanding is that jury’s out on the issue. But when you hear words as in singing - the clarity of shared understanding versus the pure emotional contact of instrumental music - it seems to me that we make community, we share understanding, with words, and we make emotional control without. So I like plays that become films and fear the power of the visual in films. So Jacq was interesting as she sang, sharing stories and thought. Once with a poem she had written as an ode to Bill Frisell with Fran’s loops in support. Another with a pop song, Shining love by Justin Vernon on Bon Iver (I must avail myself). And lastly, with a community singing exercise on the Kinks’ Summer afternoon. Maybe I’d had a few and mates getting together do sing, but this seemed a nicely social thing to do to finish the night. It’s an eminently attractive song with dark Kinksian social comment, but we can forget that for the community singing. Words are all I have? The discussion continues, but I must say I was moved by the searching emotional soundscapes of BF by Fran and her team.

Fran Swinn (guitar), Tamara Murphy (bass) and Joe Talia (drums) played a tribute to Bill Frisell at Melbourne’s Uptown Jazz Café and Jacqueline Gawler (vocals) joined them for several songs and a poem set to music.

1 comment:

ratso said...

I liked the drummer! Perhaps I am a misogynist?

My point about words defining throught (unlikely to have been well made due to illness, lack of sleep and alcohol) is that the use of words is able to convey some knowledge but never wisdom. There are often no accurate words for what we wish to say (or we don't know them), or the words are to varying extents ambiguous, or can be blurred by unintended or ambiguous non-verbals. Consequently our internal state is poorly translated into speech. Conversation is a series of approximations in the manner of differential calculus. Successive statements lead to a sort of understanding, but rarely to a feeling of sympatico. A relationship then is more like integral calculus, but our knowledge of others can often be challenged even after long acquaintance.

Douglas Adams once described a race which was given the curse of telepathy. This led to everyone needing to speak all the time to avoid broadcasting every thought they had to everyone else. Fairly close to my feelings about most verbalisations, though it doesn't help me keep wisely silent.