10 August 2012

Old and young guns, pt.1

The concert was entitled 21+75 because it marked the recent birthdays of each artist. Andy Butler was the junior; Bernie McGann the senior. If this expresses the quality of jazz in Australia as it has been and as it will be, I can only be proud. These were two seriously satisfying sets, and I was not the only one who left in thrall.

Andy led a big band (and for one tune, an octet) performing a series of charts that he’s developed with sponsorship and mentoring from Steve Newcomb under an Australia Council program. I know the band is brought together for this performance, so I was mightily impressed by how easily the band took to the charts. They weren’t easy, with odd times and syncopated conversational passages back and forth between parts. There may have been a touch of hesitation from the horns but nothing at all from Mark on drums. I particularly noticed his solo, which was solid, even magisterial. And a mix on a decent PA made all the difference. You always hear the snakey reeds and the blasting trumpets, but the tuba can be lost with its bell pointing to the ceiling. Tonight it was here and proud and speaking with its own voice. There were solos all round, of course, but the excitement here is in the tone and the orchestration and composition. The first tune was as yet unnamed and I heard it in 7/4 but perhaps with 4/4 passages. Poco was a highly syncopated unyielding pattern over 16 with a buzzing bee swarm as resolution. I missed the third tune’s title, but it was sleazy and slow and arranged for octet. The big band returned for Ode to Skype, if I remember correctly, in triple time. Andy later told me he communicates with Steve (and his girlfriend) over Skype. The final tune was Tightrope. There as a lively buzz in the foyer after Andy’s concert: for the pride in achievement as well as for the beer line. This gig was joyously received and Andy was talking of other gigs. But how to do this with such a large outfit? We can only hope.

Andy Butler (piano, composer) led big band comprising John Mackey, Niels Rosendahl, Matt Handel, Tom Fell (saxes), Miroslav Bukovsky, Alex Raupach, Ax Long, Scott Temby (trumpets), Rob Lee, Valdis Thomann, Patrick Langdon (trombones), Peter McGovern (tuba), Max Alduca (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums)

  • Cyberhalides Jazz Photos by Brian Stewart
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