24 August 2012

Siders very live

The piano was good but the space was very live, reverberant, for Luke Sweeting’s trio called Front and Siders. The played at Canberra Grammar School, but this was in the monumental upstairs dining room with lots of timber and a stage and arched, stone-clad windows and vaulted roof. This is not the intimate, soft environment of the Gallery, but more traditional, colder, harder, even if the piano was better. So it was hard work for the band to perform their delicate, undemonstrative music, but it was nonetheless an impressive concert.

Musicians develop in the style they listen to. The open spaces and fine, delicate patterns and unassuming performance suggests Northern European jazz to my ears, so I wasn’t surprised that Geoff suggested they’d be hits if they toured there. Luke was fluid and inventive, as we expect these days, but he’s still not an overstated presence, leading through the slightest of glances. The others melded easily and with care, and were reserved and responsive. Brendan’s bass fitted neatly with ostinatos and syncopated comping and frequent lyrical solos and one swinging walk. Nick’s drums were heavy on cymbals and rolls and fills and a soft snare leaving tons of space in accompaniment, although the snare sometimes snapped louder and his solos were more clamourous. But the overall sound remained light, open, detailed, measured. The music was mostly originals by Luke. This was sophisticated music with complex structures and changing rhythms. I liked the left hand piano with unison bass in one tune and the complex take on the blues in Corporate genius. Pat Metheny got an outing and also Scott La Faro and Sam Rivers' lovely Beatrice as a moderate swing. To end, Matt Handel sat in on a tune from Luke's sextet album which will be launched at the Gods in coming weeks. The addition of sax made for a meatier tone and tune, but the detail and lightness remained in essence. The room was ringing but the playing was easy and considered. This was a capable and big-eared trio. Lovely gig.

Luke Sweeting (piano) led the Front and Siders trio with Brendan Clark (bass) and Nick Meredith (drums).

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