17 August 2012

This time, Coen Brothers

After the Joe Chindamo concert, Robyn praised the variety of programming at the Capital Jazz Project. Just what I’d been thinking. This time it was Joe and band with strings playing music that was visual, appealing, filmic. The concert was taken from his CD, Another place some other time, which is a reworking of film themes of the Coen Brothers. Now this was good, because I inveigled on Megan to come and she likes film music. It was particularly lucky becuase this was not what I’d expected. Joe had played jazz trios in his workshop. I knew the lineup was bigger, even with strings, but the bluegrass and storytelling of the musical structures surprised me on the night, but pleasantly. This was charming and even engrossing and there was some impressive playing; just not what I’d expected or promised. It was perhaps better. Certainly Megan volunteered how much she’d enjoyed it. Success!

The concert started with the themes from No country for old men and Man of constant sorrows. I live in a film vacuum: I’m told these are both from the Coen Brothers. Then a bluegrass from Henry Mancini (!) and Raising Arizona, another CB theme, and the Adagio from Spartacus by Khachaturian. This was also unexpected but it worked and it’s a memorable theme fitting in this company. Megan recognised this one. Then adding the sublime or the rediculous (you choose), Hotel California, another film theme and You are my sunshine. Then another film theme and an encore on solo piano. Unexpected? You bet. Sentiment, heart on shoulder, daring to breaking (jazz) conventions? Yes, all that. Like Paul Capsis, the glam cabaret singer who introduced the CJP with the support of the Alister Spence Trio, this was a challenge to our categories and our habituated ears. Good! But the jazz and chops were there, too. It’s good to see Philip Rex again with his busy, powerful playing and his rugged touch. And I enjoyed both violins, Zoe Black for her romantic melodies and Nigel McLean for his catholicity and chops covering bluegrass to the classics. Ronny and Alex provided layers of rhythms and Joe played with impressive breadth of improvisation and flamboyant flourishes, and even dropped into accordion, his first instrument, for a touching take on You are my sunshine. But, for all the arrangements and capable performance, I think my jazz ears most liked Joe’s solo piano encore that reprised Sunshine and some other melodies from the night. This was a confident and professional outing and I like that it was eminently attractive. It’s a change from music for afficionadoes and tiny audiences. Perhaps it was nonchalant and a bit distant but you have to love someone who will front a band with two violinists and play You are my sunshine at a jazz festival and carry it off with sentiment but without sentimentality.

Joe Chindamo (piano) led a band comprising Nigel MacLean (violin), Zoe Black (violin), Alex Pertout (percussion), Philip Rex (bass) and Ronny Ferella (drums)

  • Cyberhalides Jazz Photos by Brian Stewart
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