5 April 2013

Occasional muster


It’s been infrequent, recently, this meeting of old friends. The ANU Faculty staged a reunion for Geoff Page’s Jazz at the Gods series. It wasn’t all of the faculty, but most of the core group. I haven’t heard John for a while. He and other remaining staff are madly busy with restructuring the music school. I can only wish them all well. The blurb suggests there’s a new and exciting approach on offer and all praise if that occurs. I can only see it as a hard road, but we’ll see over coming years. In the meantime, the effects on Canberra culture are clear to see.
But back to the concert. I’ve heard Miro more recently, up close, and written of that. James G was down from Sydney, making a memorable entry after being held up in Sydney traffic: the peripatetic jazz life. Plus Mike on his crisp, unsullied guitar. And James L and Mark, two of the busiest players around. I needn’t write much about these people or these tunes. I’ve heard and written of them many times here. Geoff Page mentioned this group was the core of the jazz renaissance over the last decade or so in Canberra. It’s deeply threatened now, of course, but maybe that’s how jazz is these days. How often to we hear that jazz is dead? It’s Easter so you think resurrection. Jazz seem to be continually resurrecting. Or another way to put it may be that real art never dies. There are always aficionados and steadfasts and tragics. This was heavy breathing on the stage even if the oxygen’s thin on Canberra’s jazz peaks these days.

BTW, the tunes were Footprints, Invitation, Alone together and You don’t know what love is (set 1), and Tenor madness, Body & soul, All the things you are, On Green Dolphin Street and Solar (set 2). All mid-century blowing standards. I was touched by Miro’s head on Body & soul and John’s sparse solo. It’s easy to forget amongst the fireworks that John can be so lyrical. I bopped with Mike’s Alone together, and thrilled with James G’s playful and pitch perfect solos. We all admired James L’s bowed solo on You don’t know what love is and some lively and lengthy solos, especially in the second set, and I was mightily impressed as I closely watched Mark’s strong but delicate stick play on Tenor madness. The opportunity to hear these guys is getting less frequent. Take it while you can. These were old friends, both tunes and players, but goodies.

The ANU Faculty Reunion featured John Mackey (tenor), James Greening (trombone), Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet, flugelhorn), Mike Price (guitar), James Luke (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums).

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