3 May 2013
What backbeat is
They were on the way to the Thredbo Jazz Festival, but they weren’t jazz. Nowhere near. Not blues either, which is what I expect at the Press Club on Thursdays. This was Jeff Duff with Glenn Rhodes and Ben Isaacson and they were a blast. This is rock: heavy backbeat, basic rhythms and simple chords, playing a list from the Rock Top 50. I caught one set: Does anybody really know what time it is, Mr Bojangles, Walk on the wild side (funky), Walking in Memphis, What’s going on, Sorrow. Fabulous. I was enthralled by Ben on drums. Steady with rock solid time, firm sticks, insistent snare and light cymbals and solid mixed with flirting kick; otherwise unembroidered and laid back except for the most delicious of fills ending lines. Glenn was a complex, multifaceted master as keys-players can be, but I missed the oomph of an acoustic instrument. He played three keyboards: two plus one for left hand bass. This was colour and orchestration, solos with all manner of tones beyond piano. Again, steady, firm, knowing and, with his history, I presume the well-rehearsed arrangements were his. And with a decent vocal, for backing, but also for sharing verses on Mr Bojangles. And, out front, Jeff Duff, the lank, waif-like, suited presence of glam rock from the ’70s, through to the Bowie, Deep Purple and Sinatra presence of shows today. He sings with a Soulful voice, oozing vibrato, reaching into falsetto, spelling songs with a performer’s presence but also an interpreter’s sympathy. This was not at all jazz, of course, but that’s not what I expected. This was masterful, mature rock from some of the best, in the lounge-like venue of the National Press Club. Loud but mature and experienced and a glimpse of what rock can be.
Jeff Duff (vocals, percussion) performed with Glenn Rhodes (keys, vocals) and Ben Isaacson (drums) at the National Press Club. Fabulous.