23 October 2013


It’s October so it must be Moruya. I missed the Moruya Jazz festival for the last few years. This year I was playing with our quartet, Jazz Republic, and JR was supporting Wollongong diva Pearl Noire. I didn’t catch much else. The streets looked pretty quiet. What I did catch was interesting.

The ANU Big Band was impressive: no surprise there. John Mackey leads. This is a large ensemble with generous membership and includes a female choir out front. John mentioned the choir as a luxury. So it is. It’s an unusual big band sound to have half a dozen harmonising females out front. As for the band, the grooves are good and the horns tight. As at Merimbula, there was a touch of classics with six-string bassist Jack Schwenke doing a take on Bach’s Cello suite in G.

Rehab Brass Band were a missing their sax player but were still lively, sharp and entertaining. There were some decent chops here: nice rock guitar solos when called for and crisp tele chords otherwise; solid drum parts and some authentic bass lines from the sousaphone (sousa provides such a fat bass and this was played with impressive skills and a real feeling for the groove: more than just I-V); good trumpet and trombone solos and melodies; some vocals. They played occasional pop, including Eurythmics, but this was mainly a down south sensibility. How can you not chuckle to the succulent humour of Don’t you feel my thigh? Rehab BB are Dave Thompson (trumpet, vocals), Jeremy Borthwick (trombone), James Wyatt (guitar), Leigh Sherringham (sousaphone) and Dave Tracey (drums). Dave Cox (tenor) was missing in action.

Pierre was playing with with his Dream Banned for some attractive mainstream. I was particularly taken by Pierre’s smooth tone and neat solos. BTW, he plays only Selmer. Pierre’s Dream Banned were Pierre Kammacher (saxes), Sid Edwards (vibes), Roer Clark (alto), Adrian Rodden (guitar), Arthur Pikler (bass) and John Marshall (drums).

End of night was the Mackey-Bukovsky project at the Air Raid Café. This was essentially a blow session with students sitting in and out and milling around. It was as much a party as a performance. No surprise that there were some impressive solos here, not unexpectedly from John and Miro or Tate, but I also heard a few from bassist Mitchell Brandman and trumpeter Eddie Bernasconi and a nice interpretation from singer Kirrah Amosa.

Another headliner was the New Zealand band Miho Wada Jazz Orchestra which is fronted by the zany and personable Japanese alto/flautist Miha Wada with Pascal Roggen on e-violin. Thus the JO tag. Otherwise, I found them a jazz rock outfit with established rock rhythms rather than jazz swing. Not your standard jazz fare, but nicely presented, practised and tight. Miho Wada JO were Miho Wada (flute, alto), Pascal Roggen (e-violin), Andrew Rudolph (guitar), Leo Corso (e-bass) and Jared Descaux de Marigny (drums).

We caught DJ Gosper’s latest project, a very bluesy trio called Divine Devilles with drummer husband Michael Stratford and pianist/singer Ali Penny. Nice to hear DJ with accompanying female harmonies and vice versa and with the deep bluesy presence. Back to the roots with a swatch of 12-bar swing. Divine Devilles are DJ Gosper (vocals, blues harp), Ali Penny (keys, vocals) and Michael Stratford (drums).

Jazz Republic played one instrumental set and two sets backing diva Pearl Noire. Ax Long sat in on trumpet for a horn-rich front line and this was a great pleasure. There was some impressive reading from both Ax and Richard on Mike’s dot-rich neo-bop originals and sweet harmonies and plenty of joyful solos up front. One gig had Mike charting lines for the horns literally in the last minutes before the gig. Mike took musical director duties for Pearl and the pair are a formidable combination. Pearl is an entertainment powerhouse. This is a case of set the stage and sit back for the ride. She’s a fabulous presence with immediate audience rapport and plenty of sultry, earthy banter. Always a pleasure to play with Pearl. The Pearl Noire Experience was Pearl Noire (vocals) with the Jazz Republic. The citizens of the Jazz Republic were Mike Dooley (piano), Richard Manderson (saxes), Ax Long (trumpet), Eric Pozza (bass) and Brenton Holmes (drums).

Apart from lengthy chats and walks on the beach and the smoke of bushfires, that was my Moruya 2013.

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