1 February 2014

Not the nine-o'clock news

It's an eclectic scene at Smith's. Thursday night is jazz night but even that's indeterminate or a malleable definition. Mixes in musics is a good and (post-) modern thing and musical styles all have common elements anyway, but you can strike the unexpected. This night was that way. Two acts: Carl Morgan / Matilda Abraham and Kerbside Collection.

Firstly Matilda and Carl. They visited from Sydney. Both are well known and respected locally but it seems the audience was more family than the jazz crowd. That's nice. I like these family events. (I discovered that even I had a distant family-ish connection). So this was personal, less performed, more intimate. The music was a duo format with sequencing. More JJJ than DigJazz, but informed by their jazz training, so clever, rich and complex. No hot solos from Carl in this incarnation. He mostly played chordal accompaniment to synth basses and washes and organ tones. There was little percussion here. It was only later in the set I realised there were no drums, and I wondered if I'd heard any earlier. (Listening back to the recordings, 2 of 7 had distinct percussion/drum lines). So this was floating music with occasional choppy grooves. Matilda sang Bjork and Lewis Cole and but mostly her own songs with themes like the excitement of new love, physical entropy and life metaphors and female companionships, so worthy of a listen. These meaningful, if electronically presented, messages remind me of '60 folk authenticity and recent singer-songwriter indie artists, but with that much modernised underlying sound. I particularly liked Matilda's voice on a more poppy tune where she sang firmer and stronger, but the night was mostly less emphatic tones. A fascinating duo set indicating an alternative indie path for this pair. Looking forward to my sons discovering them on JJJ.

The family cleared out, the people of the street and the chatter arrived, Kerbside Collection took to stage. KC were a guitar trio (they seem to also play with organ as a quartet) from Brisbane with some jazz background. I only managed the first set, so I missed their funkier incarnation. This jazz set was touched by tradition. The repertoire was there - Summertime, Blues for Alice, Coltrane's Impressions - but this music was very reformulated in their style. That's good. I heard arrangement, solid and unrelenting bass (apparently with an authentic 1963 Hofner Beatles bass), steady and authoritative drums, and guitar and solos. I heard rimshots on 1-3 and rock and funk feels and a touch of Afro influence. Essentially this was a rock-funk guitar trio with danceable, reliable steadiness. Entertaining, tight, ordered and with solos but without the all-in improvised complexity of the jazz world.

Matilda Abraham (voice, sequencing) and Carl Morgan (guitar, sequencing) played the first set and Kerbside Collection played the next two sets at Smiths.

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