1 March 2014

Difference that blends

Luke keeps returning with great bands. The Antipodes Quintet was the latest, at Smiths, this last week. It seems to have its genesis in Berlin, amongst the Australian jazz community there. The compositions are by Luke with perhaps a few from Jake. Aidan and Jake spent some time in Berlin and Luke visited while playing there and around in Europe and Scandinavia. Thus Antipodes was presumably on their common minds. It's a great blowing band with dense heads, occasional free and floating segments, room for solos and some great grooves. Luke's solos were always satisfying. I was fascinated how well the two horns worked together, although from very different influences. Ken was stunning with restrained legato and lyricism, blowing impressive bop-like lines, then turning all breathy and mystical. He'd mentioned before the gig how he clears his mind and just plays. It takes talent and practice to be able to do that successfully and he's obviously done his part. This was stunningly effective trumpet. Jake was more the iconoclast with truncated, detached notes, obtuse octaves contrasting with dense lines in response, more quizzical and ironic and intellectual than heart-on -shoulder emotional. These are very different players but they merged surprisingly well with harmonies both consonant and not and almost contrapuntal movements at times. Aidan was rich and full and driving, but also deep when he took a feature solo later in the night. James was sweetly toned, occasionally bowed, open and welcoming in presence and support for his colleagues.He blew a great fast bop earily on in warmup, but this was more fast unison heads and open playing against a few chords for the blows. Inventive and sympathetic and supportive. And Luke, of course, always great solos and smiling repartee, welcome support and a growing set of compositions with space to solo and various times and contorted, lightly dissonant heads. Great stuff, again.

The Antipodes Quintet comprised Luke Sweeting (piano), Jake Baxendale (alto sax), Ken Allars (trumpet), James Heazlewood-Dale (bass) and Aidan Lowe (drums).

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