19 April 2014


Simon Milman has hands in many pots. And it's not just that he's part of them. Someone mentioned to me at Simon's farewell event at Smith's that he will be missed, not just for his playing, but for his leadership. Simon's active; he creates things - music, combinations, events, lots of CDs - and these things range over a broad field. I've mostly caught him doing jazz things, in the jazz scene, but he's active with the Canberra Musicians Club, which is more indie and JJJ, in Afrobeat and Latin and more. I first caught him playing Ornette on acoustic bass guitar in a trio. His playing is well influenced by these sounds, so his standards take on a sophisticated, harmonically indistinct flavour. But he also plays I-V in its place, and there was a bit of apt simplicity in his playing with Nick Combe's Nonet at the farewell event. There was some of the free improv too, in a short appearance as Erebis ("Australia's number one [Japanese] free improvising Elvis"). He introduced Properties of two particles with a bowed first particle lasting 1m8s and a pizz second particle lasting 47s; micro, virtually subatomic. I missed a gig where Erebis performed macro, apparently playing an hour with Miro Bukovsky. FWIW, I preferred the second particle with some harmonic movement, but mainly diatonic with large intervals. Nice. Erebis was followed by obviously close friend Alice Cottee, voice and guitar on some interestingly constructed songs of passion and intriguingly revealing metaphors. She spoke of meetings of creatives and this fitted the part: both fascinating and, I can only guess, searingly honest. It's so often the woman with the guitar who does just this for personal matters. Then some jazz that's close to my heart: Nick Combe's nonet playing five of Nick's charts. Bluesy and Mingus-inspired; five horns out front for plenty of interesting solos and the interplay of solo and accompaniment and the enhanced richness of melodic statements. Quite blissful to my ears. They played a slower break-up song; a lighter 8-to-the-bar song of joy and running in parks; one of rolling arpeggios speaking to a poem by TS Elliot; a quieter one called Shoosh (perhaps Shh...); a final upstart blues stated last time around with charted dissonance. The solos were intelligent and searching throughout which is also a tribute to Nick's charts. Then another SM alter-ego: Coolio Desgracias appearing with Housemouse. Local rap in kimono: driving in Queanbeyan, jazz clap, local themes. Amusing, clever, rhythmically insinuating and neat with triplets, although this seemed a pretty casual performance for friends with a degree of laxity. Rap's somewhat a return to memorised epics, so it has unexpected traditional roots amongst its irony and quips. Much enjoyed. I didn't stay for the later DJ set. Simon will be much missed by wide span of the Canberra musical community but movement is life. Best of luck to Simon but he's a local, so he'll be seen again.

Simon Milman performed Erebis (bass). Alice Cottee performed solo (vocal, guitar). Nick Combe (baritone sax, compositions) led a nonet with Tom Fell (tenor), Josh Hart (trombone), Alex Raupach (trumpet), Eddie Bernasconi (trumpet), Matt Lustri (guitar), Damien Slingsby (piano), Simon Milman (bass) and Aidan Lowe (drums). Simon Milman (Coolio Desgracias) and Matt Lustri (Housemouse) rapped.

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