04 June 2014

Luke's back

Luke visits often. It's wonderful that he does. He's a wonderful product of this town, and he's now ensconced in the Sydney scene, so we get a touch of that whenever he's in town. He's prolific, too. He's involved in a range of projects playing a range of compositions. He writes lots. The tunes seem diverse in the different bands. This was his sextet. The last incarnation of his sextet perhaps 2 common tunes, so he writes. As proof, he played one that was just finished on the day, so unnamed. The sextet comprises three horns - tenor, trumpet, trombone - up front and there's some satisfying writing for the three, but there's time, too, for open band improv, or for features for each instrument, including the rhythm section. So space for the individual, but also for the combined force of a capable band. I particularly loved the pairing of the two brass, trumpet and trombone, Ken Allars and James Greening, but that's an easy enough attraction. They are wonderful players and sensitive and responsive to others. Mat Keegan was on tenor for this gig. He's a different kettle of fish: wildly understated with just the occasional flourish. James H-D stunned me volume from his little GK and then entranced me with woody tone to die for while he was playing solo. Finn was strong, impulsive, driving, never at rest. Lovely playing and apt for this diverse but loud and powerful music. Luke was the perfect leader, always invited and supportive and guiding from the piano stool. Plenty of solos, there, too. I usually hear him on Rhodes when playing electric. It a real and non-digital tone and solos nicely, and comps with a generous rotundity behind a full ensemble. For something different, Geoff Page sat in for a reading of his Elegy [to jazz trumpeters] against a cool blues with angular head to start the second set. Well informed and a treat for jazz historians. I was interested that all the tunes had a reference: Little whippers to kids playing; Really on time to drummer Namchoon Kim; Dashing horse; Introvert. There are stories here, although stories are never too obvious in music. Tit bits that started as march and morphed to reggae. This was a compositional success and an individual romp for the players. Great stuff.

Luke Sweeting (piano) led his sextet comprising Ken Allars (trumpet), Matt Keegan (tenor), James Greening (trombone), James Heazlewood-Dale (double bass) and Finn Ryan (drums) at the Gods. Geoff Page (poems) recited for one tune.

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