23 July 2014
Out of the West
Lots of jazz good seems to come from Perth, but it's a long way away and we don't get it too often. It was a mid-winter Canberra Sunday night and the audience was far too sparse, but JC5 played at Smiths for their "Legit East Coast Tour Experience". JC is James Cross and he's the leader and trombonist and composer for much of the material. This music was essentially electric, richly effected, rock rhythmic and structurally complex. The two front horns, tenor and trombone, could be softly spoken, played in parallel lines for a head, or soloing with echoes and envelopes. The piano was Rhodes, but with a Moog pedal and more, so seldom sounding just of an electric piano. I could hear Herbie and the like, playing with tone, strongly played but also other-worldy. Bass was also a mélange of tones, sometimes through technique (fingers, slap, pick, thumb, chords), other times with a deep added octave, always with a Jaco punch of the bridge pickup and with a lovely edge. Nice bass and plenty of interesting solos. Just the drums were uneffected: just solid, rock rhythms with sharp fills and taps. Like the bass, working the octaves, syncopating the groove and filling with some lovely twisty bits. There were strange times, some ornery rhythms, unexpectedly dropped beats, patterns swapping in and out. I counted one tune as 12 split into repeating 3-4/2-3 changing to a standard 6 divided 3-3. I think that was just one part. Big dynamics, too. One tune dropped to the slightest of drums and bass, just audible, swelling so slowly through piano and sax solos. The penultimate tune was just a lovely ballad sitting unexpectedly in this program: echoing tenor with rolling drums and background colours from piano and trombone. Lovely. It developed into a pushing rock then a riff-based trom solo over drums. I thought of Josh Roseman or Dave Holland with Robin Eubanks and Chris Potter. This is rocky, riffy music with a sweet sound of sax twinned with trom. James said he listens to hip-hop and Kneebody is an influence. And Ellington. Whatever, it sounded fresh and interesting and well played and was considerable fun. Their smiles betrayed that they were having a good time, too. Great gig; too poorly attended.
JC5 were James Cross (trombone), Luke Minness (tenor), Lewis Moody (piano), Marty Holoubek (bass) and Jacob Evans (drums).