01 November 2014

Openers 1

It’s Friday Night at Wangaratta Jazz Festival. I usually miss this first night and I expect it will be more relaxed, less busy. It’s not too busy despite some big names. It will be busier at the Blues Tent. I’m eagerly awaiting Enrico Rava.

Starters is the Launch Party with invitations from AustralianJazz.net / Extempore and Miriam Zolin. This event featured two further launches. Firstly, of a new set of postcards celebrating the 25th year of the Wangaratta Festival with 25 postcards, one each for and by the 25 annual winners of the Australian Jazz Awards. It’s a multifarious bunch of postcard designs, all provided by the respective winner. Everything from rubber duckies through promo pics to hand drawings and considered themes. Gerry Koster of ABC jazz did the launch. John McBeath, jazz reviewer for The Australian, then rose to launch Geoff Page’s latest book, Aficionando : a jazz memoir. Geoff recounts his love of jazz from age 16, and John observed some of his own similarities. Any jazzer will understand the lure of the complexity and richness of jazz and it was mentioned in this launch. To finish, Geoff read five poems with backing from Tom Botting. Tom’s bass was surprisingly loud and firm toned, unamplified, while improvising on a range of grooves and tunes, Night and day, blues and others. Geoff read poems on jazz themes. I pricked up my ears for one on the community that’s part of the jazz world and Geoff’s mention of our reliable codgers’ table at Smith’s (Geoff, Keith, Brian and me. The table is mostly reliable although we failed last Thursday). Many thanks to Miriam for her impressive and tireless work for jazz in Australia.

Then Enrico Rava was the opening concert. Enrico, in white jacket over black, hair and face pale and flighty, his trumpet confident and guiding, sometimes firmly stating a line with big tone, other times lighter or tongued or tonal or whale screams, frequently releasing quick lines way up into the sky. He was playing with a mix of students from Monash and Paul Grabowsky and Steve Magnusson for one tune each. There were four or five tunes, 6/8 hard bop, a ballad, delicate grooves, a more playful tune to finish. I felt the students weren’t quite the challenge that to raise his spirits, but he played well, instructed and guided well. The students were capable, some surprisingly mature. I liked an early pair of alto/tenor, a later drummer and especially a pairing of trombone/tenor that spoke with real authority [PS, I now learn they were teachers; the tenor sax was Mirko Guerrini / Eric, 3 Nov]. Looking forward to Enrico playing with the pros.

Enrico Rava (trumpet) performed the opening concert with students of the Sir Zelman Cowan School of Music at Monash University and short stints with Paul Grabowsky (piano) and Steve Magnusson (guitar).

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