21 March 2015

Daniel plays our lost Parisan café

Daniel Hunter was back from Paris for several birthdays and a jazz wake for Smiths and perhaps more. The venue was full (I almost didn't get in and a few other regulars gave up) but that's life in the big smoke. Perhaps Smiths should have seen crowds more like this earlier and they may not have closed. Sad. But good to hear Daniel again, this time touring with a band of mates from Melbourne, the Longhairs (joke). Jokes were a topic of the night (joke). Really, the music was the topic and this was convincing stuff, reminding me of West Coast contemporary, perhaps Pat Metheny. Guitar music, changing bar lengths especially in the head, plenty of changes but few obvious cycles. I'd heard a few of these tunes from his CD and there were some new ones: one as yet unnamed; another called Asylum with an obvious theme and angry, 4 chord rock resonance. Another is Sco-feel with obvious references, and I could feel the Scofield dirty guitar edge here and elsewhere. I liked the echo that held after some tunes, too, although effects, certainly sustain, were not too obvious. Drummer Nick was a hit with much rock-influenced concept and conviction and confident execution. Bassist Gareth is an old hand and local favourite. He's showing great firmness and professionalism after several years in Melbourne. Tenor Jack built his solos nicely from evident to rabid fast passages. Really nice, and especially so in harmony with John Mackey who sat in for two tunes. John was the teacher of several of these students and deserves their obvious respect: he played a storm and read post-bop easily: admittedly fairly scalar lines but at presto speeds. This was Circulation, like the others a composition by Daniel. Born in the 80s was Daniel talking about his generation with a manic, discordant concurrent solo by tenor and guitar. But perhaps it was Quiet, a pretty, floating tune in 3/4 with melody syncopations that I most took to. But then, at the end, I wondered at the quality of these guys: the neat reading, spot-on timing, interesting charts, substantive solos. This is the product of our jazz education, now looking to me to be pretty much lost to Canberra. And our Parisian café, Smiths Alternative, along with it.

Daniel Hunter (guitar, compositions) led a quartet with Jack Beeche (tenor), Gareth Hill (bass) and Nick Martin (drums). John Mackey (tenor) sat in for two tunes. For the last Thursday jazz night at Smiths Alternative.

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