13 March 2015


Shorty and Chow were back at Smiths. I hear them snot so much as jazz but as fusion. It takes me back. Those changes, those driving feels and sometimes contorted melodies and solos, that power that's not-too-subtly emanating. Luke feels very much like this and it's not surprising because he wrote a good deal of the original compositions (I think Barney wrote all the others). Barney mentioned the difficult changes in On point. I could feel the intervallic contortions in Luke's soloing on the early tunes. He had plenty of gear on stage, three guitars and an array of pedals. He was playing Gibson semi-acoustic on the first tunes (ES335 or thereabouts) and the style was fusion, distorted, driving, sustained from the Fender Twin. There's some real tradition here. A later tune on a Strat was more Beck-ish with wang bar and then to finish a fatter a Les Paul with more bluesy, scalar soloing. A nice touch of history and a chance to compare classic tones and to revisit my fusion past. I was loving this! Julian was far more smooth and scalar throughout in solos, if sometimes choppy in accompaniment. Nicely phrased over barlines and through changes, smooth, not jarring but deceptively adventurous with its rhythmic note placements. Lovely. He was mostly alto, but touched on soprano. Barney was mostly on double bass, very occasionally with French bow and mid-punchy presence from a Mark bass amp. It's not a traditional sound, but it is one that cuts through. I was overjoyed by a few monstrous unison lines, one on acoustic, then another on the Warwick e-bass that he used later in the night. There was lots of reading here: everyone had charts and there were obviously plenty of dots written. I really enjoyed new drummer, Blair, too. I noticed on the Net that he's played musicals and he had that awareness of form and purpose that fits that style and some very well-formed but driving and interesting swapped fours and a solo or two. Very neat; very professional. But these guys are that: they all play the Duntroon Band. Their tunes were all originals, other than a short funky take on Coltrane's Naima. This is an outing before a recording. The tunes were often merged into medleys with interludes, I would guess mostly through-written leaving some generous spaces for solos. The tunes had names like The Seer or Pat's coming to town or Small story or Sunflower or On point. Nothing in these names, but this was some interesting and competent fusion with jazz chops and a touch of looping and driving guitars and contemporary jazz sax. Interesting writing and foot tapping and a chance for some screaming guitar. Much enjoyed.

Shorty & Chow are Luke Greenhalgh (guitars), Barnaby Briggs (double and e-bass), Julian Fung (alto, soprano saxes) and Blair Fairbairn (drums) and they played at Smiths.

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