10 June 2015


Jenna Cave returned to Canberra with her Divergence Jazz Orchestra for the final concert of the Capital Jazz Project. Jenna was Canberra-bred and a student at ANU a few years back and this was her first return with her big band. Big bands are not easy to travel but what a sound they have! DJO plays the music of Jenna and other Australian composers. This concert was a Jenna feature: all her own arrangements, mostly her own compositions. What a nice band! Plenty of dynamics, nice intonation and feel, plenty of decent solos. There were several tunes inspired by African rhythms, some tunes I'd heard before when Jenna was writing for student bands, a commission for WAJO (West Australian Jazz Orchestra) in 7, several with the feel of New Orleans recalling her trip there with a few muso mates. One was Jazz euphoria on Frenchman's Street and that rang a bell: I've also experienced the music in every shopfront on night-time Frenchman's Street. Another channeled the infectious rhythms of the NOLA brass bands. There were some more pensive charts, for a renewed sense of optimism, or dedicated to a friend on an early death. For Miro was a Basie swing chart inspired by her studies of Sam Nestico. And an arrangement of Miro's rollicking composition, For Woody. For Miro / For Woody: there's plenty of respect across the generations in jazz. Miro appeared for a few solos, including a New Orleans style duet with trombone, and I particularly enjoyed some solos on bari, alto, bass, guitar and drums. Plenty of decent players here, but the nature of a big band is communality rather than individualism, even if solos feature in virtually every tune. But it's community that makes the luscious tones and fascinating interactions and deep grooves. That's the beauty of the big band and this band has it. Much enjoyed.

Jenna Cave (compositions, arrangements, director) led the Divergence Jazz Orchestra with Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet, flugelhorn) as guest. DVO are Paul Weber (co-Musical Director), Brendan Champion, Tim Coggins (trombones), Luke Davis (bass trombone), Paul Murchison, Rob Campbell, Paul Meo, Will Gilbert, Will Endicott (trumpets, flugelhorns), Justin Buckingham (alto, soprano, flute), Loretta Palmiero (alto, clarinet), Evan Harris (tenor, soprano, flute), Louis Klassen (tenor), Tim Clarkson (baritone/clarinet), Luke Liang (guitar), Andrew Scott (piano), David Groves (bass) and James McCaffrey (drums).

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