08 June 2015

The heights

There are times when you are exposed to something of the highest quality and the expanse of an art or whatever becomes evident. Joe Lovano played at the Street Theatre and this was listening to the heights of the improvisational jazz. Just a stunning outing and only enhanced by the intimate surroundings. This man plays his heart out. Two hours of just 6 tunes then a short take on Body and soul as an encore. They work hard, these types. They played some originals in the modern mould, Coltrane's Fifth house and Ornette' s Lonely woman and a few standards. We all know the standards, the cycles and the middle eight, but to hear the subtlety or the expansiveness and exhilaration of a master floored me. The support was Paul Grabowsky and his trio. All high energy, driving stuff. Paul with his Euro/classical influence, all fast with ideas, if to my ears not flowing with the earthiness of US black blues. Dave Beck driving, unrelenting, furious. Phil Rex, too, fast and furious but not without purpose. I loved his playing: sliding intervals, easy thumb positions, stunningly volley-fast with hammer-ons and open strings. And Lovano, the huge presence, building ideas effectively or spewing forth lines. I noticed how wonderfully he could spell chords and create interest at speed, not with dissonance or substitutions but with intervals and merged notes as colour. Just masterful tenor playing. It's been a wonderful international line-up at CJP (Bad Plus, Eric Harland, Stefano Bollani, Ospina Brothers, Joe Lovano). Thanks to the Street for CJP, even if it has me musing on the dwindling smoke of Canberra.

Joe Lovano (tenor, soprano) performed with Paul Grabowsky (piano), Phil Rex (bass) and Dave Beck (drums) for the Capital Jazz Project. The foyer band was foyer band of ANU students: Caitlin Magee (vocals), Johannes Luebbers (piano), Brendan Keller-Tuberg (bass) and Alec Brinsmead (drums).

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