2 October 2015
I missed Kimba and Ryan Griffith when they were at Smiths a few months ago but not this time at Hippo. The venue suited them - lively, chatty, social. Her music fits: standards although often lesser known ones. She mentioned 1958 as a key year for her. We mulled over that: post bop, hard bop, cool, R&R, youth, good post-war years, LPs, stereo. It was a great era for jazz and US popular culture. Kimba was leading a local Canberra septet for the launch of her CD. Nothing lost here with this band! These were amongst the best in town and the playing was awesome. Mark and James played the steadiest of grooves but let go for solos when on offer or called for. The horns were great. Dan, Tom, Rob read with panache and laid down colour behind vocals. Rob's solos were steady and melodic; Dan's were ecstatic, shredded but with trad growls; Tom was big toned, lyrical but ready to explore outside. Ryan was on guitar (and accompanying vocals for one particularly intimate song), all clean and uneffected and melodious and occasionally chordal. Kimba herself was lively, playful, expressive, rounded and not too high pitched, communicative with the audience. I just caught the first set. The songs were various shades of swing, blues-boogaloo and one intimate song, presumably original, sounding more Australian authenticity than American wit. I liked it and warmed to the personal honesty, of love amongst disappearing charms of youth and a challenging society. "With divorce rates high / we must be bold / Let's stay together / till we grow old". The title was Sickness and in health. All lovely ensemble playing, effective charts and charming interaction.
Kimba Griffith (vocals) led a septet to launch her new CD at Hippo, comprising Ryan Griffith (guitar, vocal), Dan McLean (trumpet), Tom Fell (tenor), Rob Lee (trombone), James Luke (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums).