6 November 2015


It was a small surprise when I looked at the stage and saw not one woman. The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra were playing at the Street Theatre. This was just the day after Michelle Payne won the Melbourne Cup so I guess I'm just a little more aware. There are women in jazz, great successes in Australia and internationally, but no women for this gig. Strange. I'm sure they be welcome: just an observation. This was a short concert of just one set, presumably a Canberra visit on the way back from Wangaratta and presumably playing the set they'd have done there. James Muller was up-front as feature performer and composer. He's a world shattering artist, so a huge pleasure to catch anytime. Next to him was Tom Botting, prizewinner in the this year's National Jazz Awards for Bass at Wang (3rd after 1 Sam Anning, 2 Alex Boneham). The main theme was compositions by James Muller arranged by Florian Ross or Dave Panici. The tunes were mostly strong, driving numbers: Kaboom, Piledriver, Mr Dodo. There was an "ear worm" that was just that by Florian Ross, nicely grooving with little features moving through piano, guitar and more. There was a dedication to Beethoven, now called Eindhoven, by James. This may have been the bass solo vehicle. There were several little features for drums. There were two Sydney Con students/graduates who were new or sitting in (alto and drums were introduced). Otherwise there were several familiar faces. But most importantly, there was the excitement of a fabulously precise, perfectly intoned horn section playing with intense dynamics and some seriously nice soloing over a capable and satisfying rhythm section. That's the pleasure of a large ensemble to me, the big, rich tonality and revealing harmonies. This band has it in spades after 4 albums and 12 years of performance and international collaborations. A huge pleasure.

Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra featuring James Muller performed at the Street Theatre.

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