8 August 2018

A visit from Graz


This was one of those times you realise it's good to have a music school nearby. In this case it was visiting saxophonist Julian Arguelles, professor of sax studies at the relevant jazz school in Graz. This was particularly interesting as we saw and heard a matchup of two master sax players, Julian with our own John Mackey. Two vastly different interpretations, different sounds, different approaches, both impressive and fascinating. They were joined the local jazz and jazz school community: Hugh Barrett, Brendan Clarke, Greg Stott, Hugh Magri-Bull and Alex Manjura. It was essentially a jam, these people just meeting Julian in recent days, I guess. The tunes were standards: After the rain, I hear a rhapsody, Sophisticated lady, Stella, Bye bye blackbird. But with such players we expect fireworks and/or depth. We got both at various times, highlighted by two tenors soloing in conversation at various times, or listening and responding otherwise. Then a delicacy of guitar in several solos by Greg and some laid out fours by Hugh and Alex and Hugh's intriguing explorations and Brendan's melodicity and plain virtuosity. It's not something people outside jazz really get - that these players can do it so neatly, impressively but immediately. I was about to say unpreparedly, but it isn't that. There are years of preparation and listening to be able to interact so easily and fluidly at first meeting: this is no trivial pursuit. The two tenors spoke and conversed, even if almost in different languages. Julian was fat, rounded, mostly tonal, fast, from bottom to top of range; John was more atonal or substituted (how? pentatonics?), more edgy-toned, again extended ranged, more bucking. Both master, but different. Two views of the same standards. But a great and informal community concert.

Julian Arguelles (tenor) performed with John Mackey (tenor), Hugh Barrett (piano), Brendan Clarke (bass), Greg Stott (guitar) and Hugh Magri-Bull and Alex Manjura (drums, percussion).

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