16 October 2019

Numbers game


Music, especially improv, is a numbers game, and this band was named for numbers. They are One Seventeen, a jazz funk trio in first year at the ANU School of Music and blowing a storm. Apparently they play around campus often. I caught them for the last set of an evening gig in the Coffee Lab, one of the new ANU venues, playing for mates from their college and others. This was no learner's outfit. It was driving, interesting, inventive, respecting and knowledgeable of their forebears. So we got Watermelon man and other such few-chord funk blowers and done with chops and nice feels. They could groove hard, then stop on a dime, then explore sidesteps and dissonances or funky polyrhythms. All solid and danceable and confident. Confident? They deserved it. Very nice and a very nice sign of a recovering School. Catch them if you can, enjoy the beer and perhaps a dance.

One Seventeen are Jamie Rea (piano), Peter Campion (drums) and Haris Hodzic (bass). They played at the Lab at ANU.

15 October 2019

Virtual listening to self

It's odd to hear your own band, here your own orchestra, playing live, but it can be informative. Given travel, I couldn't play this concert but I could attend and listen. Conductor Alan Cook, from Melbourne, was in charge of NCO and Roger and Geoff were in the bass seats, which I obviously watched with interest. I was sorry to miss playing the Mozart Clarinet concerto with Eloise Fisher, but beyond that, this was a program rich in variety. First up was May Lyon Orchestral equations, a contemporary symphonic poem about solving Fermat's Last theorem. Three varied movements with real development. Then the Mozart. Then, after interval, Rimsky-Korsakov Antar symphony, showing obvious similarities to his Scheherazade, with similar themes and similar story-telling style, and to finish, Borodin's ever-popular Polovtsian dances to leave us with smiles all round. Alan has a history in Russia and the Ukraine and with Rimsky-Korsakov. I was not the only one who loved Eloise's clarinet, beautifully expressive and softly toned. The orchestra was short on first violins, so the balance could be bass heavy, although not overwhelmed by our two basses. This is not the stuff of professional 100-piece European orchestras that I've heard recently but still admirable and satisfying and impressive. They (or We) lack the confidence of the professionals, that readiness and ease to commit and emote, even when our skills are perfectly presentable. It shows in dynamics. The Europeans attack, are quiet or loud, but are always something. We do that sometimes, it showed occasionally in responses in Mozart or in changes in Borodin, but we can tend to reticence despite chops. It's no surprise but it is something to work on. But we must remember this is a community orchestra playing the real thing with considerable ability and impressive capability. So my advice to self, be proud and be daring. It shows.

National Capital Orchestra performed Mozart, May Lyon, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin at TheQ under Alan Cook (conductor) with soloist Eloise Fisher (clarinet) and Grace Underhill (concertmaster). The bass end comprised Roger Grime and Geoff Prime (basses).

13 October 2019

Elation


Elation is an apt response to a Bach cantata in full flight so no surprise that I felt it at St Christopher's with Andrew Koll's Canberra Bach Ensemble. Andrew's been running these performances for a few years, each time with a chamber orchestra (23) and a decent choir (32) and some solo singers (4). This time it was Bach Magnificat and Meine Seelerhebt den Herren and Tonet ihr Pauken, Erschallet Trompeten. I know at least some of the last as a favourite, Christmas Oratorio. Bach repurposed this one. The works start and end with, and perhaps feature in the middle, a choral work of volume and exultation. In between, the soloists sing of Mary or Maria or other as the theme states. There was one solo organ passage with hidden organist that had the performers looking at a loss, but otherwise, it's an impressive sight. 50+ performers playing works of elation and depth and busy, sequenced familiarity. Bach is familiar to the modern ear even if one work isn't. The instruments are all baroque (so bassist Dave was on a 5-string with gut and baroque bow) and they got workouts. I heard the busy-ness for Dave and frequently cellist Clara so was not surprised to see Dave's part, but it was forboding none-the-less. And endless stream of a moving pattern, crochet-2 quavers, over the page with Da Capo to mark an end of sorts. They did great jobs with considerable concentration. The whole group sounded great, if just a little washed out in the reverberant environment. The winds were from Australian Baroque Brass with their odd trumpets and troms; the choir was lovely, nicely strong with preponderant sopranos; the featured soloists take a great load and did it with panache and I remember a particularly fascinating piece for massed females, three in concurrent, contrapuntal song; the orchestra just sat and spelt out the support with ease and sometimes features, several times from Aaron on Oboe d'amore; the continuo was delightful from Ariana; the leadership was joyful from Bianca, although I don't remember any solos. Too bad. I'd like to have heard her featuring again. The group is booked for the Bach Festival in Leipzig in June next year, so it's not just me who recognises they are doing something right. Just lovely.

The Canberra Bach Ensemble performed at St Christopher's, Manuka. Andrew Koll (musical director, conductor) convenes the group. The Australian Baroque Brass under John Foster (trumpet) assisted. Vocal soloists were Greta Claringbould and Karen Dalzell (sopranos), Maartje Sevenster (alto), Richard Butler (tenor) and Andrew Fysh (bass). Bianca Porcheddu (violin) was concertmaster, Ariana Odermatt (continuo) accompanied, Aaron Reichelt (oboe d'amore) soloed and some mates, Clara Teniswood (cello) and Dave Flynn (bass) worked hard down the bottom end.

12 October 2019

Distillate


There was just a time when Antipodes were playing away, clear and sharp and purposeful, that the word distillate came to me. The band has been together for some time, but I doubt they play together all the time. Nonetheless, this was beautifully correct while also being quick and complex at times and neat in passing of solos and the like. Restrained, inventive, sharp, intense. These are all words that fitted. To me, that means a nice band with artistic cred. I loved all the solos: frequently from altoist Jake, fairly commonly from pianist Luke and guitarist Callum and surprisingly frequently from bassist Max. And I really liked Max's playing. Not overtly showy but interestingly intervallic and wonderfully complex rhythmically. Smiths' budget doesn't quite come to a Steinway, but Luke's presence and solos were exploratory and always apt none-the-less. Callum's guitar was quite subdued, but could soar with speedy crisp lines or impart lovely modernist colour with various pedals. Not sure I remember a solo from drummer Tim, but his sharpness with gentility was inspirational. They could lift in volume, but they could also sit with the quietest of presence. The music was all original, interestingly from around the band and funnily enough the basis of some effective stage patter from Jake. A few songs for relatives (Tim's grandmother Joyce) or personal discoveries or cosmic themes (Phobos AND Deimos), but Sleep was the funniest. Ask Jake about that one. For a few later songs, trumpeter Alex Raupach sat in and the presence remained with neat sight-read harmonies that added nicely to the understated sophistication. Great night listening to some seriously impressive contemporary jazz. A huge pleasure.

Antipodes played at Smiths. Antipodes comprises Jake Baxendale (alto), Luke Sweeting (piano), Callum Allardice (guitar), Max Alduca (bass) and Tim Geldens (drums). Alex Raupach (trumpet) sat in for a few tunes.

11 October 2019

Doing pretty well here


This was Canberra Strings at Wesley and they were playing Mendelssohn String Quartet no.2 Amin. Barbara introduced it and it was descriptive. She talked of the influence of Beethoven, the similarity to an earlier song by Mendelssohn seemingly written for an amour, the fugue in the second movement and how it's introduced by viola leading to violin 2 and how it's inverted and how it intensifies as repeating instrumental lines gradually arrive after fewer bars. All interesting. Otherwise, the work took the whole concert and it was a pleasure. Four movements; lovely interplays and great playing all around; varied tempos and passions, but eminently confortable. It's great return to Canberra with stuff like this. Before the concert, hearing of my listens overseas, said "we do pretty well here" and it's true. We do and this was one example. A pleasure.

Canberra Strings comprises Barbara Jane Gilby and Pip Thompson (violins), Lucy Carrigy-Ryan (viola) and Samuel Payne (cello). They played Mendelssohn at Wesley.

10 October 2019

Numbers


Jazz is undergoing a revival of sorts, with commentators foretelling a new "Golden Age" led by artists such Kamasi Washington and Thundercat, bringing together afro-funk, spiritual and acid jazz into the broad church of the genre. While there are still strongly traditionalist camps harking back to the New Orleans, enclaves of newer and more diverse musical influences are starting to emerge in Los Angeles and London, to less likely hot-spots such as Istanbul and Baku.

Sam Taylor sat down to interview pianist Jamie Rea, drummer Peter Campion and bassist Haris Hodzic, three young musician who have recently formed local contemporary jazz band, One Seventeen, to make their mark in this trend.

Q: What were your motivations behind starting one-seventeen? Can you tell me a bit about your backgrounds?

Peter and Jamie originally knew each other from their Newcastle schooldays and went on to audition together for their place at the ANU School of Music. They went on to play around with a few bassists, but Haris was the standout and they asked him if he wanted to commit to a musical project and see how it worked out. Stylistically they all meshed and decided it made sense to get together permanently. One seventeen was the number of the room they first formed in and played together as a trio

Q: What sub-genre of jazz would describe yourself as and why did that resonate with you?

We're a mixture of Funk, Fusion and Nu-Jazz. Stylistically, we draw from the stuff we listen to and try and build on that legacy. Jazz is a genre which is constantly evolving. The first jazz musicians were studying classical and romantic music. There was always a muse basis and that eventually developed into Jazz fusion. Now modern jazz is wanting to study and pay homage to the generation preceding it. It's always good to start from the ground up with the fundamentals and respect the traditional, but you don’t want to stay entirely the same.

Q: Who are your musical influences and inspirations?

Jamie describes one-seventeen ethos’ as a trying to achieve a "good representation of live moderns, with lots of energy, groove, but plenty of messing around with tricky rhythmic stuff". Variously the band takes inspiration from Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Dave Weckl, Spyro Gyra, to more modern heavy weights such as Louis Cole and Hiromi.

Q: What do you think of the Jazz scene in Canberra?

Pleasantly surprised with the amount of jazz that’s happening in Canberra, but feel there could be more of a modern element. You have to move beyond standards and doing straight-up jazz because breaking out of that mould can bring the opportunity to define a niche within the Canberra Jazz community.

Q: What are you plans going forward and where can we find more of you?

While the band is currently focussed on their live performance schedule and securing places as supporting acts, they currently have two originals in the work. They also have the privilege of having renowned sax player John Mackey as a guest addition for some performances.

Sam Taylor interviewed the local contemporary jazz/funk band, One Seventeen, comprising Jamie Rea (piano), Peter Campion (drums) and Haris Hodzic (bass).

Thanks to Sam Taylor for the interview and the band for the pic

Follow @ jamie.rea.musicology and @_petercampion on Instagram for more info and upcoming gig details.

7 October 2019

Normality

Ah, things start to go back to normal. This was my first gig after returning from Europe. Tilt played at Pialligo Estate for a private function. I was working through my bass that sounds great after recent work but feels distinctly different. James couldn't make it but old mate Ross Buchanan filled in and it went a treat. A few people came up in the last break to thank us. That's nice. Musicians? Yes, conductor. Conduct what orchestra? London Phil. London Philharmonic Orchestra?!? Yes ... and various other Euro orchestras. And you play too? Yes, flute, and involved with management of Sydney Youth Orch. This was Matthew Wood and Roslyn Perry, now in Sydney after some time in Europe and a cousin of the celebrating family. Lovely couple with serious skills. So the last set of a long night was a little more testing, being the last of a four hour gig and playing for such illustrious guests, but not for anything Matthew and Roslyn said or did. They were great listeners and eminently supportive of fellow musos. A pleasure to play for them and host Mycaila and her very lovely extended family. And to play it with Ross.

Tilt Trio were Ross Buchanan (piano), Dave McDade (drums) and Eric Pozza (bass) and our muso guests were Matthew Wood (conductor) and Roslyn Perry (flute).

4 October 2019

The biggie


The Louvre is a genuine biggie amongst museums. We started with a few hassles related to tickets, then had to buy new tickets, then got lost in the masses of rooms and overwhelmed with the crowds and the sheer size of this collection. It’s not our first time here, so that first thrill is gone, assisted ably by masses of tourists. And mobiles. And selfies. And poses. Strange that you’d pose with a thumbs up in front of a painting of massive proportions that dwarfs you. But you do. I have a pic (not selfie) problem, too, but I blame it on my CJ journalistic responsibilities! (Yeah, well…) Mona Lisa is now moved so there are lines for that. We had tix for that, just in case, but decided against it. It has been unsatisfying for years now given the distance and numbers trying for their peeks. Luckily, Leonardo’s other three works are still in place rather than moved with ML. That was a pleasure. So were Greek statuary and North European paintings and always Raphael and Botticelli. Botticelli had some glorious frescoes at the entrance to that incredible Italian corridor. I enjoyed the French, too, and they can paint big, Delacroix and David. And some lovely Cronachs and Metsys’s, both favourites. And the standards, Venus de Milo and Victory of Samothrace. Not sure I understand quite the fame of that Venus. And the wings that were closed, because it’s Friday or the renovations or whatever; those we missed. As with the Mesopotamians and the Code of Hammurabi which we discovered last time here, it’s the first legal code known and it's stunning. But so many people and so much genius to pass by. Next time, we plan Louvre as a mid-winter pleasure.

The Louvre is in Paris and it’s busy.

3 October 2019

Another fave



The Orchestre de Chambre de Paris was playing Brahms 4 at the Théâtre de Champs-Élysée and we were there. Not just Brahms, but that’s a favourite. Again, it’s one I’ve played and so it has that special awareness. Megan just knows it as a favourite from ages ago. Also Mozart 25 and Mendelssohn Piano concerto. The Mozart is a pleasure, of course, the theme from Amadeus, and done with ease by all though the quick passages and nicely balanced otherwise. Nice. The Mendelssohn solo was played by Lars Vogt, otherwise the conductor, and he led from the keyboard for various passages here, at least when not otherwise engaged. It’s a busy piece, played with intensity and nicely responded to by the orchestra with limited conducting. But the biggie was the Brahms I had swapped to front row seat so heard and watched as a orchestra member does. I knew the lines, so followed the basses, but also could take in violins and others that are otherwise less in conscious awareness while playing. So the appreciation is different. The pleasure, perhaps, is too. Great joy in hearing the snappy bass, following the bowing, enjoying principal Eckhard’s physical immersion in the music. Another bassist Fabian later mentioned that Brahms’ father was a bassist, so Brahms knew how to write for bass. I didn’t know that and it got me thinking. The orchestra is called Chamber, but it’s a decent size: 3 basses; ~50 performers, including winds and percussion. The sound is different in an old acoustic like this theatre. The upper strings were softer, the sharpness was reduced and the sound more muffled, but not at all unpleasant. And that Brahms was magic. Tight playing, fascinations with the changing passages, exhilaration with the interplays. We enjoyed it immensely. Paris looks to be a great city for music, classical of jazz.

The Orchestre de Chambre de Paris played Brahms, Mozart and Mendelssohn at the Théâtre de Champs-Élysée under Lars Vogt (conductor, piano). The bottom end comprised Eckhard Rudolph, Fabian Dahlkvist and Charlotte Henry (basses).

2 October 2019

Little biggie


The biggie comes up soon: the Louvre. Not like it used to be. I remember yonks back seeing the Mona Lisa from a few feet with just a few people. Recently, it’s been from a distance with multitudes and selfies. Now it requires a Leonardo ticket. Presumably you need that for the others, too, so we have it. But that’s tomorrow. Today it was the Musée d’Orsay, the modern art museum, ~1850-1940? Much better than I expected and quite a buzz. Some of the most renowned impressionists which are not usually my favourites, but I got a buzz here. Sculpture, visuals, decorative arts. Recent days have been Musée de Cluny (mediaeval) and Pantheon and the c. The Pantheon was disappointing; a secular mausoleum with the graves of Rousseau, Votaire and others. Not unexpected. I had high hopes for the Musée de Cluny but it was tiny (although what little was on display was excellent), the Roman ruins were not open for inspection and the major work, and we’d already seen the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries in Sydney. The Musée des Arts et Métiers is a Scitech museum, worthy given the importance of some French science over recent centuries and Foucault’s (virtually original) pendulum.