25 January 2019
Clinics then and now
The JMI Summer Jazz Clinics were in town for their second local incarnation and the instructors were on stage at Smiths. The Jazz Music Institute is based in Brisbane and its clinics are a direct descendant of the Jamey Aebersold clinics that came to Australia in the 1970. They were big deals. I attended one (1980?) in Melbourne with a string of staff including Aebersold and David Baker, Dave Liebman and Phil Woods. The ensembles numbered perhaps 40 and I remember drummer David Jones in the top band overseen by Liebman. Both Jazz and Summer camps are smaller now but this staff gig was a stunner. I've sometimes felt jaded with unrelenting swing at jam sessions but this was top notch and as it can be. Eric slurring with deep resonance; John extemporising with passion and abandon. The brothers Ben and James Haupmann just stunningly expressive and purposeful on guitar and drums. The Brisbane sibling cohort of head-of-school Dan laying down some lovely, clear trumpet lines and coordinator Paula comping and soloing with delightful simplicity and clarity. What got me, especially, was the portrayals of the very common and renowned pieces that they played. The tunes were stock standard: Ladybird; Footprints; Stella; I mean you; All blues; All the things you are; Night in Tunisia. Apart from Monk's I mean you, they were uber-common. But you don't always hear all the original inflections, those intro and outgoing lines in Things (fairly common but not essential) or the clear harmonies on heads or Eric's spot-on, detailed take for the Footprints bassline or, for that matter, Night in Tunisia. You could hear their deep listening through their immediate playing and it was lovely. I mean you is less common, but how nice is Monk's odd take on Rhythm changes and his odd little insert at the end of the head. Fabulous, by Monk and the band. I got talking to one woman who was grinning widely at John's solos. Sax player, perhaps? No, flautist with classical training, had toured with ACO and played the Sydney Opera House pits, no less, now in other work here in Canberra. We chatted about classical/jazz, how jazz demands deep practical knowledge of theory and the rest and how this was authentic, deeply understood and prepared, no pretence for miles. The audience was generous; the playing was stunning; the authenticity and purpose of jazz was evident. Great night from a great set of players. Thrilling.
The Jazz Misc Institute Staff Band played at Smiths. They comprised Dan Quigley (trumpet), Paula Girvan (piano), John Mackey (tenor), Ben Hauptmann (guitar), Eric Ajaye (bass), James Hauptmann (drums).