25 October 2019


It was a fascinating contrast to be introduced to North and South Indian classical music in one week. I'd heard of the distinction but never chased it up. I guess this is indicative: Bobby Singh and tablas and ta ka di mi in the north; Tunji Beier and various tones and drums from the south. Both were playing with western musicians in a jazz context. I wrote of Bobby Singh with Sandy Evans a few days ago. This was Tunji Beier with the ANU Jazz Faculty band in the band room. To me it was like listening to an album, with tunes running one into another, perhaps with a connecting solo segment. Each tune nicely clear and purposeful with a minimalist few chords with a head from Paul Cutlan, visiting ANU and here playing bass clarinet. The feels were spacey or 8-to-the-bar grooves or even a final South African feel, so much repetition with rhythmic plays, modern and so much less harmonic than much jazz, bebop and the like. Truly inviting solos from bass and guitar and bass clarinet variously, playing with syncopations or playing tones, not least like didj from Paul at times, or just hugely effective bass solos, soft but more jazz-like. Not that this wasn't jazz but then bundaries are flued these days anyway. And the drums. Mark took a heavy mallet solo with unrelenting pulse, then to be joined by Tunji with his powerful complex Indian broken rhythms. Lovely and it worked a treat. And to open and close, sharply toned rocks dragged and clicked against a larger rock. And that tuned bowl. And somewhere that mouth harp. This was somewhat towards music for meditation but not there, minimalist to a degree but album-purposeful. I liked this one lots.

Tunji Beier (South Indian percussion) played with Mark Sutton (drums), Brendan Clarke (bass), Greg Stott (guitar) and Paul Cutlan (bass clarinet). Kim Cuneo (piano), ANU School of Music Director, sat in for the opening bars.

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