15 February 2022

Venerable at 30

Wanderlust is 30yo.  That's quite an achievement for a band.  Miro's group that has changed a little but not tons over the years.  Still that delightful sweetness, that glorious sense of melody, that easy virtuosity with no pretense or hubris.  This is music to delight in.  They played their 30th anniversary show at Street Theatre 1.  The sound was a delight: I noticed when I tried to track each instrument, guitar, bass, drums, piano, perhaps sax soloing, and they were all there, clear and ringing, but nothing in the way.  Then the playing.  Of course, Brendan was a blast, but from a bassist that is without saying.  And his offsider, Fabian on drums, also a blast and an intriguing opening to the music of South America.  I hadn't realised he'd escaped Pinochet; I knew of Miro's escape from Russian tanks entering Prague.  It was a different Australia then.  Then Alister blew me out with the most alacritous jazz lines but also roguishly-perpetuated dissonance.  That is serious harmonic chops.  And working across the front line, John has those harmonic chops too, that we know, but my bliss was hearing his solo on Wanderlust, a tune by Duke Ellington.  I knew the tune, of course, but not the title.  John played the most unexpected and melodically glorious solo, so much in the tradition of the originators.  Bliss.  He told me later he'd been thinking who he would emulate and reeled off a string of Ellington's performers, what, Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Ben Webster?  That's listening.  Then Miro, of course, gloriously melodic on flugelhorm, more stretching on trumpet.  I was noticing the sound helped me experience these guys more than I remember.  James is always a blast and an amusing stage presence, and his playing this night was overwhelming at times, deliciously tonal but also playfully quick and lithe playing to the trombone's strengths.  And finally Jeremy, always certain and clear and crisp, not so fast as certain and tuneful.  Fabulous band.  They played only 7 tunes in their 90 minute allowance, so plenty of solos shared around.  The audience delighted in it all.  They were mostly compositions by Miro.  Miro's melodies are delicious and this band plays the heads with authority, sweetly tuned but also expressive.  Bronte Cafe, Delicatessence, Mumbo Gumbo,  Pressure makes diamonds.  Mumbo Gumbo felt like a 12-bar at first, but I ended up counting 16+1.  An interesting structure.  Fabulous tunes that even found an outlet on radio as program themes (Bronte Cafe on ABCRN).  And that Ellington tune, Wanderlust, and one each from Alister and Fabian.  Then an end.  But an invitation for drinks to celebrate.  Great night of music and even a beer to finish off.  Other than the difficulty getting a pic (yeah, I know, it shows above!), all was well with the world.

Wandlerlust played their 30th anniversary concert at the Street Theatre.  Wanderlust were Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet, flugelhorn), James Greening (trombone), John Mackey (tenor), Jeremy Sawkins (guitar), Alister Spence (piano), Brendan Clarke (bass) and Fabian Hevia (drums).

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