17 September 2021

Hoping

A dedication of love set in cement lays claim to the hope of a generation in the days of failing climate, democracy and equality.  Told in metal, electronics, EDM and even post-modern baroque.

The Pots, my home studio project, has released its fourth album.  Thanks partly to the time afforded by Lockdowns.  Now, The Pots is not jazz, but CJ has expanded to encompass more than just jazz after several thousand posts.  Expect electronica/prog rock with a spoken word and political themes.  Sounds pretty up to date to a kid of several decades back.  Anyway, have a listen.  It's delayed on Spotify, but is on YouTube and a string of other streaming sites, as well as Bandcamp.  Themes for this album include a homage to Greta (Adult in the room), a rant about broken politics, not least ScoMo and his lump of coal presented in Parliament surprisingly recently (Hope%less), a more lighthearted theme with my fave dim synth solo (Ah! PBO), a paean to Gramsci (Wisdom of Gramsci) and baroque, electronica and EDM instrumentals.  All released on the anniversary of the first day of Occupy Wall Street demos in NYC.  Alas, a likely portent for civilisation's future given climate denial, or even just procrastination. 

  • YouTube > https://tinyurl.com/ym2zj9t5
  • Bandcamp > https://thepots1.bandcamp.com/
  • 13 September 2021

    Walkin' (not miles or as in Miles)

    I am at a loss without a project during a lockdown (or at the whims of our cute dachies).  So more album/s is/are on the way.  But in the meantime, here's a video for track 1, Pumpkin discomforts, Double down.  Again politics alert, so you have been warned.  This was assembled from a series of videos taken at Parliament House (it fits the topic).  It's not initially as I'd planned, but it works and probably is apt for the anger and dismay at the quality of our politics at the moment.  Have a watch and a listen and expect a new album release this Friday.  From The Pots!

  • Double Down / The Pots
  • 25 August 2021

    Lockdowning

    Covid lockdowns are good for The Pots, if not for CJ.  You may know that The Pots is my home studio project as Bassist EP.  The Pots have 3 previous albums to their name, all with release dates in 2020, although one was well before lockdowns, on New Year's day.  But the Delta variant has reached Canberra and we have more cases than ever before and we've been in lockdown pretty much from Day 1.  In fact one son and his partner have been in isolation following a Hen's night at Fision nightclub; they were negative and are out now.  But this latest lockdown has allowed me to complete another album that was just mostly just vague thoughts: one track recorded and otherwise just a string of poems/lyrics in store.  The album is Hope / The Pots and due for release in coming weeks.  It's mainly electronica/prog rock with spoken word but there's a final little mediaeval choral work.  It's Ma fin est ma commencement, a crab canon over a palindrome from Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377) to which I add a post-modernist overlay.  Amusingly, it reminded me of bickering over climate, forever back and forth, so its presence.  (My albums get warnings for political themes.  Another track is a dedication to Greta.)  The National Capital Orchestra's next concert got cancelled and they called for videos of members' home music projects for their FB site thus this video.  Hope you enjoy it. 

    12 August 2021

    Floored again

    Again, a concert of students that was unexpectedly impressive.  I should have learnt by now.  True, there was some youth on show, not least from a Year 6 student, but get into the upper school years, and it was a stunning awareness-raising experience.  Hannah Ni was the Year 6 student.  Not quite so developed, sharp, mature as the teenagers, but hugely impressive playing Kuhlau and Grieg.  I think of my weak take on AMEB 5th grade.  Sad.  I long to hear Hannah in a few years.  Then Year 11, Kenan Zhang, playing Mehul and Sibelius.  Dramatic, revolutionary, majestic.  I loved this playing.  Totally committed; authentically interpretive.  Then to Year 12.  Now this is getting serious, Jennifer Liu, playing Bach and Haydn and Chopin.  More common names.  A huge pleasure, capable, informed, mature, even seasoned if you can say that of a teenager.  I think of motley performances and shrink.  But they have a good teacher, obviously.  They come from the studio of Elena Nikulina, award winning AMEB teacher and accompanist and a graduate of the Donetsk S Prokofyev State Conservatory in the Ukraine.  They know their artistic stuff in those areas.  And what else?  They all played from memory.  Yes, all performers and, yes, all pieces.  And I heard a few lost bars but they were recovered with aplomb and they had been prepared for it.  All part of this immensely impressive teaching and its students.  A thing of joy and awe.

    Hannah Ni, Kenan Zhang and Jennifer Li (piano) performed at Wesley.  Hannah, Kenan and Jennifer are all students from the studio of Elena Nikulina (piano teacher).

    05 August 2021

    The seduction of brass

    Perhaps seduction is not a think to consider as you watch an army band in uniform, khaki, stripes and the rest, but close your eyes and listen and the professional chops and bell-like clarity of the brass is obvious.  And you wouldn't start a seduction with Wagner, either, especially a funeral march, but it was a work of delicious wonder, to lead into a varied program from training dragons through to jazzy doo-dah from Stephen Foster and that infectious tune Brazil and some inescapable (and ever welcome) Bach and a combination from the authentic religious brass of the Salvos.  I used to see them occasionally in the suburban streets, marching their beliefs in 4/4.  There was variation of combinations, too, in this concert.  Three big works with mostly all the performers and four smaller works, each for a quartet of an instrument: trumpets on Bach; horns or Dragons; trombones on that jazzy Doo-dah suite; euphos and tubas on Brazil.  It all worked a treat.  Fun or lively, serious or serene or funereal, these were immensely beauteous tones, soft and rich and loud, well intoned and tongued.  Just a huge pleasure.  I must get to the RMC band again in future.  They play pretty regularly and cheaply for the public, at Canberra Theatre or Llewellyn, symphonic or concert or brass band, proceeds to charity, and those uniforms and always that satisfying professionalism.

    The Royal Military College Band Brass Group played at Wesley Church under Major Darren Cole (CO, MD) and Cpl Justin Lingard (Conductor).

    29 July 2021

    Surprises

    Occasionally you really get a surprise in any field of life.  Mine this time was at Wesley at a piano concert by young-gun Christopher Taylor.  He's still at school, Year 11; it's early in a musical career; he lacks that maturity of age (and tiredness).  Perhaps I shouldn't have been too surprised given he was playing the program from his successful licenciate exam.  He arrived in time but not early, as I've noticed other students do, in uniform.  They come from classes, after all.  His first piece was a Bach Prelude and fugue and that was just a little uncomfy, but he soon settled in with the Bach as a warm-up, into a technically demanding but humourous Haydn sonata and then a seldom played Chopin Fantasy and by this time I was in awe, then a final Miriam Hyde with its own demanding flourishes.  By the end, it was admiration and joy at young talent.  Just astonishing and a great pleasure.

    Christopher Taylor (piano) performed Bach BWV885, Haydn HobXVI:52, Chopin op.49/CT42 and Hyde Valley of rocks at Wesley.

    25 July 2021

    Chasing

    It's been a long road to my Brahms German Requiem.  I missed recording it here in Canberra years back, then heard it days later in Amsterdam, at the Concertgebeouw, no less, under Mariss Jansons, sitting in the back row and entering very informally with the choir, then heard it in English as an Australian Requiem at CIMF2014.  But I finally got to play it.  Despite Lenny's video intros and the rehearsals, I still feel it's a mystery, strangely complex.  But it was a huge pleasure to play at Llewellyn with the Canberra Choral Society and a total of 100+ performers on stage.  There are passages to die for, deeply satisfying, exultant or depairing.  For bass, it's mostly the odd mingling of passages that I find in Brahms. He's nothing like the cerebral order of Bach, or playful neatness of Mozart and still beyond Beethoven.  Not beyond as better, just different.  I had to sit out one movement at rehearsal on the Llewellyn stage and it was such a thing of beauty and profundity.  I expected it, but when playing you are a bit focussed on your part, even though aware of others.  Just to listen was a delight.  So, now it's done.  On stage with Lenny leading, although given Covid/Sydney, he could only rehearse the last week.  Otherwise, Louis Sharpe and Lizzy Collier took sessions for the orchestra alone.  The soloists also were Covid affected, so the Sydney-based advertised singers were replaced by locals Rachel and Andrew.  Regardless, it's a thing of wonder, even if still of mystery.  But I guess that's how a requiem should remain.  Nice, too, to play with a member of the SSO who sat in for the day.  Congrats to the many all.

    National Capital Orchestra performed Brahms German Requiem with the Canberra Choral Society at Llewellyn Hall.  Leonard Weiss (director) conducted.  Dan Walker (chorus master) sang with the choir.  Soloists were Rachel Mink (soprano) and Andrew Fysh (bass-baritone).  The bass section (see pic) comprised Geoff Prime, Troy Davey and Eric Pozza (basses).

    • Thanks to Kat for the post-concert sectional pic with Lenny


    23 July 2021

    Flutes and whistles or neither or both

    It's a strangely pure and simple sound, even though this was an orchestra and there were a string of different pitches amongst the performers.  It was the Canberra Recorder Orchestra and they played at Wesley, in the church.  It had to be in the church because there were so many members.  I was first aware of the purity of tone from the sub-contrabass.  It's a strange squarish thing, nothing like the image of a recorder, and it was surprisingly loud and present and organ-like amongst the many other ranges.  But it's still essentially the same as the other recorders, ie, a flute with a whistle mouthpiece.  Director Margaret spoke of 10 pitch ranges (I note from Wikipedia that there are 5 ranges in each of C and F) and that only garklein (=sopranino) was missing.  It was a little thing.  There were plenty of lower enders, though: bass and "great" bass and that one sub-contra bass.  Whatever, the program ranged from Handel and Gabrieli through to modern composers and even an Irish traditional piece.  Unusual, perhaps, but nicely pleasant and pure.

    The Canberra Recorder Orchestra performed at Wesley Church under Margaret Wright (director) with accompanist Bronwyn Roberts (piano, keyboard)

    21 July 2021

    Strangenesses

    Gawd.  A few more best eva gigs and you could have tickets on yourself.  I guess it's age.  You get over playing for others, comparing, fretting and just accept you're as good as you'll ever be.  And you get better!  Strange, that.  How does that happen, I wonder?  But a great gig, none-the-less.  And several ideas for future projects.  And a really nice pale ale on tap.  Couldn't beg for more.

    The James Woodman Trio (today AKA Tilt Trio) appeared at Molly.  In this incarnation, JWT is James Woodman (piano), Dave McDade (drums) and Eric Pozza (bass).

    18 July 2021

    Pleasurable annoyances

    Super Rats has been around a while but this was my first hearing.  They are an impressive and energetic group playing music that I somewhat recognise but don't know.  But it's busy and driving and oddly timed and foreign in many ways.  In language, of course, but also in approach.  And instrumentation, given the core instrument is a cimbalom.  Cimbalom?  A form of hammered dulcimer developed in the Balkans.  Tim gave me a little introduction to the 145-stringed instrument, its techniques and structure.  I got lost after the chromatic bass strings.  The SR site claims Ottoman court music, Balkan peasant folk, Roma (gypsy) music along with a touch of tango and jazz.  My impression was lots of two-feels, jumpy and danceable, entertaining and driving, the sharp and jangly paired notes of the cimbalom at the centre of it all, with a nicely damped, thumpy bass and an accordion that took its share of solos and Pip's blistering violin.  Our group heard some similarity to bluegrass or US folk, but probably the similarity was from Eur to US.  I admired some tricky repeating bass lines and demanding counts generally throughout the group.  There was a readiness to play ostinato behind solos and a resultant drive and thrill.  And some Romanian vocals that were interpreted to much delight.  Not without reason that this band takes its name from a Romanian word meaning annoyed ones.  Not that they were annoyed or annoying, but they to performed it with panache.  Tim was cimbalom, vocals and the core of the band, having studied at the source for some time so this was both authentic and playfully Aussie-local.  And the band he gathered is capable in its own fields (jazz, classical) and eminently satisfying in this.  What a great local treasure: an authentic, modern take on Balkan music.  Saves a trip to Bucharest in these locked-down times.

    Super Rats played all shades of Romanian music at Band Bang Cafe.  SR are Tim Meyen (cimbalom), Alister Price (accordion), Pip Thompson (violin) and Simon Milman (double bass).

    15 July 2021

    Shimmies

    We can be pompous about the arts, their deep connection with our souls and the like, so the sheer entertainment of good company and close relationships or even playful seductions can be forgotten or disregarded.  Even this statement is doing much the same, meaning, intellectualising the everyday and playful.  Linus Lee did a concert that had me bopping in my church pew and smiling big smiles.  He called it European Dance Afternoon.  He played it in the Wesley church, variously with their relatively grand organ and Yamaha grand.  Again, pipe organ in a church is not normally throught of as a thing of playfulness, even less so of seduction.  But it was all there, with the seductive program cover and the polkas and boleros and various dances.  He had a range of tunes, many very well known, from Strauss II, Bartok, Brahms.  I knew Csardas but not Vittorio Monti.  Trust an Italian!  Several dances derived from national folk music, Norwegian or Hungarian or Bartok's Romanian.  SS's Dance macabre.  It was a mix of tones, with the majesty and depth of the pipe organ sandwiching the percussive business of a competently played grand piano.  Linus did both with panache and involvement and joy.  What a wonderful, joyous concert. 

    Linus Lee (piano, organ) performed various shades of dance music at Wesley Church.

    11 July 2021

    Pencilled pop

    The National Portrait Gallery has an array of musics including their Drawn In sessions where they provide easels and paper and pencils and visitors are invited to draw to the accompaniment of musicians.  Today's was with nonbinarycode.  They got me in mentioning that they'd grown up on grunge, punk and stadium rock.  Sounds cool and good fun.  I could expect some renowned anthems and searching lyrics.  nonbinarycode was a duo: Hardman and InkBits.  Well, I got their names chatting to them later and they were wonderfully welcoming and not at all hard or bitsy.  The sound was Maton acoustic guitar into a decent PA, vocals and occasional harmonies.  No auto-drums or the like, but nicely solid strummed rhythms and committed voice out front. Structurally simple but attractive and inviting with tunes like Scar/Missy Higgins, One/U2, Never tear us apart/INXS, Broken bells/Greta van Fleet.  Popular and satisfying and most intriguing hits.

    nonbinarycode performed in the foyer at the National Portrait Gallery for a Drawn In session.  nbc are Jolene Mifsud (vocals) and Stephen Harden (guitar, harmony vocals).

    10 July 2021

    More@BBBBB

    But of course there was more at B!B!B!B!B!  It was essentially a singer-songwriter night, but there was a mix.  First up was pop-rock band Winning Combo Band playing mostly originals from the pen of the singer.  I didn't get names, but this was tight with short songs.  Then The Pots, then Anthony Glynn.  AG was fairly playful, quite confident, nicely rhythmic with a stomp box and his ukulele played over the top.  I noticed a different skew on politics from The Pots and considerable comfort from regular busking.  Interesting.  Then Minh.  I didn't get a full name, except maybe a stage surname, Slowjam.  This was not at all slow jam.  This was singer-songwriter with very rich and fascinating harmonies.  Very nice piano.  Then we caught just a tune from Sanjiva de Silva.  Very capable, presentable guitar-vocals, capable and settled on each skill.  Impressive.  Nice to encounter new styles and people around town.  But this is Canberra and this is Smiths and both bode well for interesting experiences.

    Winning Combo Band (pop-rock quartet), Anthony Glynn (vocals, uke, stomp box), Minh (piano, vocals) and Sanjiva de Silva (guitar, piano, vocals) performed at Smiths.





    09 July 2021

    CD@BBBBB

    Now this was fun!  Smiths runs an open-mic session called Bang!Beng!Bing!Bong!Bung! and The Pots appeared there in their incarnation as a DJ set.  Well, The Pots playing snippets from Pumpkin Discomforts.  The Pots have produced 3 albums but this was their first outing as a CD launch with Bassist EP doing the transitions and intros and just a touch of effects and giving some introductions and apologies for the tunes ("Beware: Political themes!").  All a good lot of fun even if those political themes were not so rosy, sounding great over Bevan's PA at decent volume, even bringing some dancing shoes out, at least to shuffle about to my fave, Power.  What a fun outing.  I have ideas for another, more live incarnation.  Maybe.  TBC.

    The Pots is a project of Bassist EP.  The Pots performed as a DJ set at Smiths.

    Thanks to Rich for the pic

    08 July 2021

    Jelly's roll

    Mila was rushed at first, arriving quite late, for some reason held up.  It showed for some of the Bach prelude that started the concert.  She was playing solo violin this piece, and the arpeggios over the fingerboard gradually got more convincing and settled as she settled.  I have no problem with this.  Then into some confident, rich playing on the following fugue then the Mozart, Ravel and Prokofiev, all with accompaniment from Anthony Smith.  The first pieces didn't surprise me at all, Bach being Bach and Mozart also being his joyous self.  The Prokofiev was different, initially sparse, but then into busy and intriguing, not least the pizz.  It was a violin concerto as were the others, but quite a different beast,.  And then to the most different, very far from Bolero, Ravel Tzigane,  He'd written the piece for Hungarian violinist Jelly d'Aranyi from a commission.  Lots of feature solo passages with harmonics or screeds of notes then into bouncy then dissonant pizz stuff with piano.  Even a touch of danceable fours.  A strange but fascinating piece, no doubt a show piece for both Jelly and Mila.  Mila did it great justice.  So impressed with this intriguing piece of great unexpectedness.  Mila did a great job.   They teach them great and young. 

    Mila Haydon (violin) performed the music of four European masters with accompaniment from Anthony Smith (piano) at Wesley.