19 December 2005

Jazz in Melbourne

This is not strictly Canberra jazz, I got down to Melbourne in the last few days, and saw a few concerts. One was an experimental event at the Melbourne Women's International Jazz Festival.

Brigid Burke (clarinet & bass clarinet) played first with Gary Costello (double bass). They played free music to accompany videos projected on the wall behind them. This was challenging music, but played by very capable players, and beautiful in its own way. To me, it sounded more modern classical than jazz. I think this is my response to the rhythmic structure, but I need to think more on that.

The Dur-e Dara Ensemble followed with more challenging free music. Dur-e Dara (percussion), David Tolley (lovely 6-string double bass) and Ren Walters (guitar). David set up each of the tunes by creating a bass loop, to which the band played for an extended time. Again challenging.

I also saw Way Out West at the Famous Spiegeltent by the Melbourne Arts Centre. It's a romantic, old, wood-encrusted, circular tent structure. I'm told there are about 6 of these in the world, and they were orignally constructed about 100 years ago in Austria. I could confirm that, I'm sure, but I don't really need to know more. Obviously it's a much loved venue, especially lending itself to cabaret and burlesque. But jazz gets a look in, too. Way out West are an interesting mix of reasonably light groove/western jazz with Vietnamese instruments and influences. It's all original music with lots of Melbourne references (except ending with Ellington's Caravan). Drums, percussion, bass, sax, trumpet, guitar/Vietnamese instruments. It reminded me of the world jazz of the catholics. I wasn't totally convinced, but I was eventually won over by the lovely Vietnamese tonalities (I was taken with them on a recent visit to Vietnam) and the tribal rhythms of Caravan (is it possible to resist that tune?)