25 July 2008

Not for the fainthearted

Zac Hurren’s Trio arrived at Hippo last night with some fierce playing all round. I wrote of MFO recently as blissful. Blissful is not the word for this, but emotionally charged it was. Descriptions like hard, demanding, unflinching, challenging are more apt for this art.

The trio is chordless, comprising sax, bass and drums. This clears the air and leaves space for individual expression and equal roles for all players. It’s a demanding task master for all performers and audience, but exhilarating with the intensity and free flowing nature of the sounds that emanate. I’ve heard various sax trios and they all have this air to some degree, but Zac’s compositions, influences from free jazz and few standards, just highlighted the intensity. This is take no prisoners; commitment to the fore. Not the cultured, self-controlled, witty, civilised world of the American popular song. This is the earthly struggle of primal screams, jungle calls and primitive drums. Obviously, there’s plenty of training to required achieve this, but the emotions are blatant, on display. Zac’s music is like this.

But there were some foundations that were recognisable. There was at least one blues, although with a wealth of substitutions and varied turnarounds, and there was a standard: Sophisticated lady (no surprise the standard was from Ellington and not Cole Porter). There was Joe Henderson's Inner Urge and Monk's Nutty and the night ended with Lester Young’s Lester leaps in. The playing throughout was high intensity, rhythmically jagged, harmonically multilingual, constantly mobile and communicative. Zac introduced each set with a solo passage, then into melody then into solos. He may have a rounded, full tone on early lyrical playing, but quickly descended to screams and extravagant speed and feverish tonalities. He’d leave space at times, and bassist Phil would fill these gaps with his own deliciously precise intonation, long intervals, equally jagged but accurate lines. There was a bop-like conception of triplet fills early on, and straighter 8s and rocky feels later in the night, but all precise in groove and melodically purposeful. Perhaps a bass solo would ensue, or perhaps Zac would re-enter his solo. Evan would engage with the others, especially Phil, in conversation, and make a solo statement of his own. His was an open feel, wooden rather than metallic, with busy, loud but creamily-thudding kick drum. Even the swapping of blues choruses with drums was not obvious in this context, although plenty correct (except for a heel used to damp the snare at one stage: an unconventional technique!). Where Zac and Phil were jagged and unexpected in conception, it seemed to me that Evan was inclusive in melding this surrounding whirlwind of passion. Whatever, the band sat well despite high levels of intensity and rawness.

On a lighter note, I got to thinking that jazz can be a very economically efficient music! Lordy, jazz players sure can play lots of notes. Maybe we should take that to government for more grants. They like performance measures and evaluations: number of notes per player per gig; low CPD (cost per dot) = high efficiency. Economic man hits the yartz; passion satisfies the bean counter. But I jest! After all, Coltrane had it pretty right with Naima, and his CPD would be pretty low there, although he’d make it up on Giant Steps.

But more seriously, Zac Hurren led a seriously challenging and very capable band which impressed immensely. More proof, if needed, of the vivacity and quality of jazz in Australia’s present cultural quilt.

21 July 2008

More folks at Folkus

The latest of the monthly Jazz@Folkus sessions was held last Saturday, and it was a cracker. There was a solid attendance by a range of listeners and members of the Canberra Jazz Club. And it was well deserved, with interesting original music from Dan McLean and his cohort and a visit by some bluesicians. There was more, but I had to leave early.

Jazz@Folkus seems to be developing as a meeting place for all manner of musically-interested people. There were at least 3 attempts to record the session: James Luke with a laptop taking a feed off the PA, another guy with a stereo pair of ribbon mics into a Zoom H4, and me with my new Rode NT4 into my own trusty H4. There was also a Jazz Club raffle (which I was lucky enough to win!). Folkus founder Bill has pronounced a dictat that everyone should introduce themselves to someone new. It gives an excuse to chat widely, so there’s chance of developing a real community. Good luck to it.

Dan McLean appeared with his new quartet, featuring Greg Stott, James Luke and Chris Thwaite. The music was all original, mostly (perhaps all?) by Dan. Dan seems to me to play with a broad range of styles which encompass the history of jazz trumpet: older style growls and strained notes and traditional arpeggios through to audacious boppy scalar and pentatonic runs. His tunes were similarly varied including several odd times. Unexpected was a version of Summertime with alternating acid 4/4 and swing 3/4 and with some way out timing ending the head (half-time 6/4?). Looking forward was mostly 11/4 (6-5) in straight 8s then swing, but with a bridge of repeated 5-5-6-5 (I think!). There was latin, blues swing, ballads, funky Herbie Hancock riffs, postbop and a Monkish tune to finish the set. James set some solid riffs down and busily swapped between double bass and his fretless electric. His solos are relaxed in presentation but melodically strong and technically varied, and the sound of the fretless Fender is like a bouncing ball. Greg can be a rocket: furious and fast, and conceptually complex. He plays gentle and intervallically interesting lines, but can drop into double or even quadruple speed runs with precision at call. His sound sits way back in the mix with what seems like wet reverb. Chris is a great listener - you can feel his concentration - so his playing was clear and accurate, and he takes tasty solos too. It was a first outing for this band: there were some rough edges and some chuckles within the band when they encountered the odd times, but it bodes well.

The second band was a bit incongruous, but capable in their blues style. They were a trio from the Chris Harland Blues Band, presumably led by Chris himself on guitar and vocals. They played the harmonically simple but emotionally charged style that is Chicago (guitar-based) blues: a solid rhythm section supporting a feature guitarist/vocalist. There were sustained, distorted guitar solos on blues scales and lyrics like “pray, lord have mercy” and paens for lost lovers. Standard stuff, nicely played; great for a night out, a chat and a few beers. If you want to hear more, there’s a strong blues scene in Canberra. See URLs below.

I had to leave early, but as I was walking out I heard the first bars of a band featuring four trumpets up front. It had the sound of composed harmonies and was sounding great, so I dreaded having to leave. Presumably, there would have been a short jam at the end, too. Feel free to add comments below, especially if you were there to the end.

The previous J@F had a very poor showing, but this month’s was eminently successful. Support these sessions with your attendance, and congrats especially to Cam and Dan for a great afternoon.

  • Canberra Blues Society website
  • 19 July 2008

    A quickie at Rydges

    I’ve written recently about Aron Lyon playing with Bill Williams and Ed Rodrigues at the Belgian Beer Cellar, so just a pic. Fridays at the Rydges Manuka are one of their standards nights. I heard All the things you are, a latin, a blues; I particularly liked You don’t know what love is and Solar. Nice and comfortable, but capably played. Lots of solos all round, and sweet instrumental clarity at low volumes. Nice stuff.

    There are a growing number of bands playing out these days, with bars and hotels getting in gear for the Christmas season. It’s early in the season so the night was quiet, but the location is comfortable and drinks are not outrageous. CJCalendar is expanding with bands playing around town.

    BTW, this is post 250 for CJ. Thanks to my few mates who have helped out. Keep reading!

    14 July 2008

    Out of electronica

    The Austin Benjamin Trio performed from the ArtSound studio last Friday as part of ArtSound’s Friday Night Live series. I had to drop in, so I got a few pics. Otherwise, I listened from home, and the sound was crisp and clear. Well done, ArtSound. They had some teething problems in the opening concerts, but now all is well, and the sound is strong and clear.

    The Trio was equally impressive. They talked in the break of listening to electronica and teenage years of heavy metal. Metal? Well, jazz school students often have broad interests. There’s at least one rap outfit with ANU jazz students and students fill in around town for all manner of styles. In this case, I could hear influences of drum’n’bass grooves in the music, with a lovely grand piano strewn over the top giving linear movement. There were a few walking stretches with more bop-like, but harmonically malleable, piano lines and swing, but it was mostly straight 8s and grooves, as is more common in modern outings. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a jazz sensibility, but it’s much more implied than blatant. There were screeches, finger damping on the piano, open drum parts, some free playing, several riff-based tunes, hints of Bad Plus and Debussy. Very nicely played and apparently a group effort. The basic tunes are penned by Austin, but they are massaged and developed by Chris and Evan before finalisation, and even then they seem pretty malleable.

    ABT will be launching their CD at the Band Room on 31 July, along with James LeFevre Quintet and their own CD launch. These are two interesting but very different bands, so the night is recommended.

    The Austin Benjamin Trio are Austin Benjamin (piano), Chris Pound (bass) and Evan Dorrian (drums).

    12 July 2008

    Blissful textures

    I’m a sucker for the textures and richness of a large ensemble, and so it was bliss when the Mace Francis Orchestra played last night at the Folkus Room. It’s a group of 13 players with Mace himself out the front conducting. They are from Perth and are currently touring the Eastern states. The frequent performances show in the sharpness and intonation of the ensemble. And the mateship shows in the good natured banter, particularly impressive given the time spent travelling in a bus up and down the Eastern seaboard.

    The orchestra presented two lengthy sets of mostly original charts. The originals were written by Mace, tenor player Dan Thorne, and bass trombonist Tilman Robinson (hope I haven’t missed anyone). The first and second sets started with swing tunes, mostly penned or arranged by Bill Holman in the 50s. Holman seems to be a major influence on the band, and presumably Mace. These were hard, swinging numbers in the big band tradition. They showcased some capable solos and warmed up each set for the more complex, considered works to follow. First impressions were of a steady swing, and some satisfying drum fills, sharp comping by the horns and capable soloing.

    As the sets continued, we got into richer, more complex territory. Colourful and moving harmonies, consonant or otherwise. Shifting tonal textures and layered horn lines echoing amongst the various parts of the band. Large dynamic shifts with sudden hits or gradual de/crescendos. The whole resonantly greater than the sum of the parts. Tight, well intoned; more modern, more composed; orchestral. The solos became part of the texture, rather than individualist expressions. They were capable and often very well played; more a conversation between the backing horns and soloist. I sat back at times in wonder. Wonder lust. Some tunes displayed fairly simple underpinnings, perhaps descending scalar lines or edgy dissonance or baroque turbulence. I heard chamber music and Sketches of Spain. Then it all finished with an unplanned encore of Moanin’ and Mingus’ blast furnace emotions. Overwhelming.

    What’s more to say? The players were consistently good, but I noticed especially guitarist Tim Jago (a finalist in the recent National Jazz Awards), Callum G’Froerer (winner of a Stan Getz/Clifford Brown scholarship), baritone saxist Mark Sprogowski who blew a storm on Moanin’, and drummer Greg Brenton who just seemed to fit the tunes so neatly. But the whole band played wonderfully, so perhaps I shouldn't highlight names within such a collaborative activity. Mace was selling CDs, but also thumb drives containing pics, links and two live concert recordings in mp3. Not something I‘d seen before, but small and neat, quick to burn and popular.

    The Folkus Room did a great job, too. Host Bill introduced the band; he was obviously out of his native folk world and learning the jazz mores. Soundman Kevin ran a quality PA, and his mixing and processing suited the style: not washed out; not loud. I like a PA when you forget it’s there. That’s how it should be, at least for jazz. And I heard band members commenting on $4 pints, so the reasonable prices went down well too. Finally, thanks to a good sized audience that braved a strangely unpleasant Canberra winter night.

    In summary, an excellent and inspiring night of improvised and composed music at a high quality level. Catch them if you can.

    The Mace Francis Orchestra varies slightly on different CDs and tours, but for this tour it was: Mace Francis (composer, conductor), Ben Collins, Dan Thorne, Alistair McEvoy, Mark Sprogowski (saxophones), Ricki Malet, Callum G'Froerer, Brendan Baker (trumpets), Percy Landers, Robin Murray, Tilman Robinson (trombones), Tim Jago (guitar), Wayne Slater (bass), Greg Brenton (drums)

    Bronte gumbo

    By Daniel Wild

    As soon as the music started, the patrons at the Hippo arrayed their square and circular stools to face the band. The avid listeners remained like this for the night, some nodding their heads, others with head on fist in contemplation. Couples whispered asides about a particular musical moment that had struck a personal chord.

    The Miroslav Bukovsky Quintet opened the night with a high energy piece called Shuffle. Like many of the compositions on display tonight, this one opened with guitar, electric bass and drums setting a groove.

    In his first solo Bukovsky announced himself like a bugler leading an infantry cohort. He then retreated behind a series of nuanced propositions, like a Greek philosopher enlightening his elect following with some seemingly matter-of-fact thoughts. Then he changed to more regular eight and quarter note lines, before building up the tension by combining regular rhythms with the freedom that had opened his solo. Bukovsky is an adventurous player. He’s not afraid to make occasional adjustments to his tuning valve in order to reach quarter tones and blues notes.

    Bukovsky warmed up on his Harmon mute before the first piece began, but hardly used it for the rest of the evening. Not that he needed to. He has a full dynamic range, can play soft, assertive and sharp, wistful or robust. He also spends a lot of time playing the mellower flugelhorn.

    Nor does Bukovksy limit himself to his two horns. Spurred on by Evan Dorrian’s gutsy drumming, Bukovsky keeps two percussion instruments on hand. One is a cowbell and the other some type of large maraca covered in beads. If anyone knows their exact names then please post as comments at the end of the article. Bukovsky doesn’t grab these instruments to have a bit of fun between solos – he gives the rhythm section that extra bit more vitality and encourages cross-rhythmic dialogues with Dorrian. With Bukovsky keeping a steady beat, Dorrian has extra space to extrapolate some slightly ‘out’ drum motifs.

    The second piece offered a complete contrast to the high octane performance of the first. It was a slow ballad by Greg Stott. Bukovsky said it proves Stott to be a sensitive type. In other pieces Stott certainly shows that he has the chops of Charlie Christian or Tal Farlow, but he is more than just a semi-quaver machine. His produces a large range of tonal effects on his semi-acoustic guitar, along with quartal harmonies and rhythmic devices. This piece demonstrated that he can play ballads and craft convincing compositions.

    John Mackey’s solo in the ballad was particularly refined. His use of space and choice of notes ensure his lines are melodic without being sentimental. The sixteenth-notes are not overdone, but rather ripple the waters. Dorrian’s astute interjections on the crash cymbal emphasise and heighten, rather than intrude. His tremolo on the ride at the end of Mackey’s solo signalled the end of a journey and the awakening of new planes of consciousness.

    Only when this new level of awareness was reached did Dorrian break out into ecstatic cross-rhythms in a pseudo-drum solo, beneath the reiterated head played by sax and flugelhorn. We were returned to Earth by a ritardando when Dorrian struck the thicker ends of the drum-sticks on the rims of the toms and cymbals.

    The ante was upped again with Dorrian opening the next number with African inspired drumming. The guitarists joined him, Jason Varlet on bass creating a steady ostinato which provided the foundation on which the horns built vast edifices. John Mackey’s solo exemplified hard bop tenor playing and really sparked the audience. Fresh from his Coltrane tribute last year, comparing him to the master is stating the obvious. The rich sound he achieves and his ability to conjure rapid runs at will has to be listened to and cannot be described. Sydney saxophonist David Theak has similar versatility. Mackey’s solo was fast and vigorous and went out like a candle burning to the end of its taper.

    The settings on Varlet’s guitar and amp were just right – a hard, round lower tone with softness in the upper registers. His ability to sit on a single chord and imbue it with variety, quick passing notes and dramatic modulations inserted at the right moment makes him ideal bass player for hard modal jazz. It was late in the first set when he got his first solo and it had panache. Varlet communicates well with Dorrian and when either of them sense they’ve gone too for out, a nod and a smile reassures.

    Greg Stott’s modal sliding doesn’t change the implied chord but alters the colour and can lend different slants and angles to the solo lines. Dorrian always provides a steady beat at the beginning, but as the tune progresses his underlying rhythms almost become compositions themselves. Great use of texture was made in the openings of these songs. The way Bukovsky’s group can enliven a progression based on a single chord or familiar blues progression should give bands an idea of how to compose simply yet effectively.

    Although these were original compositions, executed with precision and vibrancy and played effortlessly, this is easier said than done. The second set displayed similar styling to the first, with added intensity. Compositions by Bukovsky, Stott and Mackey included Bronte Café, Maybe Tomorrow and Mambo Gumbo. There were forays into free jazz during the openings of tunes, rhythmic influences from electronic music, guitar comping reminiscent of seventies fusion. Whether Stott is comping or soloing, his playing is harmonically rich and without boundaries.

    At one stage it appeared as if John Mackey had had a haircut and grown shorter, but it was Niels Rosendahl stepping in as guest. When Mackey returned from the shadows the tenors navigated a complex head in unison, note for note. Miroslav Bukovsky has assembled a fine entourage. If and when they tour Melbourne, Sydney (or the world) Canberra’s reputation for producing accomplished jazz musicians is in good hands.

    06 July 2008

    Heroes of Waterloo

    Megan and I were in Sydney over the weekend to visit friends. I always try to catch a band, but this didn’t look promising. But then we dropped into a very old, very authentic pub in the “upper Rocks”. Not really sure what the area is called, but go through the Argyle Cut and you pass into a quiet past, away from the rank tourism of the Rocks proper, amongst old tenements, pretty parks, below the domes of the Observatory. The pub was The Hero of Waterloo, and the band was called the Heroes. The Heroes feature an 80 year old woman who was playing flugelhorn as I arrived, and had an alto on the stand in front of her. There were only a few tunes before the end of the set. I caught Girl from Ipanema then a few trad tunes. It was well received amongst a small crowd, and suited the old hand-hewn stone surroundings. And check out the view down Lower Fort Street from in front of the pub. Magic.

    05 July 2008

    Ugly beauty

    By Daniel Wild

    An evening with Bernie McGann and his Canberra friends, who are As Famous as the Moon, is to be savoured. This was a collaboration of joviality and affirmation.

    McGann was recently inducted into the Graeme Bell Hall of Fame – entirely apt, considering that Bell is considered “the Father of Australian Jazz” and like Bell, McGann has done much to keep quintessential jazz movements like bebop fresh. He has imbued it with vitality and an originality that makes jazz players reassess their approach.

    The Hippo Bar can be atmospheric, and with Wednesday’s live jazz, makes for a relaxed midweek outing. McGann, understandably, has mixed feelings playing here. Unless the music is full-blown hard bop or acid jazz, the crowd continually chatters and ironically, it is often those closest to the band who chat the loudest and longest. It’s great they’re having a good time, but if they’re going to indulge in riotous laughter, perhaps they shouldn’t do this under the collective noses of the band.

    If you want to see Bernie McGann, sans bavarder, catch him at the ANU as part of the Jazz at the Gods series. Perhaps the cool jazz approach of Bernie and his cohorts lends itself to some idle background chatter, but it’s the chatter that should be in the background, not the music. Those in the know sat on the edge of their stools, musing over McGann’s distinct and personal statements.

    As Paul Desmond inherited Charlie Parker’s advances on alto sax, so McGann has expanded Desmond’s. How do you describe McGann’s musical language? There are whimsical outbursts, sharp interjections, rapid machine gun flurries, tender reproaches, resigned expressions of love, primal mumbles, guttural conjectures and jocular yelps. And the music remains hauntingly melodic and human. Bernie establishes an intimate dialogue with the listener that makes the audience seem much smaller. He always keeps his audience in mind. His wealth of experience means he has much to offer his listeners and he can condense many years of life experience in a single solo.

    Tonight McGann and jazzmen played three songs per set. Each one lasted about 15 minutes and everyone in the quartet had ample time to build thoughtful, rich and satisfying solos. They all took utterances from each other, built on them and offered contrasting ideas. The interweaving of the textures and their varying density meant the music was always morphing, sometimes abruptly, sometimes seamlessly.

    The opening number, Tenor Madness, set the tone for the evening: exploration, dionysian celebration and humanism. Dirk Zeylmans offered interesting scalar passages and the spaces he leaves in between statements gives the listener time to work out where he is in the chorus. His style has connections with both Stan Getz and Warne Marsh. He likes to use the bebop device known as … “the bebop”, where a soloist ends a phrase on an offbeat. It is more common today to end phrases on the beat, but back in the forties and fifties, “the bebop” was all the rage.

    Zeylmans shows just how different a tenor is from an alto sax. As well has having different registers, the embouchure required on tenor gives the player opportunities to phrase differently and use sound effects, especially on the lower end of the register, that the alto can’t achieve. Likewise, the alto can emit a range of effects that are less feasible on the tenor, such as greater pitch bend. McGann and Zeylmans amply demonstrated the contrasting possibilities of these instruments.

    The second number, Little Suede Shoes, is a composition by Parker in Latin style. It was Parker who first brought Latin stylings to the attention of New York musicians. Getz later extended this project. Both McGann and Zeylmans explored the possibilities the seemingly simple head offered, then launched into more elaborate improvisations that reflected their own idiosyncratic approaches.

    Both Chris Thwaite on drums and Lachlan Coventry on bass guitar provided a steady rhythm section when the horns were soloing, then were given ample time and space to build their own worlds when they were free to solo at the back-end of the tune. Thwaite’s solos were always engrossing. He never attempts to dazzle the audience with explosive drum riffs, but builds coherence by developing rhythmical motifs.

    Coventry’s bass sounded warm and provided an ideal underpinning for McGann and Zeylmans. When Thwaite was soloing, Coventry’s soft and spacious basso continuos were subtle and intriguing. Like Thwaite, his solos sought to build and develop rhythmic motifs, rather than endlessly running up and down scales.

    Other songs played on the night were St Thomas, Softly and other Latin tunes. I left before the third set, when the chatter dies down and the musicians have warmed up. I was told by a reliable source that it only got better, but I’d already left as a satisfied and fulfilled listener.

    02 July 2008

    Indie songster

    Gian Slater’s concert last night at the Gods seemed to me a hugely sophisticated indie-pop concert just as much as a jazz concert. But that’s as much a statement of the breadth of jazz these days as it is of the concert itself. Why? Firstly, it was sung, and that’s not very common in the jazz I hear. Secondly, the lyrics were passionate and personal, and that’s not common in the vocal jazz I hear. Thirdly, the musicality was a fusion of styles, and not strictly in the jazz tradition, although there were obvious jazz sensibilities all round. Gian was playing with Andrea Keller and Chris Hale. Interestingly, I read an article where Andrea is quoted as describing herself as a “contemporary pianist and composer”*. It was apt for both Andrea’s playing, and for the music on the night, for there were numerous ways in which this night escaped the confines of a style. Let me count the ways.

    Gian sings with a soprano voice, often in her upper registers, so there’s a certain whispiness to her voice. I mentioned Blossom Dearie and she said it’s a common comparison. It was with some profundity that we could enter into Gian’s experiences, in the lyrics themselves and the introductions to the tunes. As a male, it was at times an eye-opener to the experiences of women, although we hear suggestions often enough. Musically, Gian sang plenty of complex melodies and some exploratory scat-style lines in improvisation. I found it clearly exposed instrumental jazz lines, but in a less frantic style. It was a pleasure to follow the scalar, chromatic or arpeggiated lines, and guess the underlying scales. To me it was something revelatory to hear in her voice that longer interval that defines the harmonic minor scale. Gian also played with sound, having a little Yamaha mixer and what seemed to be an echo unit on steroids (Korg Kaoss Pad) close at hand. This was enticing, and gave a feel of the studio to the live gig.

    I mentioned above that Andrea described herself as other than a jazz player. In fact, the quote continues "I was never comfortable with the term ‘jazz' … I never felt I fitted into that box, because I'm a woman, because I'm an Australian. I didn't grow up listening to jazz but grew up listening to Bach. I didn't have that sound."* This disturbed me somewhat. Admittedly women are not so prominent in jazz, but there are many very good ones. Also I see jazz as a broad, international art-form these days, and we seem to have some great jazz around Australia. Her approach is not in the mainstream of comping/RH bop lines; it’s more expressionist, romantic. She’s classically trained, so there’s another fusion, although there were occasional visits to the jazz mainstream, too. I felt Andrea gave textures and colouration as much as solos, even though solos abounded in the tunes. And she provided several of the original tunes on the night. It was also lovely to see the women on stage. There was something more interactive, responsive in the way they communicated. Gian and Andrea have experience in working together, so there’s a musical closeness, but there was also a personal warmth on stage.

    As for Chris, well I told him (jokingly and admiringly, of course) that he did everything wrong! He plays a semi-acoustic bass guitar; it’s 6-string; he plays with a pick; he’s got effects pedals; he fingerpicks and even strums (!). And I loved his lightning fast runs and melodic solos across the full range: very nice playing although quite guitaristic. He also played lap steel guitar for one tune. Strange combinations all round! His tone was middy, but fret-buzzy too. I thought it was chosen, but he explained the neck hadn’t settled after the flight from Melbourne. When I felt the guitar, I could see he must have been fighting it all night. Nonetheless, it was a tuneful, melodic display and welcomed by the audience.

    There are other things to note. Gian is a local Canberra girl now resident in Melbourne, so it was also a family and friends gathering. I like them for their intimacy, and we have them fairly frequently in Canberra. It was even a school reunion: there were connections with Narrabundah College (Gians’s school) and the Jazz School (where she did some jazz studies). The tunes were all originals, mostly by Gian, but also by Andrea and one by Chris, so again this made it unique.

    So, indie-pop? What’s in a name? It was emotionally and intellectually satisfying music, both lyrically and musically; it was complex and well played, and crossed boundaries freely yet wisely; and it had rhythm and improvisation which, to me, defines the jazz form. In all, I loved it; it was very satisfying and also quite different.

    * Improvisations: Jazz pianist Andrea Keller, in The Monthly, No. 32, March 2008, p.?. It’s behind a paywall, but you can read the full text in Google's cache.