13 December 2021

A sparse musical year but a packed weekend

It's been a busy musical weekend with Mike's oratorio sandwiched by a pair of Musica da Camera concerts.  It's my last concert of the year.  MdaC always plays a local concert, in our rehearsal venue, a church in Cook, then we tour to a local town for a gig on the Sunday.  It's fun.  This time it was again at Gunning.  They have a decent music import system from Canberra and maybe Sydney.  We play in a hall that's awash with reverb.  I don't always like that, but did this time.  The group seemed so large and loud and sweet and mercifully resistant to highlighting mistakes.  This was a program that's been in preparation for yonks.  Originally for September with Lizzy Collier as director.   That was kyboshed by Covid, then Lizzy was to take this December concert but had an operation and is in moonboots for Christmas.  So, we got a new conductor, Craig Woodland, head of music at CGS and very expert.  Not many mistakes passed his ears!  The program was not an easy one but not too long.  Plenty of tricky early C20th complexities.  Penderecki, FS Kelly, Holst, Foote and Dvorak.  Not an immediate favourite, but I did warm to it.  Preparation, even after this extended time, was interrupted.  So a few slipups Saturday and a few others on Sunday, but pretty well covered.  We had some guests form NCO, Angela Liu and Elizabeth Alford, but especially Jodie Petrov playing excellent flute as the soloist.  The horn and harp also added new colourings.  So busy: Friday night final practice, gigs on Saturday and Sunday.  It's a busy weekend but you can only love it with such a capable ensemble and exciting visitors.  And the touring: I've done hardly any so I can still enjoy it. For the sights and more.

Musica da Camera performed Penderecki, FS Kelly, Holst, Foote and Dvorak under Craig Woodland (director) with soloist Jodie Petrov (flute) and guests Angela Liu (horn) and Elizabeth Alford (harp).

12 December 2021

Of a martyred Roman and her slave

I've known Mike for quite a few years and it seems his compositional daring and chops just keep expanding so even though I was overwhelmed to think a mate had written an oratorio, I was not really surprised.   And I've heard his music.  The jazz is melodic with nice chords and satisfyingly witty lyrics.  Then his classical.  He put out a few albums of classical in the style of the greats, Mozart and Bach and the rest.  I first heard workings at our digs for a Moruya Jazz Fest.  Then I played in the NCO behind his piano concerto.  Now this.  An oratorio.  Think Messiah and the like.  Big works of song and choir and orchestration.  They presented religious themes at times when secular themes were not acceptable or suitable for performance in church.  It's a big work.  I was impressed by Mike, again.  It's big and costly to stage, so Mike presented a few public iterations of a video of the recording sessions.  21 or so players, from CSO and Coro and the cream of local vocal soloists; 9 hours recording over 3 days at Canberra Girls Grammar School concert hall, acoustically treated if still with some residual noise issues; 35-or-so mics.  And a religious story, of saints and martyrs from ~200CE, the Roman noblewoman Perpetua and Felicity, perhaps her servant, and several other free men martyred for their Christian faith.  Mike used her first person narrative, some Biblical quotes and some Latin from Ambrose for the text.  The music was variously influenced: Mike suggested baroque and early music and film music (he has also composed for several films).  I melted with the first introductory piece with a theme that recurs to end and sometimes during.  I was enamoured by the vocals, the clear soprano of Emma Griffiths as Perpetua, but her soloist offsiders were similarly impressive, Veronica Thwaites-Brown and Dan Walker and Andrew Fysh.  All hyper-known names in this field in Canberra.  They were chorally accompanied on some tunes by Coro, a blissful vocal collection of harmonists, and instrumentally supported by a string of CSO and related Canberra players.  Bassist Kyle was in line of sight with Emma/Perpetua so I got so watch him often, but there were lots of familiar faces to observe.  Suffice to say the music and singing really was of wonderful quality and often-enough spine tingling.  The whole work is one CD length, ~1 hour, 24 pieces.  Some were short and sweet, a father's imploring or a mother's lamenting or a martyr's injuries or a dream of Heaven and angels or a maid's protection given birth.  Interestingly, there are two key women and both have children here: Perpetua is 22 and breast feeding and miraculously loses her milk prior to her death and Felicity is with child, then gives birth, thus avoiding some form of death or other.  This is a story from 203CE Roman Empire in Carthage, of course, so we can observe how some things change and some things are forever the same.  The core martydom for emperor story may be of another world (although a speaker before the presentation would deny this) but the humanity of belief, family, conscience is common.  Mike has written a fabulous musical work and, as always, done it with love and purpose.  I am hugely impressed and often touched.

Mike Dooley (composer) presented his new oratorio called Perpetua as a video presentation of the recording session.  The performers were Emma Griffiths (soprano), Veronica Thwaites-Brown (mezzo), Dan Walker (tenor), Andrew Fysh (bass), Coro (choir) and members of Canberra Symphony Orchestra and others.

10 December 2021

A shared fascination

This was a blast for someone who has played with studio work, recorded a few home studio albums and hundreds of local live concerts (me!).  ANU has been offering One on One production consultation sessions with Matt Barnes, Technical Manager Music at the ANU School of Music and for this keen amateur, that's a great opportunity.  We spent an hour talking over Zoom.  I had wondered how this would work; would we play with a DAW shared through Zoom or talk specific tracks and plugins.  In the end, we chatted through a raft of issues and some specifics on compression.  Compression is a difficult tool and apparently a common topic for discussion with others, too.  But the chat was broad and eager.  I've written a string of names of mics and speakers and plugins to chase up, especially Mellodyne for my specific queries on vocals.  My recordings are midi with vocals so it's the vocals that need the polishing.  And we mentioned a few local people who are doing wondrous things and even discussed the contemporary meaning of "producer" (it seems to mean anything you want it to).  Dropped artist names from Nine Inch Nails to Beatles, some locals Genesis Owusu and brother K and Max McBride and even John Farnham.  So I signed off with a buzz after a fabulous chat with a helpful and knowledgeable local about a common fascination.  A few things to add.  I'm glad there's some ACT Government funding and ANU Open school support behind this and congratulations on that.  And the partakers are virtually all locals, or with local connections, and that suggests a vibrant local recording community.  I'd love to see that as a community activity, FB or other.   The closest FB group I found was "Canberra Music Group (Producers, Artists, Bands and DJ's)" but it has a very broad coverage.  Still mulling our chat next morning as I write this.  Matt, many thanks.

Matt Barnes (Tech Manager Music @ ANUSOM) conducted a 1on1 Zoom session with Eric Pozza (home studio, live concert recordings) on audio recording matters.  And, BTW, it was a private session so I asked; Matt agreed to this writeup and a pic.

09 December 2021

End meets beginnings

It was the last Wednesday lunchtime concert of the year at Wesley and the Scholars were out.  I hadn't realised how large is the group.  This concert featured 10 players of various instruments (including one voice).  They played in various combinations, Bach, Holst, Rachmaninoff and Halvorsen but also Jimmy van Heusen and even an original by one of the performers.  Pianist Ronan had written a rhythmically exploratory piece called Cogs as a study of machinery to be played by him on piano with flautist Emma.  That was impressive and quite unusual in the classical field.  As for the jazz, it was still done in a classical style, but I noticed a change of presence for that number after a Schubert-like song from vocalist Elsa.  Maybe to be expected; she was singing in English about love.  And plenty of long arpeggiated flourishes in accompaniment.  I spoke to pianist Martin after and it turns out he's a jazz student; so was trumpeter Jess.  Interesting crossovers here but no longer at all unusual.  Jess had also played some Bach cantatas with oboist Zoe.  Who had also played with... And so it went on.  They were an impressive and capable bunch.  I noticed specially on a rendition of Holst St Pauls suite mvt 1, which I am sure I've played slower.  This take was lively and rollicking and quick.  Then there's the violinist pair of Anika and Brad who displayed  wonderful communication on the Halvorsen, then joining with cellist James and violist Yona for that Holst then again Zoe and Elsa for another Bach.  And then at least one performer doubled up, violinist Brad taking to piano to accompany James.  Sound confusing?  Lots of names and lots of changes but also lots of very capable playing.  I was mightily impressed.  Not sure what their training is, or what they get from the Wesley Scholars program, but our music future is looking to be in very able hands.  At year's end we hear our future.

This year's Wesley Music Scholars performed a Wednesday lunchtime concert at the Music Centre.  The scholars were Anika Chan (violin), Brad Tham (violin), James Munro (cello), Yona Su (viola), Zoe Loxley Slump (oboe), Elsa Huber (voice), Jess Hill (trumpet), Martin Magill (piano), Emma Warburton (flute, piccolo), Ronan Apcar (piano, composition).

08 December 2021

We should practice less

Practice less?  I'm joking, of course.  It doesn't work that way.  But when we haven't played for a bit, for Covid or whatever, we play like the clappers.  It was like this last night at Molly.  Hot from the top on Stella.  I noticed my hands were in shape despite all, strong, producing nice tone, arm not hand and fingers making the quick runs.  The amp just seemed set right from the start.  That's always a good sign.  I'm listening back to a little recording and James and Dave are spot on, interactive, inquisitive.  Good stuff.  But I do tend to often claim best eva recently.  Maybe we are playing well or maybe I have stars in my eyes.  Either way, we got some good comment, met some nice audience, even from Musica Viva.  But the excitement never ends.  We had Richard sit in for a string of tunes in the second set and his sax sounds like gold (he's converted by a recent setup) and I snuck in a few funky numbers of my new toy, a Cort Curbow fretless e-bass.  I like it, all punchy and fat, although it does lack some tone of the double.  I was rough, not having played e-bass for perhaps 5 years, but was working out how to rest the palm and blurt over these little strings.  Much fun, very au courant in looks and a surprisingly good instrument.  So, much enjoyed.

Tilt Trio appeared as the James Woodman Trio at Molly.  Tilt are James Woodman (piano), Eric Pozza (bass) and Dave McDade (drums).  Richard Manderson (tenor) sat in.

06 December 2021

A return for Christmas

It was a rushed affair but not too difficult to pick up and with some inviting music.  Celeste asked me to sit in with Brindabella Orchestra for their end of year, Christmas concert.  I managed just two (?) practices and spent the week before in Melbourne but I managed to get through.  And, at its best, the music was delightful.  We did a few movements of Vaughan Williams songs (more stodgy than delightful, but that's the English style).  Sibelius Andante festivo was lovely, as was a Sound of Music suite.  Libertango was a blast but that's pretty much inevitable.  We also did a string of Christmas carols and a suite of them.  Those were all performed by orchestra or strings alone.  The winds and brass and percussion did an Abba medley and a swing piece.  We were preceded by the professionals, our conductor led his Grevillea String Quartet playing Haydn Lark quartet and a collection of tunes from the Nutcracker suite.  The quartet was classy, nicely intoned, sharply interactive and the rest.  Nice.  And they sat in with the orchestra for our performance.  I melted over some of the melodies, not least Sound of Music.  Surely not, but yes.  Is it a function of age, or maybe just a realisation of the beauty of good melody, think Richard Rodgers and Abba and Beatles and the like.  So, a first concert since April and very pleasant at that.

Grevillea String Quartet performed Haydn and Tchaikovsky.  GW comprise Shilong Ye and Matthew Witney (violins), Julia Clancy (viola) and Samuel Payne (cello).  Brindabella Orchestra was conducted by Shilong Ye.

02 December 2021

Belinda’s choices

We’re in Melbourne and my online trawl of the jazz clubs showed Niels Rosendahl was playing at Paris Cat. Niels' a friend of CJ and singing would be popular so we chose this gig, Belinda Parsons Beetet. In the end, Niels wasn’t playing but it was a great choice. I could tell from the first bars, with a groove set and then a wash of trom-tenor and three glorious female voices in perfect harmony and always that insistent beat. We’d struck a winner. That was jazz in that broad sense, of training and skills and precision applied to all manner of contemporary music. I recalled ‘60s/70s R&B or soul given those harmonies and grooves and horns, but there was pop and jazz feels and odd times and unison lines and solos, of course, even if one was likened by a mate to Pink Floyd. And the original tunes, virtually all written and arranged by Belinda (only one using her husband’s harmonies) with touching themes, of lost lovers and departed friends. I bought the album so lyrics will be an interest. So there was humanity here. And then I started hearing names for the Melbourne scene for faces I didn’t easily recognise. First up, Fem Belling and Nina Ferro. No wonder the harmonies were sweet! Then that fabulous bass. Philip Rex. Ah, yes, I knew that face after all. From a fellow bassist, I was floored, but hardly unexpected. And that drummer. Ryan Menezes was tack sharp, steady but driving, fluid but also powerful in repetition. A masterclass. An early solo just confirmed that. Delicious. No keys, but funky chordal guitar with solos that milked reverb and loops and the like, that Pink Floyd effect, and very insinuating. And those two horns, Jordan and Ron, sweet and arranged, filling spaces and echoing emotions and then telling true solos, although it was their ensemble work that got to me. Than back to Belinda herself. She was in her element, pleasing and personal but also profound at times. A firm voice, sometimes letting go into the clouds as in soul divas, spelling arranged lines with horns or singing a ballad with a smaller band and a big heart. This wasn’t the album launch, but almost. The tracks were pretty much in order but the relaxation was evident and spoken of. They were celebrating the return from Melbourne lockdowns, too. This was in the fabric-hung lower room at Paris cat, with jazz images on the ceiling. The audience was intimate (for this read small) and the atmosphere was relaxed, and I think of the chops and training on stage and the immense pleasure of it all and the commitment needed for the art. Let’s put the numbers down to a preceding thunderstorm. Numbers were small but in no way was the music. It was capable and original and purposeful, as music should be. Have a listen and maybe download a copy. Belinda Parsons Beetet is on Bandcamp and the other streaming sites. Loved it.

Belinda Parsons (vocals, compositions / arrangements) led her Beetet at Paris Cat. They performed tracks from her album Choices we make. Beetet were Belinda with Nina Ferro and Fem Belling (background vocals), Jordan Murray (trombone), Rob Romero (tenor), Gillian Gregory (guitar), Philip Rex (bass) and Ryan Menezes (drums).

30 November 2021


It’s not a museum or a concert but I was out shopping in Melbourne. I’m not a great shopper but this was enjoyable and the goods were second hand. First up was BC Galleries, a shop selling antiquities from Egypt, Athens, Rome, through middle East and Far East and into the Pacific. My particular fondness is for the European but that’s my background. I can also long for a Netsuke or Hindu divinity. Then Armadale Antiques, a classy and impressive collection of antiques for sale, plenty of china and figurines and pretty or playful indulgences. Well, not shopping but rather window shopping, because I didn’t buy anything. But the visits were fascinating. Genuine old, meaning from 4KBCE and the like through to lovely Lalique and more recent comelies. We have some decent museums in Canberra but these shops are not matched that I know of. But then, I remember an antiquities shop outside the British Library which was a cut above again. It’s a pleasure to dream.

BC Galleries (antiquities) and Armadale Antique Centre are in Melbourne.

26 November 2021

Early Advent

Maybe it was the War or maybe the depression but St Andrews was never finished.  It lacks its dome and nave but it's big and impressive, has lovely detailed timberwork and deco-gothic stonework and stained glass and bells (Ellacombe chimes) and a grand organ.  This was one of the concerts of the Royal Society of Church Music (ACT Branch) and I went to hear the organ and we got a few choral numbers and generally a happy program of Advent/Christmas music.  Nice stuff.  The organ was grand, but didn't sound quite so big in such a large space and it was off in one transcept with a decorative facade to the west with smaller pipes and a cloth-covered facade to the east with the big pipes and the swell.  We heard some quite dainty sounds but the big, deep ones arrived and they are always a pleasure.  The choir sang several tunes which I didn't recognise but there were some obvious ones towards the end, especially taken from Handel or old melodies.  Nice stuff in an impressive location that's awaiting completion.

Beth Cathcart (organ) performed with a reduced St Andrew's Choir (8 soprano/alto, 1 tenor) at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Forrest.

25 November 2021

Calling Gabriel

The Bach was instantly recognisable and so was the Morricone.  Not so the Saint-Saens.  A wonderful program, but more than that.  This was a wonderfully performed outing.  I was touched by the effective interplay of violin and oboe, and the softer harp replacing the harpsichord.  Presumably, that's the original, at least for the Bach.  I was enamoured.  Poor Zoe was working between movements to keep her oboe clear and effective.  She succeeded.  This was a beautiful, sinuous tone throughout.  And Lucy's bowing was a great joy, slinky movements but rich tone and a lovely reading, moving in and out with Zoe on the Bach, or just stating with immense clarity on SS.  Rowan's part was different, being harp not keyboard, and less percussive, but always relevant, providing melody but also interesting choices in arrangement.  There was a real interplay between all three.  The SS was just two, Lucy and Rowan, who share a house so presumably play together lots.  Amusingly, their other house share buddy didn't come to the performance; she'd heard it all many, many times.  (Sounds like Megan with my recordings: I understand).  Have I been clear on how impressed I was?  This was a series of wonderful interpretations, at times blissful.  Zoe was a little dismissive of Morricone Gabriel's Oboe, but I'm a big believer in connecting thorough music that people know.  Once connected, people have open ears for new stuff.  And it's an infectious melody.  And the Bach (BWV1060, mvt.III) was a  Philip Adams LNL theme, so also already in many ears.  The SS was rare but just so good.  So in all, I was entranced.  Fabulous concert.

Lucy Macourt (violin), Zoe Loxley Slump (oboe) and Rowan Phemister (harp) performed Bach, Saint-Saens and Morricone at Wesley.

21 November 2021

Telling on our times

It's not a good time these days, with Covid and climate and government so maybe that's why I didn't get so many belly-laughs at the latest Wharf Revue.  Yeah, they were funny and I did laugh outright at the skit on Jacquie Lambie.  The swearing helps with its shock value, of course, not that that was the only skit with swearing.  But I also warm to Jacquie: a rough jewel but she speaks truth and owns up to mistakes.  Not so our PM or the party in general.  Not so much some of our media.  Murdoch got a run with Mephistopheles in a skit on selling souls, but, if I caught the humour right, it was a turnaround with Murdoch doing the selling and Satan the buyer.  An interesting twist.  My heart sank with a big skit on housing with Dorothy as a hopeful home-seeker and the Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion as various real estate people and, interesting, the Wizard as Philip Lowe, head of the Reserve Bank.  The ScoMo skit was meagre like the man and Albo didn't even get a skit.  That says something.  His one appearance was as a potential planetary saviour as seen by despairing aliens: one pic on a screen, that's all.  There was a decent Trump skit; a big cabaret number by Michaelia Cash; Barnaby Joyce showing three others through his man (coal) cave; a Kublai Khan rehash for Xi Jinping; an impressive Armenian song, with balalaika, for Gladys B; some ex-PMs, Rudd and Howard; Pauline Hanson, of course.  So on for 90 mins.  All somewhat sad and pretty telling of our country at present.  The response, too, was indicative: supportive but not overwhelmed.  I only noticed one standing ovation.  Nonetheless, good on the Wharf Revue and shame on our politics.  Pretty costly though, but that I can understand: artists don't sell furniture.

The Wharf Revue 2021 was entitled Can of worms.  The WR is created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phil Scott and Mandy Bishop joins them in performance.

  • Thanks to the WR for the use of their banner.  I trust they won't mind.

18 November 2021

Just what is that fingering

I love piano and the last few concerts have been solo piano and there was a piano for this concert, but the feature instrument was clarinet.  Not an instrument I hear too often, for jazz or classical, at least not outside an orchestral setting.  This was interesting.  Helena is a recent graduate from Elder Con in Adelaide and she was accompanied by Lucus, an ANUSOM graduate from a few years back.  The clarinet was clear in this context, woody, earthy.  I was close and could see the fingering and that was slick and very fast with lots of long scalar runs.  I believe the fingering doesn't repeat on the octave, but I'd have to investigate.  It's a difficult instrument not least for clear and reliable tone but Helena did well.  And she didn't select her music to get an easy pass.  The selections of Weber, Louis Cahuzac and Saint-Saens were all challenging.  The Cahuzac was Arlequin and it was a solo clarinet piece.  I was just blown over by the speed.  I could see Helena take a breathe quite often.  Lucus was different, of course, reading capably, straight backed, eyes lifting when a phrase will be led, the model of accompaniment, no breathing issues here other than to remain calm.  So a fresh sound and a virtuosic outing.  Great stuff.

Helena Mayer (clarinet) was accompanied by Lucus Allerton (piano) on Weber and Saint-Saens and played solo on Cahuzac at Wesley.

16 November 2021

Delta VI

The final MusicACT Delta Session was Genesis Owusu and Citizen Kay presented by UC Live.  Genesis opened with nice steady, driving grooves with rap above.  Unison lines with some lyrics and those sung not spoken.  Music moving in and out, suddenly, voice moving through  "Wait / Could this be true / I don't need you, don't need you / Aaah / could this be true / I don't like you / don't like you"  Then stop.  Into another music groove, another performer, Citizen Kay, slipping winds, "Yeah" into deep bass groove and rap.  Nice stuff, strong, firm, steady, rhythmic.  Spoken word verses then sung choruses, four steady chords, varied dynamics, as is this style, some unison bass and something higher pitched, flute or whatever, then space, rest, decay.  "I'm saying who are you / who are you to tell me what to do / I'm saying, I'm pulling through / I'm looking through the bullshit that you say" (did I get it all?)  And wow, a wonderful jazz sax solo, perhaps sampled?  I liked this performance.

Genesis Owusu (vocals, production?) and Citizen Kay (vocals, production?) appeared on the final Delta Session of UC Live.

14 November 2021

The priest and the others

Twice delayed by Covid but finally it arrived.  This was Phoenix Collective as a trio: Dan on violin with the local pairing of Clara on cello and James on harpsichord.  Dan noted they were local baroque exponents (from Limestone, CBE and more) and they were a nice fit for a program of baroque favourites.  It was a change from the normal quartet given Covid.  And what a satisfying program it was!  It was entitled The priest, the intellect, the eccentric and the pirate.  The main composers were four (Vivaldi, Bach, Biber, Pandolfi) with interesting introductions from Dan.  Corelli appeared at the end, probably as an encore (although a generous one with 22 variations on La follia).  Not sure where he fit in those personifications.  Very good playing, too, although there were some issues with balance.  Dan is a pleasantly flashy and entertaining and inventive player and the Corelli and Biber showed this off wonderfully.  Clara was certain and reliable and very present but introspective and the music didn't always demand so much of her, lots of long notes, but a few lines in Bach blew me out, so quick and sharp.  Sadly, maybe from my location or acoustics or just the instrument itself, I didn't catch most of James, except a generous solo passage in the Bach which was lovely.  So the mix was sadly problematic but a great collection of tunes and some capable playing.  I'm charmed nonetheless.

Dan Russell (violin) led the alt. Phoenix Collective, this time with guest Canberra musicians, Clara Teniswood (cello) and James Porteous (harpsichord).

12 November 2021

One (or four) to remember

The Schubert impromptus are renowned but I didn't really know them.  Mark Jurkiewicz played the first four (apparently there are eight) them from memory on Wednesday at Wesley.  It was an impressive performance.  He's been entranced by them since first hearing them so I guess they are central to his musical life.  Certainly, they sounded well imbibed and much loved.  They are not really movements, so the audience clapping is maybe to be expected, but it obviously wasn't something Mark expected; he stood and bowed but the breaks were short.  This was a solid performance, a stolid application, an impressive memory and an honest interpretation with real history.  Hugely impressive all round.  Hope to hear the other four next year.

Mark Jurkiewicz (piano) performed Schubert Four impromptus D.935 op.142 at Wesley.

11 November 2021

Picking dates

I like to choose a release date with some significance.  The first were trivial: New Years Day and Easter Sunday.  I also got a family birthday in there, and I just missed the anniversary of the start of the Occupy Wall Street.  My latest album is a playful pomo classical outing, again by The Pots (appearing as The Potsherds), called Play midi for me.  It's a mix of midi instruments and samples and classical and pop and jazz.  A bit of fun, really, and a change from my political and climate rants.  And the release date is 11 Nov, the date of ... the hanging of Ned Kelly.  I thought that fitted my purposes, although I could have chosen some other event that occurred on this date.  Not to demean that event, especially not the deaths of so many Australians (or then British citizens?) and others in someone else's war.  After all, there has been some change.  We now go to wars for a different country.  But, remember, this is an album with no rants.  Have a listen to Track 1 Pergolesi if nothing else.  Fun to create and hopefully fun to hear.

Play midi for me / The Pots (appearing as the Potsherds) is the fifth album by The Pots. Have a listen on these or other streaming sites:

10 November 2021


It's not just work from home with Covid, but also concert from home.  The Net is an embarrassment of riches.  Nothing new there and it's great to hear the locals, but the world is also waiting.  Streams, live, historical, etc.  I've been taken in recent days by an wonderful concert with Jack Dejohnette, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock and Dave Holland from 1990.  Wow!  Then I stumbled on Dan Tepfer doing one of his online duets this morning.  I just heard the end, a few tunes, one free improv.  Just stunning.  We've seen him here, at Smiths, at the Fitters Workshop, even at Mt Stromlo, for the mostly-classical Canberra International Music Festival.  He has an advanced degree in astrophysics, as I remember, so a mind for the tech, too.  The advanced astronomy students I've known have all been capable coders.  He's been working to make online group playing easier, with JackTrip and Farplay.  This is a seriously interesting musician.  Serious in that admirable NYC way.  Wow, what magic is this?  And for the musos, check out JackTrip and Farplay.

Dan Tepfer (piano) performed a livestream duet with Hermon Mehari (trumpet).


09 November 2021

Delta V

This week, Smiths Alternative and MusicACT presents Rebecca Mann and Small Town Alien, introduced by out host, Nigel.  Again, Rebecca is a singer-songwriter with strummy steel-strung guitar and nice voice and personal stories.  First up, Operate, from her recent live EP.  "I told them, that I'll not operate that way / I told them / I may change another day".  Then Faith, from the EP and also released before as a single.  It's one of her faves.  "I play cards with the Devil as he reached over my head /// You're so full of sorrow / we've both been suffering / Don't you tell me, darling / that you are losing faith / I'll tell you that / I believe in something / but it's not written down / anyway."  Personal stuff.  Then Small Town Alien, from his upcoming album.  First up, the King of Canberra; totally fictional!  About a public servant concerned about the "listening agency".  "I work in Woden / at the Dept of Expression / I'm not Ed Snowden / nor ... / 'cos the agency is listening / always listening ... Call me the King of Canberra / call me the King / it don't mean a thing".  Then into a little rap; funny. "I don't know if this song is anthemic / but I need it to distract from the pandemic".  Cool line and a interesting structure!  Then Heartbreak forever for the hopeless romantics, perhaps entitled Love kills.  "Too ... / Let's walk into heartbreak together / forever and ever / too rich, too poor / too...".  This guy is strummy and purposely nasal (I can talk?) but interesting in music and themes.  The name alone suggests a performance and a character and we get it.  I'm enjoying this.  Short snippets from a series of performers that I've mostly heard of but not heard.  Not always my scene, but always good to be aware of what's around.

Rebecca Mann (guitar, vocals) and Small Town Alien (guitar, vocals) performed for the Delta series.

04 November 2021

Honesty and French revelations

France is in the news recently, as is Covid, so a first Wesley post-lockdown concert of French piano music seemed so apt.  Stuart Long was playing solo piano on Poulenc, Satie, Ibert, Debussy and Chaminade and he's an Aussie and no liar so this was a wonderfully expressive outing and an eye/ear-opener for me.  I hadn't heard a whole concert of French music before, so it suddenly took on a new sense of investigation, playfulness, lightness, modernity with tradition.  So it was an education.  Now this fascinates me.  I've visited Paris and travelled in France, but my Australian experience is subtly coloured (by Anglo/Franco history, Henry IV Pt.1, French/US revolutions, Italo/Franco variations) and I always feel this is not a culture I really know.  So this was quite a revelation.  Stuart did a great job and has obvious love and respect for this music, treating it with gentleness and intimacy.  And being a return concert, this was doubly significant.  Too bad about our Pants on fire bad manners of late.  But nothing unexpected there.

Stuart Long (piano) played French music at Wesley.

03 November 2021

Canberra Cosmo Capital?

CJ's Belgian correspondent reporting.  Seeing we cannot experience the music scene in Belgium this year the next best thing was to check out what is happening locally.  Smiths Alternative has kicked off with an outdoor Spring series starting last weekend to help us all get out of the COVID lockdown blues.  The series is held under the new marquee on the pavement and can cater for 90 people under the current rules, no mask wearing, except when going inside.  Drinks and food however can be ordered from the window. Each session only costs $10 so inexpensive entertainment.  The series started on Saturday with The Burley Griffin. We only caught the last song as we were wandering around Civic from elsewhere, a great local band.  Decided to come again on Sunday to see the Brass Knuckle Band.  Now I must admit I can never keep up with who are the members of this group.  At least I did recognise Tom Fell on sax, what bands doesn’t he play in?  A great afternoon of music in the balmy weather.  A few tunes recognised but I blame the ales for not remembering them now.  Thanks Smiths and the musicians for helping us to open up again.

Pic and text by Neal Gowan

PPS / Ed.  It seems that the Smith's Spring series is now cancelled due to noise complaints ... for a quiet, early Saturday afternoon gig (2-4pm) of an unamplified New Orleans-style brass band.  Well, brass is noisy, but it's fun.  So much for Canberra Cosmopolitan Capital.  See the Facebook comments below.  Oh well, oh well, oh well.  Thanks Neal, even if it's a sad story to tell.  Not the first of those in CJ over the years.

PPS2 / Ed.  Rethink!  Well the series seems to be still on.  Probably inside.  Canberra reigns supreme ... sort of.  Good on ya, Smiths, Nigel, Beth.  Check out the Smiths Alt. Calendar online for the Spring Series.

02 November 2021

Delta IV

Tonight's selections are from the Old Canberra Inn.  Kim Yang first up, singer-songwriter playing live but with some background harmonies (maybe digital but I don't think so).  The guitar is strums.  The voice has echoes of Joni Mitchell, a great hero of mine and many.  First up, Fantasy, then Brave, themed good to be brave, but also OK to say no to people at times.  As her FB page says, balanced "delicately between vulnerability and power".  Sounds about right.  Then Moondog.  Ah, the blues!  Dirty guitar, 12-bars, moving beats, blues harp, percussion under every foot, dense reverb.  "I love the way you walk / I love the way you talk / got my eyes on you" ... "Early in the morning / can't remember one thing that I said / [but] got my eyes on you"  Great stuff.  Love it.  Takes me back to the Blues Club ... and, of course, the OCI over various incarnations.  And that slow blues "I'm a moondog, baby, can't you hear me when I howl /[rpt] / I can't wait any longer baby, I've got to have your love right now".  Is " vulnerability and power" the theme of the night?  If so these are two very difference expressions of it!

Kim Yang (vocals, guitar) and Moondog (vocals, guitar, blues harp, percussion) streamed for MusicACT's Delta sessions.

31 October 2021

Long time between drinks

It just a little warmup for our Maruki return.  This is my first classical group get-together post-Covid.  Tilt has met and the chatter and playing was a much enjoyed thing.  However, something more formal like an orchestra seems more postable.  But our lockdown is not fully complete so this was just strings for a half session.  Just a simple read on some Purcell and Holst.  The Brahms and Tchaikovsky are more challenging but delayed.

Maruki strings returned after Covid lockdown.

30 October 2021


ACT is perhaps the most Covid-vaccinated population in the world (as they are saying) so it's not unexpected that we'd be opening up, and we are.  My first outing to a music venue was for commendable locals, the Greg Stott Trio, at National Press Club.  They played standards and latins and perhaps pop in jazz styles (we heard Eleanor Rigby) and they were just inspirational!  Greg is fluid and swift and inventive; Mark is our local drum gem, stunning me with an open sounding solo of such exhilarating and intellectually satisfying polyrhythms as to drool over.  Bass was Chris Pound on electric.  Chris was once a star student but I haven't heard him for years.  He bio says he's played in USA, England, Poland, Cyprus and Ireland since graduating from ANUSOM in 2009 but obviously now returned to Canberra.  Again, neatly expressive and melodic in solos, not flashy but satisfying.  The lineup at NPC is always impressive and this trio nothing less.  It gets an extra mark given the lack of live playing for a while.  We just caught one set, but mature and capable and wonderfully sharp playing.  Not NYC but it may as well be.

Greg Stott (guitar) led his trio with Chris Pound (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums) at the National Press Club.

26 October 2021

Delta III

Tonight was Gang Gang's turn to invite some performers.  First up was Apricot Ink. Well known through TripleJ Unearthed and their single.  I looked up their site but couldn't track down names.  "Gus, Sara and Willo make up the 3-piece Alt-Pop project.  A motley crew of Canberrans who got together during ISO to make music."  They were a duo tonight: female vocals with guitar and male harmonies (mostly).  Nice harmony 5th below if I hear right.  The first song was Make believe; the second was Is it OK.  "Many made me mushroom pot / Take another tote, blow it out the window / It's a madhouse, it's a share house on the corner ...  Euphoria just around the corner / Is it OK, to be not OK".  Ah the memories!  Listening later on Spotify and it's very  nicely done in the recorded version.  Then Matty Ellis, a solo guitar singer, presumably song-writer.  He sang two songs, Indian Ocean and So far (I think I caught the track title).  Both songs of lost love (again, if I heard it right).  " I can't stay here in this place / I can't travel alone / There's a space in my heart ... forever / There's a space like the Indian Ocean".   Strums and an obvious Aussie-voice.  Then a second lockdown song: occasional falsetto; another love song?  "How could I know you'd let all this go".

Apricot Ink (female vocals, male vocals, guitar) and Matty Ellis (guitar, vocals) performed for Gang Gang Cafe on MusicACT's Delta streaming series.

22 October 2021

Better late than never

My apologies!  I watched Meatshell (Helen seemed to pronounce it "Meet-sha", presumably Euro or Scandi) at Earshift then missed the writeup.  So I watched again and here it is.  Strange, as it was one I was particularly hanging out for: lockdown can be my excuse.  Meatshell are a duo of sax and bass/voc, very much at the experimental end of the spectrum and very fascinating to my ears.  Helen's soprano vocals with purpose "there is nothing for me here outside ... now I sit and wonder why / I don't know it's over ... I'm losing my way-y-y-y).  Lovely twiched voice with flits up to end in the style of punk and Scandinavians, propulsive and so-solid grooves from bass or floating fills from sax or bass or beautifully apt and responsive sax melodies.  They started with two songs from their album Since subito, Lost and Growing (out of nothing); then a new song Old mind.  All slapped sax keys and drones and long vocal notes.  Deeply felt and expressed vocals with sympathetic sax lines and challenging, poignant effects.  A final song, Face, had Helen singing bass put down and even more challenging vocals.  Just stunning and ear-opening and challenging to many a comfortable habit.  I am seriously blown out!  Then the chat.  FWIW, they are a couple which may influence things.  Collaborative process?  No formal process, whatever works.  The duo came together new with the first album.  That only had one tune with vocals, so Helen's singing is new.  Now she loves the singing, even happy to put down the bass.  (I think it showed on Face).  Tunes may start with a riff or an idea, then a thought, like how many ways to say something.  Then plays with abstacting forms form an original state, pulling apart the puzzle and experimenting: to "decompose" (Wayne Shorter).  Plenty of extended techniques, multiphonics, quarter tones, articulations, slaps.  They have both studied extended techniques for Masters studies in overseas; Banff and NYC got mentioned; perhaps more in Europe or Scandinavia.  They mention the influence of European folk which they heard frequently overseas.  And finding things that blend and conflict, but intentionally, of the joy and unpredictability in combined sounds; unexpected but conscious.   This performance was not much rehearsed, to save freshness and prerecroded for lighting and presentation (and followed with a celebratory pizza).  Andrew spoke of the novelty of live-to-air balancing against presentation value and the product, so needed these days.  So an interesting discussion and just a stunning performance.  Hugely impressed and much intrigued.

Meatshell are Helen Svoboda (vocals, bass) and Andrew Saragossi (tenor).  They performed for Earshift Festival.

19 October 2021

Delta II

Tonight a few faves from The Basement.   Alec Randles with support from James Briguglio. He sang two original songs, singer songwriter on steel strung acoustic guitar with mate James on the Cajon.  Varied rhythms, nice, US-styled, perhaps Zep-lilted voice.  Nice.  Interesting lyrics with purpose (inequality, on the way down...?) then into different fills.  The songs were Judas and Peter.  Peter had got some air time on TripleJ.  Alec and James play together in Kopasetic, a local roots/folk band, but this was form Alec's solo project.  Then Jen Broadbent, another singer-songwriter, vocals and steel strung guitar.  She sang her two originals.  Disappear was her first ("Someday I'll disappear, don't know where, running barefoot, sure to meet you").  Nicely rich on reverb and steel strung guitar, then a new one, Driving with my blues ("I don't like to remember, the night I cried and cried...  I knew I'd be alone again....driving with my blues.")  Blues as we expect.  Nice piercing voice, sharp steely sounding guitar and solid strumming.  Effective!

Alec Randles (vocals, guitar) sang with James Briguglio (cahon).  Jen Broadbent (vocals, guitar) sang solo.  Both appeared for The Basement on MusicACT's Delta streaming series.

14 October 2021

Delta I

Son no.1 told me of another series of streaming music concerts, this time of local bands around Canberra in various styles, playing at places as diverse as Blackbird, Smiths and The Basement.  Not sure what to expect, but it's a nicely broad education in local music.  Day 1 was JEP and MissM.  JEP are locals, jazz trained, playing Blackbird, Molly and the like.  Even Lake Burley Griffin, at least for this outing.  Very nice, very smooth, Herbie Hancock-ian deep groove, jazz funk.  Capable melodic playing all around, tight and nicely internally responsive, minimalist structures with perhaps with unexpected twists or inserted odd bars.  Plenty of piano lines and synth pads out front but everyone gets a solo.  I loved this one.  And I'd love to know where the power came, down there by the lake near the Museum.  We might hear them collaborating with some Canberra vocalists next year: I can't wait for that.  The stream continued with two songs from MissM, presumably self-penned.  Piano, vocals, immediate and touching, alto voice and accompanying piano.  I should have listened to words to really make a judgment, but again nice and well presented.  Both these artists perform are Blackbird.  The Delta sessions are organised by MusicACT and streamed free at 6pm Mondays until 15 Nov.  Find links at MusicACT on Facebook.

JEP and MissM performed for the streamed Delta Sessions.  From ACT each Monday to 15 Nov.  JEP comprises Jamie Rea (keyboards), Evan Marshalsey (bass) and Peter Campion (drums).

This is CJBlog post no. 2,400.

11 October 2021

Final night then silence

The final night of the Earshift Festival featured The rest is silence.  They played several shorter tunes.  Spacey guitar, slow pensive melodies of alto perhaps with a parallel instrument, guitar or bass.  Spacious, floating, sparse. slow and thoughtful but not lethargic or leisurely and often of growing intensity.  Guitar, jangly and metallic tone, or fingerpicked, 4by4 chords, perhaps bowed bass.  Or bass pizz intro pattern, 6/4, fingerpicked guitar chords, sax intro unison melody with guitar.  Or guitar enters country-ish finger-picked chords, 4/4 with dotted feel, sax with pretty melody into unison with bass then heavy mallet drums and later a heavy slow rock rhythm.  Then my sound dropped out... Then I got sound on my phone...now the chat.  But first another short tune, Gesualdo written by Theo.  Again guitar finger picking in 4, nice melody, divergent drums, perhaps conflicting given his reputation for killing wives and children.  Then the chat of melancholy tunes and slow unfoldings.  They've played together since 2015 and it's a priority.  All members like singable, melodic themes so they start with melody which then may become unravelled over time.  As one said, simple then decomposed.  Only one tune has actually lyrics and they were written after the fact by a friend.  Perhaps "not a typical jazz group" given their subversion of the jazz approach, of virtuosity and solos.  They like collective improvisation, which is a jazz concept if quite old.  Songs are brought by individuals, not yet written collectively, then workshopped.  Initially they are mostly pretty bare.  Maddie brings the most developed pieces, most of which they never perform.  Livestreamed from a Brunswick band hall with mate Kyle on camera.  "Bit of a shambles, but it's a joyful shambles   No people in the room, but there's  still a performance focus".  They would welcome visitors and a live gig again. to "tap into energy of performance".  It was a satisfying, searching, intriguing outing.

The Rest is Silence comprises Flora Carbo (alto), Theo Carbo (guitar), Isaac Gunnoo (bass) and Maddison Carter (drums).  They performed for the final night of the online Earshift Festival 2021.

10 October 2021

Face to face

There's always music before the chat although this chat was different.  First the music.  Host Jeremy led his band with Steve Barry, Noel Mason and Alex Hirlian in a quite professionally prerecorded setting.  These are very good players and this was a very satisfying modern jazz outing.  A wonderful drums entry from Alex, into a plaintive tenor melody, then a response, all in an 8-feel, then stops and starts on  a bridge and an end head and into a tenor sax solo.  Nice, punctuated, syncopated bass, swapping 8-bar piano and sax solo passages, then into piano with long 8th note lines, sax triplet drops, driving, busy, then some concurrent soloing, busy drums and a fade to end.  Really nice, but not the topic of the chat.  Instead that was Jeremy and Zoe Haupmann, artistic director of SIMA, talking of various things: the effect of COVID on musos and clubs, the use of streamed concerts, the intimacy and centrality of playing live with others and to an audience, engagements with live streaming, prerecords and struggles with tech.  The fact that you don't have to leave home.  But as Zoe said, she'd done enough gardening and surfing.  They talked of coming albums, coming shows, coming bookings as musos and as venue.  Talking hopefully of audiences also dying to get out to hear music live and happy to give support to venues and players.  Noting that Melbourne and Wangaratta jazz festivals were cancelled this year while Europe and the US is picking up for shows and tours.  Zoe has bookings to record with Ian Moss and festival gigs booked for next year with Missy Higgins and Ian Moss.  She spoke of the joy of bookings being received; "good to have hope" despite multiple reschedules.  But also of fears of lost musos and venues.  And of the particular demands for early/mid career musos and their limited opportunities for networking.  That always there is "no substitute for that live experience" and how we've learnt these things through COVID.  I learnt that the old (not original!) Basement is now Mary's Underground.  The performative ritual of musos and the concert experience of sitting still without checking phone as a liberty, some thing special, a sense of community, as something spiritual.  These are special moments and aren't forgotten: a feeling, unique and rare, precious.  Reminiscing on old time gigs with hubby Evan.  "Can't wait [for gigs to return]"  said Zoe.  And this chat also launched of the Jeremy's Face to Face video series, but it was not much discussed.

Jeremy Rose (tenor) performed with Steve Barry (piano), Noel Mason (bass) and Alex Hirlian (drums) then chatted with Zoe Hauptmann (artistic director of SIMA, bass) for the Earshift Festival.

09 October 2021

Creating problems to solve

Scott Tinkler tonight for the Earshift Festival from Bruny Island.  Virtuosic playing, super-quick runs, from the top.  Challenging melodic statements of harmony.  Repetition, relations, snaps, staccato,  Then slow, muted lippy notes, querying rapid runs, thoughtful responses.  Overwhelming chops.  Blurted notes, staccatissimi, legato, all manner of tonguing.  And that blistering pace and the rests, the space to consider, to regroup.  Those lines, those fills, so precise and clear.  Glorious!  Alternating quarter notes, sixteenth runs, sixteenth note triplets, quite consistently.  This is day (?) of the Earshift Festival and the music has been and is great.  I am feeling Earshift could be our Sydney ECM to the world.  Not just wonderful and inventive playing but the album releases look great and sound like bells.  I am impressed as I work my way through the catalogue on Bandcamp.  Tonight's gig is no lethargic outing and my first words above make that clear.  The playing is only 10-15 mins per night and, as a fellow player, I find the comments just as intriguing.  Scott spoke of his approach to practice, to play what he wishes to play as a gig, not major or diminished scales but phrases with variation and development.  No preconceived ideas; just "be there and play".  Again Simon Barker was mentioned.  Play phrases; don't fill all the space (sounds Miles-ian).  Inverting the common fears of musos, "silence is tense; playing is comfy".  But despite the emphasis on improv and avoiding endless scalar practice, he did mention daily warm ups with various maintenance routines, too.  He plays brass, after all.  But always thinking harmonically and rhythmically; intuitively, not composed.  But also "you can't bring to the stage stuff you don't have ... that is what practice is for".  As for playing to the Net, prerecorded or live, there's a necessary learning curve and "this is better than nothing".  And a gem to finish: "Get out of stops and analysis, just play, create a problem and solve it, that's improv".  Says it all for an improvising player, really.

Scott Tinkler (trumpet) performed solo for the Earshift Festival.

08 October 2021

And TikTok

My listen was delayed by a busy evening, but I caught it next morning.  Kristen singing in her detailed, embellished, richly glissed, complex but so well-controlled voice accompanied by herself on piano.  She's a local (Carmila, Qld) but now distant, teaching at HSLU in Lucerne.  The magic of the Net in lockdown.  There were some amusing interruptions, like a promise of a better solo on the album.  She'd wanted a new song for this event, but it was only half finished.  The less amusing interruptions were technical despite a decent connection (tested on speedtest.net) so some disappointment.  But then I remember family calls to Italy as a kid, through an operator, quick and costly, so I can live with occasional problems with free international video.  (I don't think it's just that, but I'll blame a reactionary, politicised LNP for a throwback, yet expensive, $A55b+, NBN nonetheless!)  These tunes are all personal, individual, purposeful lyrics and matching feels.  This is politics of the personal.  One song was He was a loaded gun.  "High on the hill looking down on the common folk...never to blame".  Come to think of it, this sounds possibly political, if expressed more personally.  She spoke of recording with Sam Anning: strange, that, a duet from both ends of the frequency spectrum, of tech and live-streaming with Dan Tepfer and working with others and how ideas are generated and shared, and the essential nature of visual presence, rather than "It's all about the music".  She mentioned motionless curlews here, of some interest to my family!  Even of performing on TikTok during lockdown.  Now that's something to chase up!.  Some very capable singing from a winner of numerous singing awards.  One thing more, I hadn't realised she'd sung at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth games but little surprise there!  Oh, and TikTok.

Kristen Berardi (vocals, piano) performed for the Earshift Festival.

07 October 2021


Chloe Kim is an improvising drummer in Sydney, female, born in Seoul.  I wouldn't normally highlight it for mostly a muso is a muso, but Chloe makes an issue of supporting genders and nationalities in jazz (good on her!) and more importantly, she just sounds different.  She performed a short solo piece that wasn't so much virtuosic as melodic.  She explained its structure as in four parts, uke, uke and guitar, guitar alone, guitar and drumset.  She would use sticks on the stringed instruments, giving a sound wonderfully jangly and metallic.  It started with simple 4/4 taps on the uke, undemonstrative, naturally developed, into the most sweet, perfectly collapsing fills and intriguing polyrhythmic lines on snare without snare engaged and toms, not much kick that I remember.  All the time with an awareness that sounded Asian to my uneducated ears.  I could believe that, given her background, of course, and Simon Barker as her teacher, known for his exploration of Korean drumming.  She talked of her solo albums and solo gigs, of strict, planned, disciplined practice with metronome and repetition versus improv over minimalist structure in performance, of imitation as disrespectful of self and the respected.  This last intrigued me but the success in her playing seems evident: there's a personal presentation here, doubly so in solo drum gigs.  Solo drum gigs?  That's challenging and unusual and also revealing of her approach.  Otherwise, she'd prerecorded for this event and that was obviously necessary given her shared housing situation.  But she valued the lessons that this demanded of her.  It's relevant that she'll soon be drumming for a Chicago radio station.  There are new possibilities with these suddenly ubiquitous technologies.  So a fascinating drums outing and a intriguing discussion  Unpretentious but delicious in performance and relevatory in purpose.

Chloe Kim (drums) performed for the Earshift Festival.

06 October 2021


I can understand a bassist taking up another instrument.  Bass is so dependent on others; it's essential and powerful and a great provider of gigs, but supportive.  So we hear Cameron Undy, one of our excellent bassists out of Canberra now Sydney, doing a solo gig on guitar.  Another thing bass gives you is a sense of groove, rhythm, and this is greatly evident here.  Chords fairly simple, but an underlying African groove that defines the outing.  Cameron played through series of tunes.  I heard chordal plays, varying time signatures, moving accents and chords, sometimes complex, other times sitting on one or two chord vamps, perhaps with interposed beats, slow up to a new tune, in three, and so on.  Simple, inviting, meditative, unpretentious.  That's another aspect of the bass: it promotes unpretentiousness.  A lovely, honest outing.  But hearing his chat later, about post-grad studies of African music, of how African music is the earliest known source of music and how it's evident in so many cultures, esp. modern American, jazz, funk, soul, reggae, blues.  About the percussive, muted tones and diverse resonance and the instruments like marimba and mbira.  Then further on composition, the influence of maths and numbers and Buckminster Fuller and how he uses processes to make music, perhaps numbers and patterns, not needing to await that romantic inspiration.  How he'd done this with electronics, but returned to analog instruments after chats with Simon Barker.  All fascinating and revelatory.  How he writes in graphs, even.  More to explore here.  Given lighting, this was prerecorded, in a simple, ageing backyard with a pizza oven where he often plays with children and dog and guitar.  So a concert and chat both aurally satisfying and intellectually intriguing.  How I like it.  PS and FWIW, he played a short scale Marand acoustic guitar.

Cameron Undy (guitar) played in his backyard for the Earshift Festival

04 October 2021


Sean Foran was working some electronics but I just heard piano but that was so good there was nothing lost.  It was a wonderfully intricate and satisfying performance, an improvised mixtape of two tunes (Lynette and Petrochor) with various variations and interplays on the day, minimally planned and open to inspiration.  There was an early buildup, 16 feels, decay to quiet, a 10 feel, some delicious chordal movements moving into two chords in 9, then a floating end with hand plucks on piano strings.  Inspiration might have been hard, given he was playing to a camera in an empty room, but Sean said he preferred that to pre-recording of much the same thing.  There's an edge when you can't redo it, when it's going out as it's played.  As for those electronics, he fiddled them occasionally but I didn't hear them, despite listening on some decent gear.  Maybe they were there in the background, very subtle.  Dunno.  One was a synth; the other a sampler/delay.  But I was transfixed none-the-less.  Host Jeremy suggested influences of Meldau and Keith Jarrett and Sean agreed but they would be influences for any pianist.  He specifically mentioned his teacher in the UK who records on ECM, John Taylor.  Electronics or not, this was up my alley and I was deeply satisfied.

Sean Foran (piano) performed for the Earshift Festival.