31 March 2021


Partly jokingly, the Crivelli was the one I went to see.  We went to the National Gallery today for its latest blockbuster, Botticelli to Van Gogh.  It's a selection of 61 paintings from the National Gallery in London.  It had been in Japan for the Olympics-or-not and now in Canberra for several months.  See it.  Yes, it's a blockbuster and has lots of famous names and those sunflowers.  But they really are famous names and many are works that get into books and it wasn't really so busy.  It's a wonder to have a renowned Rembrandt self-portrait to yourself, even if they pop up all over the place (including Melbourne) but this was a particularly special one.  I was entranced.  Then the Botticelli: too many people around that and my eyes weren't really op to the smaller details, so it got cursory treatment.  We were rushing anyway, to some degree, given the RAAF "Spectacular Aircraft Flypast" over the lake.  Plenty of people there, too, and some expensive machinery, if only in passing.  But people didn't seem so overwhelmed by that one, despite the noisy FA-18s F35s and even the precision piloting of the Roulettes.  Not something you see often but strangely mundane for what must have been such an expensive performance.  But the art was also spectacularly expensive, no doubt, even if some guidance was done by London over Zoom or other.  I missed that there were no earlier works, pre Renaissance, Mediaeval.  The earliest was probably Crivelli with its themed gherkin and apple.  Then on through Dutch and English homely paintings and the Grand tour.  For my amusement there was a Canaletto of Eton Collage (!), all huge chapel in field surrounded by towers and low rise.  Then Castel Sant'Angelo with vista we know but with river banks.  It was only 1760: not that long ago.  And similarly clothes hanging in Piazza San Marco.  There are none there now; only hugely expensive cafes.  Then on through Spanish works and to Impressionists and the end.  With some seriously big names and just a few I didn't recognise.  Not always their most known works, but significant and intriguing.  Not quite London (Virgin of the rocks, Arnolfini portrait, Venus and Mars) but it's here.  Concerning Crivelli, I think I could see more detail in a high res download on the Net, but it's not the same.  It was big and that surprised me.  And that that Rembrandt that took my breathe away.  And a few others too.  See it before you go blind!

Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London, is a worthy blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia.   The RAAF Centenary Flypast occured over Lake Burley Griffin.

28 March 2021

Another weekend

This weekend it was a concert with Musica da Camera, my string orchestra.  You may expect Bach and Mozart from a string orchestra and that's great (I love playing them) but this was a rather different outing for players and for audience.  The most comfortable (in musical, if not in social terms) was La Calinda, a song sung by slaves at the wedding of Koanga and Palmyra in Florida in Delius' opera Koanga.  This was informed by Delius' time in 1884/5 in an orange plantation where he was much influenced by African American music.  Next was Bridge Suite for string orchestra, a neo-classical piece in four movements.  This was written in 1908 before the pacifist Bridge's trauma from WW1.  Third up was by Yasushi Akutagawa Triptyque for string orchestra.  YA was Japanese, strongly influenced by the Russians, especially Prokofiev, and was involved the then musical exchange between then USSR and Japan.  And to end, a driving minimalist piece Wojciech Kilar Orawa.  Orawa is a river and region between Poland and Slovakia.  The piece pictures the river flowing over rocks and through landscapes.  This one was fun, with four-to-the-floor 8s against 7s in two movements and a final "Hey" shouted by the orchestra.  Hip and modern.  Now this was a challenge for various ears, not least Rosemary who arranged at least one piece from a piano score.  There were some tricky spots and lines that were quite perverse and unexpected (counting is de rigeur in this world) but great fun and well received from a fairly limited Covid audience.  Thanks to Rosemary and all for an intriguing program and some satisfying playing.

 Musica da Camera performed Delius, Bridge, Akutagawa and Kilar in Cook.  Rosemary McPhail (conductor) directed and Jocelyn James (violin) led the firsts.

22 March 2021

Music is a hard task-master

But it can be fun!  Tilt was in the studio again.  It's entertaining but demanding.  We last recorded for a Friday Night Live session and it felt a little more comfortable this time around.  It was the same ArtSound studio but this time we didn't need to think of an audience, at least not immediate.  Here we could have a few gos, chat between, be a little adventurous, even indulgent, for a few hours.  Our tunes were all originals by James, other than a few individual and group improvs.  We'll see if something comes out of it.  BTW, for any muso who wants a recording outing, there's a recently tuned Yamaha grand just waiting with some nice gear in a nice space.  Thanks to Chris and Liam for doing their parts.

Tilt recorded at ArtSound FM's studio.  Tilt are James Woodman (piano), Dave McDade (drums) and Eric Pozza (bass).  Managing mics and decks were variously Chris Deacon and Liam O'Connell.

21 March 2021

Tasks mastered

The old Trident Jazz Trio was resident at Trident Bar in Dickson for years, from 2000 or thereabouts.  It was nice that Chris had checked out CJ to determine when they started the residency, but it predated my site (b.2005) by several years.  Whatever, it was a wonderful Tuesday night scene with some excellent sets and renowned visitors.  We heard that core group again at the Austrian Club the other night and they were a revelation.  I could only gasp at James' bass playing, on 5 string JB fretless: melodic, fast but only when called for, otherwise wonderfully relaxed and searching.  Lots of finger work, as in harmonics and chords and long intervallic pairs, thirteenths and the like, and edgy attacks.  And plenty of effects, deep octavers and the rest.  Just a lesson for a bassist.  And Lachlan with his clear guitar, blistering lines and especially his intriguing and leading chords.  He also provided the one original for the night, but said he tends not to play them even though he writes plenty.  Interesting.  And Chris with a most edgy polyrythmic experiments, solos that a sparse and astute, then mixed with African shakers and soft noise.  His kick drum, too, was deep, not fluffy but loose.  And that tom that sat above, thin as.  Fascinating.  These are the choices we make that make our musical character.  They played a string of jazz tunes but you wouldn't know it until a snippet of melody appeared from amongst the grooves or beats or colours.  This is jazz brought to the nightclub-now satisfying both art and night out.  Just an awesome outing and a muse for this muso.

Trident Jazz Trio are Lachlan Coventry (guitar), James Luke (bass) and Chris Thwaite (drums).  They played at the Austrian Club.

17 March 2021

Demo muso

Well, there was some music to report.  It preceded the Women's march as a lead in.  First up was a set with grunge rock band Matriarch.  I was mightily amused by their byline and couldn't resist the listen "...four 'mature' women who should know better. Matriarch have arcane knowledge on living a life of regrets, ageing disgracefully and not giving a f***. Come get enlightened."  They played nicely rocky numbers with social themes and not always too softly spoken.  Titles like: Sucks to be a girl; Messy house; Mansplain; Four mature women who should know better; Too much oil.  A band with themes and attitude; rock guitars and pushy vox and thumpy drums.  Great.  I liked it.  And just before the women's march, Monica Moore singing the feminist classic, Helen Reddy's I am woman, with guitar accompaniment.  That got some cheers!  And one last song, a solo Aboriginal voice singing a short but haunting piece passed down through generations of women.  Sadly, I missed her name.

Matriarch are Ana Key (vocals, guitar), Glenda Harvey (guitar), Lee Grunwald (bass) and Leanne Thompson (drums).  Monica Moore (vocals) sang I am woman accompanied by acoustic guitar.  They sang outside Parliament House for the Women's March4Justice.

16 March 2021

Again a demo duo

You have to hand it to the LNP Howard and post- that they offer plenty of opportunities to protest.  It's strange when they actively do so little (think ScoMo's winning but scant policies for the last election).  Hopefully our voting public is putting 2-and-2 together but I don't have great faith.  How do they do it?  Stay stubborn, refuse to budge; let issues pass over with a 24-hour news turnover; blame others, training the public to see both sides as the same.  With a little help to and from various friends.  Issues?  Women and secret trials are those today, meaning this 24-hour cycle, but there are others: climate-coal-gas, refugees, reconciliation, water.  Or the sheer incompetence despite claims of superior economic management: NBN, subs, EVs, renewables.  Or wayward ways which are increasingly frequent and ignored: sports rorts; water rights, GBRF; Manila; the Clover Moore fake doc; $2k per month Internet; French and Italian Au pairs.  And the endless secrecy: on-water matters; national security; Commercial in confidence.  Even non-legality: Robodebt.  The list goes on.  And everything a tax, or every job needs saving, except when it's not what their mates want, then they can be mashed.  Oh, I get angry, so I need to do something, so I go to demos, FWIW.  Two this day: Assange and Women.  It can be satisfying, if frustrating; hope-laden, if unlikely to bring change.  I despair on climate, anyway, so I fully expect existential dangers just around the corner.  No not next week (if you ignore fires or drought or floods or storms or lost GBR that are with us now, but those we can, partly, recover from ... for now) but unrecoverable within decades or a few centuries.  You don't win an argument with physics, but our stubborn government is doing its darndest.  Silly, short-termist and woefully unethical.  Even exporting our climate heroes (?) to the OECD (oh, what of his new words of climate commitment?  I say "know them by their actions, not by their words").  But at least with a day of demos we can gather in hope for a while, sometimes, and this government offers us many reasons to demonstrate.

The Assange demo was small and grey and much the same crew spoke as last time, and as cogently as last time.  Bernard Collaery (himself subject to a questionable and largely secret trial) touched me with a lament on a country changed since his youth asking "what country will Julian return to?".  As for the Women's March4 Justice, it was big and impressive and black (people were asked to wear black) and angry and had some great posters.  ScoMo may ignore Collaery/Assange but I feel this is a much closer and bigger danger for him.  The question is, will his deceptive lightweight PR-spin still work.  My guess is the public is starting to see through it.  But maybe I'm wrong.  We'll see.

HomeRun4JulianAssange and Women's March4Justice were staged at Parliament House, for the first day of the new session of Parliament.

15 March 2021

Finding the lost year

Finding the lost year was the theme, and title, of the Maruki Covid-return concert of last Sunday.  Still Albert Hall.  Still much the same repertoire as we expected to play before the arrival of Covid scotched music in Canberra.  Strangely, despite the time we've had it, it was a difficult concert.  The concerto was changed (the other to reappear in a few months) due to lack of a ready pair of clarinets.  It was replaced by Sibelius Violin concerto played by our ex-LSO master and musical director, John Gould, but it was a strange and fluid thing which challenged us no end.  It's described as a concerto for violin and orchestra, so presumably orchestral parts have their own expression.  Whatever, it's strangely indefinite at times and the parts are oddly unrelatable at other times.  Not that it's unpleasant, but it's willowy or liquid and thus a challenge.  Otherwise, we played a world premier from Alan Hinde, a symphonic poem called In search of lost land which portrays an ocean voyage of discovery with considerable wave-like clarity.  Nice one!  Also Beethoven Egmont overture.  Beethoven is always a winner.  And Schumann Symphony no4 Dmin, the earlier version from 1841.  This had its demands, but ended hugely with exhilaration so a great pleasure to play.  From a jazz POV, I was amused by a pizz bass line that drove the orchestra, in every way a walking bass line.  I could only feel at home in that part.  Even if we are returned, it remains Covid time with a limitation on numbers (thus an easy full house!) and various other demands and no afternoon tea.  But it was fun and demanding, as Maruki outings are.  Maruki doesn't shirk on its programs and this is just one clear example.  Next concert is Beethoven Symphony no.7 (!) and that missing Krommer Double clarinet concerto and Mussorgsky Pictures at an exhibition.  Just a another normal program for this community orchestra! 

Maruki Orchestra performed Beethoven, Hinde, Sibelius and Schumann at Albert Hall under John Gould (conductor).  For the violin concerto, Jennifer Groom (conductor) led and  John Gould (violin) soloed.  Alan Hinde (composer) provided the world premiere.

13 March 2021

And for something a little different

Strange at this time of life, but I'm discovering the DJ.  It didn't exist in my youth.  Zep and Yes were the coolest thing and Hendrix had died.  But time changes.  I remember enjoying Madison Avenue twenty years ago (Who the hell are you, Don't call me baby: early EDM Third wave feminism?).  But a wedding needs a dance set and a jazz trio just doesn't cut it and it's actually quite fun and fairly demanding and the groove is all.  So the DJ.  Thus I caught Ross at Queenie at Kingston the other night with a nice funky set and genuine vinyls for the tunes and the scratching.  Ross had played in Dubba Rukki in the past.  I enjoyed the chat.  It's not a task like jazz: no sets (perhaps still swigs of beer between tunes) but ongoing danceable groove for the whole evening.  Maybe it's another thing in the big dance world of festivals and Ibiza.  But nicely done and some very cool and funky tunez.

Ross Garrett (DJ, once DJ D'Opus) appeared at Queenie in Kingston on Friday night.

PS.  The pic is not Ross' desk!  His is far more sophisticated.

07 March 2021

Quality and quantity

I'll put it down to a matter of quality and quantity.  I am wont to feel the width, but my recent CJ posts have been infrequent after a total blowout at the last (classical bass) concert.  But John Mackey's Melting Pot playing his Wave Length suite was fitting as another blowout.  It was fabulous and I was in awe.  John had described it as an improvised series of movements based on skeletal scores and influenced by Covid. I heard a series of tunes with rock-based grooves (think '70s Miles) and nicely twisted heads with plenty of space for blows.  There were some floating segments, perhaps with electronics or glorious piano chords from Wayne, some ecstatic outbursts from Greg and wonderfully and reliably tuneful, melodic statements from the front line of John and Miro.  They can both explode with a flourish but openly spell melody and play with various degrees of dissonance at will, and that interplay can be blissful.  Miro's harmonising to John can be a thing of great beauty.  And they both played with an octaver or harmoniser to sound all the world like synths.  And there was electronics there, too, with Mark standing at a bench of electronics, perhaps a keyboard (not sure) but definitely a laptop with looping and more (probably Ableton, I guess).  Mostly it was lost to the audience but between tunes and in some floating segments, it was evident.  Greg had a laptop, too, but not sure how it was used.  He had a string of pedals at his feet, so not just for effects.  And the core of the rhythm section was Lachlan on his Bass 6, that unusual 6-string bass that I remember as a remnant from the '60s.  He plays with thumb-pick and finger-picking for some fabulously embellished rhythmic grooves and extensive solos.  It's a different, virtuosic approach to bass, both grooving and thrilling at once.  And Mark, Sir Mark of the late intros, just a gem with the most supple stick control creating glorious, sweet tone and endless insistent driving grooves with nothing out of place, no embellishment ever indulgent, just perfect, never erring.  Mark was way on top in the mix that I found not quite as I'd expect, with Greg somewhat lost or indistinct, as too was Lachlan (but bass is hard to clarify), as even were John and Miro although Wayne seemed to be there, crisp on grand piano, when I turned my ear to him.  Perhaps a function of where I was seated?  But I quibble.  I enjoyed this concert deeply, the playing was outstanding, the heads were a great pleasure and there was joy and even some fun, and that glorious snare-on-3 drumming throughout.  So, quality or quantity?  At least for my last few CJ outings, the call is outlandish quality!  BTW, I chatted with Mark and Greg after and suggested a release from this session.  I just hope it was recorded as multitrack.

John Mackey's Melting Pot played the world premiere of his Wave Lengths suite.  The performers were John Mackey (tenor, soprano sax), Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet, flugelhorn), Greg Stott (guitar), Wayne Kelly (piano, keys), Lachlan Coventry (bass), Mark Sutton (drums) and Mark Webber (laptop).

PS.  Thanks to Abbey Mackay Budge of the Creswick Collective and Caroline Stacey of the Street Theatre for the pic.