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.

03 October 2021

Storms of my grandparents

Day 2 of Earshift was Hilary Geddes.  She's a guitarist and composer, now based in Sydney.  Her performance was one of her tunes, When waves move backwards.  It started with soundscapes of tapped strings, then into finger picked arpeggiated chordal passages moving into melody over chords, then gradually more staccato.  She's influenced by that doyen of contemporary guitarists of this style, Bill Frisell.  Host Jeremy mentioned it seemed an evocation of nature or of driving the Australian landscape (which she would have done often enough, originating in Griffith).  She'd written for a small group but was interested in translating to larger groups. Obviously this was not one.  It's actually a work in 3 movements referring to a real experience of a storm while she was camping with her grandmother.  I could understand: our last camping outing ended with a storm that ripped tents and tarps and they were never replaced.  It must be a common-enough experience.  So, meditative guitar with a story for day 2.  Nice.

Hilary Geddes (guitar) performed for the streamed Earshift Festival.

02 October 2021

Two eyes, two ears

The Earshift Festival started tonight with Reuben Lewis.  Strangely it conflicted, to the minute, with Sally Greenaway's launch for her latest classical composition/single.  I did manage to catch both, just.  Neither had masses of music, which was an advantage.  I'd caught Sally's tune a few hours earlier on YouTube and it's up for more uninterrupted consideration for 72 hours, so that's to come.  As I write this, it seems that Reuben is still available to replay, so that will definitely be a revisit.  And the Earshift Fest will be around for the next 10 days and I hope to catch it all, or maybe just most.  Sally's was a composition for a chamber group comprising CSO players with spectacular technique playing an exploding latin-styled piece sounding all the world of Piazzola.  It was inspired by the Rio Olympics and explores human achievement, complete with a "mad dash to the finish line".  Drivingly rhythmic, latin melodicism and some great playing.  Loved this one.  Reuben was a huge treat too, but in a massively different way.  I must admit I was taken by the jazz chops and the tech presence of it all.  He played three parts, improvised, with his two doppelgangers appearing behind him: laying down pads on a Prophet 6 synth, on a laptop with Ableton toying with recorded snippets of drums and bass from his band, I hold the lion's paw (this last/second album has just won huge plaudits and national awards), and up front on trumpet with a deskful of effects as the third layer.  He played some startling licks on trumpet, so despite his clear love of the electonics, his more traditional skills were hugely satisfying.  But overall, a triumph.  I can have a personal preference, but that's just a measure of my current interests.  These were two very different streams of two very different musics and cultural awarenesses and I'll happily download a copy of each.  So that's my judgement.  A difficult but hugely satisfying half hour or so with demands for a revisit.

Sally Greenaway presented her latest single composition, Don’t Forget Your Music!  Reuben Lewis appeared as the opening concert of the streamed Earshift Festival, held in association with SIMA.