30 June 2022

One big family

They can't be the first to have done it, but it was an interesting combination of musics.  This was ACO (Australian Chamber Orchestra) performing various works from or influenced by the Dach dynasty.  I knew JSB had a string of kids but I didn't know of his third cousin (Johann Ludwig) or his great uncle (Heinrich).  But ACO presented them, plus some influenced by the influencer/s, Schumann and Mozart and Sofia Bubaidulina.  And not just instrumentals and fugues, but there was a mezzo soprano, Anna Dowsley, for  a ciaconne and arias.  There was a third aria but not presented here in Canberra, and Heinrich was on the program but I don't think we heard him.  Not too sure.   The program had a string of shorter works so a little confusing although varied but we did also get a few longer things, especially JS Concerto for two violins in Dmin BWV1043 (which I know as I did a midi take for a The Pots album) and Cello concerto Amaj Wq172.  The interplay of violins was attractive, trying to identify which Strad was which (a game at ACO concerts given their classy instruments collection) and some blistering cello lines in Timo-Veikko's part.  As always, classy and showy, well presented and well received.  Our genuine Aussie internationals.  I was wondering about the tuning and strings.  The bass bow was obviously pointy baroque.  The others looked pretty standard classical, but I guess they were too, and I guess that also means gut.  Eric Heldyard was called in, too, playing harpsichord but also a very period-sounding keyboard in the Andante movement of Mozart Piano concerto no.12 Amaj K414.  It could get a little lost in such a big space, but it made you listen.  As always, nicely done by a fairly reduced ACO (2xvln1, 2xvln2, 2xvla, 2xclo, bass, harpsichord/fortepiano, bassoon, mezzo soprano).  I may sound dismissive, but these guys are good and always provide a great performance and strange how we just come to expect it.  That's the way with the best, I guess, on a big stage pretty far away.

Australian Chamber Orchestra played played music of the Bach family and some admirers at Llewellyn. 

29 June 2022


Big days out don't end too soon.  The dessert for this day was to sit in with Forrest National Chamber Orchestra at St Paul's, Manuka.  It's a favourite venue with favourite company.  I got the invitation a few weeks before and only managed two rehearsals on the two days before the gig.  Amusingly, I responded to the invitation mentioning our NCO gig on the same day, but Gill had the answer: a concert at 6pm after one a 3pm.  Possible if not too relaxed!  Same for the Friday rehearsals, wedged together.   But I read and listened to the works and hoped for the best.  One main work was a Handel organ concerto.  Amusingly or otherwise, at the Thursday rehearsal we learnt of the organist getting Covid and two replacement pieces, Sibelius and Bach.  Brandenburg 3 no less, well known and scalar but quick.  That with a hand-written baroque chart form Vivaldi that got a replacement on the night.  All pretty topsy turvy but I was pleased by my playing and that of the group, especially the cellos who I work with as the sole bass.  So, the dessert at the end of a big day worked well and I was ready for a beer when I got home that night.  A memorable day!

Gillian Bailey-Graham (conductor) directed Forrest National Chamber Orchestra playing Sibelius, Vivaldi, Sarasate, Bach and Borodin at St Paul's, Manuka.  The pic is FNCO in rehearsal, of course.

28 June 2022

Big day out

This was a big day, the annual concert by National Capital Orchestra with Canberra Choral Society in Llewellyn.  I dream of this day.  I get this massive grin as the voices ring out, the solo vocalists solo up front, the sound of the orchestra rings in this classy acoustic.  The audience may not quite look it, but you feel professional here.  Great lighting, this time the big e-organ, the stage managing and risers and the rest, always those voices.  This year was Rossini Petite messe solonnelle.  He'd become famous and rich and mostly retired from music, but later he wrote this work.  It's not Brahms or Mozart and it has some lightheartedness and melodrama from the Italian operatic scene, but it's also got some nice lines, a few involving fugues, a few but not too many challenges. At least for the bass, which is how I measure it.  Some players were a bit unflattering but I liked a few parts a lot and those voices were right behind me.  The basses were a line of five behind woodwinds and in front of 3 rows of choir.  We liked this.  We could see well, be part of the sound and project well into both the orchestra and the audience.  We got several supportive comments on our location, especially from violins, usually across stage from us, and given the foundational role of the bass, I reckon this could only be for the better.  From my part, I hugely enjoyed the performance, satisfied that my mistakes were mostly in rehearsal, as it usually is and as it should be.  Conductor Louis was a great pleasure in rehearsal and in performance.  We even got a mention on ABC Classic FM in the morning.  What more could you ask?  A fabulous outing and I judge a very worthy one.  But this was a big day and more to come...

National Capital Orchestra teamed with Canberra Choral Society to perform Rossini Petite messes solonnelle in Llewellyn Hall.  Louis Sharpe (conductor) led with Dan Walker (chorus master, tenor) and soloists Sarahlouise Owens (soprano), Sonia Anfiloff (alto), Ryan O'Donnell (tenor) and Hayden Barrington (baritone).   And five double basses.  

  • Thanks to the indefatigable Peter Hislop for this and all the rest of his pics.

27 June 2022

Bach or another

I was expecting one Bach and got another, a Prelude and fugue instead of a Toccata in fugue, both Dmin.  But Bach is always OK and this was one the Wesley organ with a visitor from Albury (I have connections locally) and diplomas from London and this was my nice little Organ recital series from the RSCM (Royal Society of Church Music (ACT Branch) tht takes me around the various organs in Canberra and the program with satisfying if not with the expected Bach.  So I remained perfectly happy.  Satisfying but very obscure: Dandrieu, Darke, Vierne, Bedad, Peeters, Twist and Widor.  I recognised a few names, but only a few.  Nonetheless, the playing was very capable and the music was another apt outing for an afternoon recital.  Much enjoyed. 

James Flores (organ) performed at Wesley Church for the RSCM (ACT).

26 June 2022

Dreams of travels

There was some very satisfying playing, of course, on organ and piano, so similar and yet so different.  This was Linus Lee playing in the church at Wesley.  The title of the concert was also its theme, Tunes from faraway, varied in source and culture, but related in the pleasantness and joy of the music.  I mentioned joy lots when I was reporting on the OWJF.  Some bands just had that sense of entertainment, others were heavier, maybe more serious, but I doubt it.  As for chops, they were all to perfectly capable.  So it's not ability or conviction that associates with joy or even serious intent.  Maybe it's just these difficult times that prompt me to hear joy and I did here, too, with Linus.  He talked of programming for a lunchtime concert, and that's also part of it.  So we got Ballet Egyptien by a Frenchman with an Italian name, a Persian market by Ketelbey and later Mussorgsky and the national dance of Ukraine (a Russian writing Ukrainian song; again a marker, or not, of the times).  Those were all on organ.  On piano we had American Edward MacDowell and 5 forgotten fairy tales and Granados Capricho Espanol (Spanish writes Spanish) and Coleridge-Taylor Danse Negre (an Englishman in Africa and possibly spurned these days).  The organ was its soft and deep and full self and the piano punchy and percussive and loud.  But in all, an entertaining and fascinating concert played really nicely.  Thanks to Linus.

Linus Lee (organ, piano) performed for a Wesley Music Centre lunchtime concert.

25 June 2022

Old country

Yeah, they were at our National Portrait Gallery but they were from the NPG in London.  Covid has been an excuse to close a string of galleries in London and we've got access to some of their treasures.  Some are names unknown to me, but not many.  Britain is not my background but it is in our national cultural history, Henry VIII and Q Eliz and Q Vic and the rest.  Some were much more relevant to us, although others were somewhat colonial in connection.  I had to ask Megan about a few princes and the like, not knowing my royal history too well.  Of course we got Shakespeare and Newton and Banks, all worthy.  And Churchill, of course, but Conrad Hall and Arthur Wellesley and Thomas Howard?  Excuse my ignorance.  I was interested to see visages of Henry James and Dickens and William Morris and the Bronte sisters and even Beatrix Potter.  I enjoyed the small but life-like statue of Tim Berners-Lee and Karl Friedrich Abel was a renowned viola da gamba player painted by Gainsborough so he fits here.  I loved a few neo-classical pieces, of Anne Hyde and her royal lover and Mary Neville and her son, but I walked easily by some modern pieces, simple as they were, Anna Wintour and Joan Collins and Ed Sheeren and some others.  I was taken by some photos.  For over 150 years the photo has been the key record of people.  The pics of the Beatles and Mick Jagger were both at age 21 or so.  So young!  Mick looks worldly, but even after years in Hamburg, the Beatles really don't, and yet they would change the world in just a few years.  But perhaps the most stunning for me, of the whole exhibition, was Elizabeth Taylor, mature and gorgeous, aged ... 14-or-so.  I was floored as were those standing with us.  I guess the era of National Velvet?  Stunning.  So an interesting outing thanks to London and two NPGs.  

Shakespeare to Winehouse was an exhibition of portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, London, displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.  Check out the website at NPG London for the full collection and images.  I would have included pics of Liz Taylor, Beatles, Mick J, perhaps others, but I can't be bothered chasing up copyright releases.  Such are modern IP  rights.

S to W website

This is CJBlog post no. 2,500

24 June 2022

Finally Lizzy

Lizzy Collier is a really nice local bassist and music teacher and she was to direct Musica da Camera last year but came down with an injury and her concert and program was covered.  Finally, we got to play with her, just last Saturday, more than 6-months late.  The main work on the program with Suk Serenade, a work of 30 mins and four movements and some demanding passages, quiet and evocative and just seat of pants stuff.  We got through it, if not at release level.  The other works were quite meditative, FS Kelly with a WW1 elegy, Finzi with a romance, Schoenberg with a Notturno from early in his career and a more bouncy take on Greensleeves by Vaughan Williams.  We were joined by harp for a few tunes.   I love this fascinating process of discovering directors / conductors, learning their personalities and preferences and modes of musical and other communication.  Lizzy was wonderfully direct and clear, not always a feature of a conductor.  So, a touching and well led outing from Lizzy with MdCC.

Musica da Camera Canberra performed Suk, FS Kelly, Finzi, Schoenberg and Vaughan Williams under Lizzy Collier (director) with guest Elizabeth Alford (harp).

23 June 2022

French olives

My last Wesley concert was before the OWJF and it was a beauty, not least for the unusual combination: violin, oboe, harp.  That clear, plucky, nylon sound of harp with the sustained sound of violin and that serpentine oboe tone.  Really delightful, but a buggar to source music.  The group is the Olive Trio and they are locals, all playing in Canberra Symphony and frequent performers are Wesley and otherwise.  They had a piece written by our local Sally Greenaway and arranged for them by Sally.  Also Debussy and Gaubert, mostly arranged for this format.  The French music suited the group well.  And an fellow student of violinist Lucy had written a piece specifically for them when he heard of the combination.  I could easily understand that; that was a world premiere.  Suffice to say they are all competent players so this was a slightly unusual but very much welcomed concert.  Lovely stuff.

The Olive Trio performed at Wesley Music Centre.  Olive Trio comprises Rowan Phemister (harp), Zoë Loxley Slump (oboe ) and Lucy Macourt (violin).

22 June 2022


I went off to the Baptist Church and got something somewhat at the other end of the spectrum, Ray Beadle trio.  This was blues guitar (the goldtop Les Paul was fitting) with keys and drums.  Ray sang occasionally.  This was very professional, neat, not overly adventurous, entertaining. 

Then probably the find of the night, Virna Sanzone with Phil Stack.  It takes chops for both artists to carry this out effectively, just vocals and double bass.  I was entranced with some great singing, professional mic control, great songs and telling lyrics.  And that bass playing.  Phil was adventurous, out on a limb, sometimes not quite finding what he was seeking, but absolutely committed, hugely fluent and dynamic.  This was a joyous and awesome find.  Did they mention it, or did I think it: jazz adjacent.  So true.  Tunes by Leon Russell and latins and Around midnight.  Loved this one.

Big day; getting to the end, but after finding the pub and some company, I would miss it.  To end, I was back to the Lord Anson for Cope Street Parade.  Now, how apt is a jazz festival finishing with its history, New Orleans, Everything you do, Bourbon Street Parade, Nat King Cole, When I get too old to dream, 2 feels all round.  Great stuff nicely played.  I left passing the musos corner at the pub noticing bassists together.  Also an apt finish to a festival.

So how was the festival?  Some great playing.  Opportunities to catch all manner of styles and players, some of Sydney's jazz luminaries and upcomers, all worthy to fabulous, all together in time and space.  Not at all surprising given SIMA's involvement.  I think the town was happy, too, and I know it's due back next year.  Queen's Birthday weekend, 2023.  Keep it in mind and bring your warm jackets.

Ray Beadle, Virna Sansone and Phil Stack and Cope Street Parade played at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival.  Ray Beadle (guitar, vocals) played with Clayton Doley (keys) and Andrew Dickeson (drums).  Virna Sanzone (vocals) sang with Phil Stack (bass).  Cope Street Parade comprised Justin Fermino (saxophones, vocals), Aaron Flower (guitar, vocals), Ben Panucci (guitar, vocals) and Sam Dobson (bass, vocals).

21 June 2022


Emma Pask was a big name in the big room, the Holy Trinity Church.  Nice singing of standards and musical theatre songs, Here there and everywhere, They say it's wonderful and the like.  Classy and popular, if not so much for a more adventurous audience.  No names of accompanists in the program, but she played with piano, Phil Stack (bass) and drums.

Then some locals for this Canberran, the ANU School of Music Recording Ensemble.  Before its "restructure", the School once had a Commercial Ensemble, a Recording Ensemble and a Big Band and they played for the public regularly.  Miro ran the Recording Ensemble.  Members would write material then perform it.  The approach is the same but with John Mackey as leader/director.  This was a hot band, perhaps too hot and racing at times, too excitable, but seriously impressive playing and complex interesting tunes.  Apparently they will be recording and touring in future.  I was impressed.  Again no names in the program but working with John Mackey.

Then another quick visit to the Vampires.  I was wondering if they were that much more confident than the previous night.  I missed the start and couldn't tell, but again, I love these tunes and these grooves.

Then another big name, again in the unbalanced Holy Trinity Church, was Asteroid Ecosystem.  Now this was interesting.  They had visited Canberra and I'd missed them so they were one  reason for attendance at this festival.  It's an odd combination and apparently one that came out of a recording.  Ed Kuepper was the lead guitarist of The Saints and other post-punk and grunge groups; not jazz.  Alister explained that he'd recorded a string of albums with guests, the Alister Spence trio was one and thus this band.  Well, what was it?  A strange mix of improv set to charts and eclectic guitaristic tones and various noise and grooves and bass lines.  I didn't think the venue's acoustics did it justice and after how many bands in two days I wasn't up to it.  But there were some seriously good players here.

Emma Pask, ANU School of Music Recording Ensemble, The Vampires and Asteroid Ecosystem played at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival.  Emma Pask had Phil Stack on bass.  Asteroid Ecosystem comprised Alister Spence (piano), Lloyd Swanton (bass), Toby Hall (drums) and Ed Kuepper (guitar, electronics).

20 June 2022


Then old friends Wanderlust.  Now this was amusing as well as inviting and attractive.  Firstly, the tunes are to die for.  We hear a small number mostly at every Wanderlust concert, but I never tire of the colourful melodies and  insistent, somewhat international grooves and the three part front line and the solos.   They are in their 30th year but not playing too much, given Covid.  I imagined them flying by the seat of their pants but this is jazz.  Miro organising, passing or calling for solos, those unique feels, the amusements of James and all, really.  When do you see the saxist putting down his glasses on the stand, the trumpeter picking them up, the trombonist checking them out too, all while a delirious solo is taking place, with all in place for John when he's finished, you can only smile in collusion.  Then glorious startups from Fabian, all percussive rather than drum-styled, an unexpected solo started from Brendan when the audience didn't seem to want an end to the concert, and those delightful and expansive solos and fills from Alister.  Mightily musical but so much more; an intensely joyous event but also just lovely, inviting tunes.  How can you not love this outfit?

 And now for something completely different: The Morrisons.  This was classy country/roots/whatever.  Nice harmonies, up feels, fiddle and a string of stringed instruments, banjo, two guitars, a mandolin or similar and bass with slap-style playing. Someone mentioned Australian bluegrass and confirmed the lyrics and stories and compositions were local.  That's good.  I liked this outfit, capable and lively and happy.  Also nice was the location in the Lord Anson pub, so a chance to eat and have a beer.  A very different experience to the church-cum-concert hall events and a chance to chat with neighbours.

 Wanderlust and The Morrisons played at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival. Wanderlust comprised Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet, flugelhorn), James Greening (trombone), John Mackey (tenor), Jeremy Sawkins (guitar), Alister Spence (piano), Brendan Clarke (bass) and Fabian Hevia (drums, percussion).  No names given in the program for The Morrisons.

19 June 2022


Next up was Andy Nelson playing singer-songwriter rootsy music with a cast of characters, guitar/vocals with violin, viola, e-guitar and bass.  An interesting sound with authenticity. 

Then This world again.  They were in the Holy Trinity Church with touchy sound, so not as enjoyable as the previous outing, but this is quality stuff with some drop dead gorgeous solos all round, especially sax and bass. 

Then a touch of Persian/jazz crossover with Eishan Ensemble.  The core player seems to be Hamed, playing Tar and composing.  Of course, these are different sounds to my ears and that was intriguing.  First up was a solo Tar piece, then into an ensemble piece with very simple chord structure and pretty simple melodies.  BTW, the Tar a lute-like stringed instrument from Iran with three pair of strings tuned unison C,G,C and a single bass string tuned G.  I need to hear more before I understand.  Nice to see Max getting around. 

Andy Nelson, This World and Eishan Ensemble played at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival.  Andy Nelson (guitar, vocals) was joined by a string of accompanists.  This World comprises Mike Nock (piano), Julien Wilson (sax), Jonathan Zwartz (bass) and Hamish Stuart (drums).  Eishan Ensemble comprised Hamed Sadeghi (tar), Michael Avgenicos (sax), Pedram Layegh (guitar), Adem Yilmaz (drums, percussion) and Maximillian Alduca (bass).

18 June 2022


Good and bad here.  The bad was that I could only hear Sandy Evans Trio or Andrea Keller solo.  Well, I could walk between venues but how much would I miss.  I mentioned this to manager Zoe but I understand the problems with programming.  None-the-less, it's my greatest disappointment of these days.  I'd heard the two the day before and adored both and Andrea Keller is in Melbourne so more difficult to catch.  But life is like that.  The good? 

Sandy Evans Trio was my favourite event of the festival.  Not something new or unexpected. I'd heard them all before together and apart and admired all their playing.  Together, despite few gigs over recent times due to Covid, they just excelled.  To some degree, the style is a preference of mine, as we all have preferences given what's hot when we discover something.  For me, it was '70 modern jazz much like this.  I could have hiked down to Andrea K but I melted and decided to stay.  The sound was to die for and this was also part of the pleasure.  The bass was pickup into Ampeg and otherwise unamplified, so levels fitted to bass.  The sax was one large diaphragm, with distance nicely controlled by Sandy; the drums were one overhead and one kick mic.  And the space was good.  Brett sounded so solid and expressive, double stops and more and Toby laid deep grooves, but was also loud and explosive or varied and fluid.  Sandy played over, moving tonalities, delirious long phrases or reticent and restrained, always gloriously toned (I felt I could hear the bell itself this was so intimate; thus the pleasure with the sound), intellectually questing, grunts or space or abstract melody.  Then a tribute to Bernie McGann and wife Addie.  My god, so beautiful.  Then a quick tune with unison sax/bass and something "so you can contemplate your own identity" and then Invasion day at the beach, introduced as a "punk rock thrash disco yobbo feel".  Loved'm all.  An important band playing a gem session expertly and with integrity. 

 The Sandy Evans Trio played at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival.  They were Sandy Evans (tenor, soprano sax), Brett Hirst (bass) and Toby Hall (drums).

17 June 2022


Day 2 of OWJF2022 and I decide to spread my listening, some singers, the older jazz traditions, perhaps some blues or roots, a pub venue rather than another concert-hall church.  And good for a bit of exercise walking between venues and braving the cold.   Colder than Canberra by a few degrees and the dress of the locals shows it.

First up is Kate Wadey Trio at the Con.  Someone had spoken well of her the day before.  Kate with bass and piano.  I  caught a few songs.  First up was East of the sun, west of the moon, a favourite song, so I was on side.  Decent piano and bass solos; bassist Sam likes soloing with the bow.  Then a few originals.  I notice I'm genuinely impressed with a composition: an authentic, satisfying chord structure that moves nicely through keys or major/minors; AABA with harmonic changes in both As and Bs; med-slow walk.  So this is a jazz singer and capable writer, nicely presented in satin dress in the morning, has worked on cruise ships.  Lovely standards and originals in the tradition.  And I'm a sucker for a good song.  Much enjoyed.

Then some diverse things for my ears.  First up Queen Porter Stomp.  Three women up front, three part harmonies and ukelele, trumpet and trombone, three guys in the back line with guitar, bass, drums.  Some nice players I recognise from other outfits, not least Crystal Barreco upfront.  Was she out of Canberra?  I've definitely seen her play here with locals.  Plenty of cut-times, jump music, lovely harmonies, a decent guitar solo thrown in.  Very nice and entertaining.  Light and polished at the Cadia Club.  I am discovering more venues.

And a folkoric twist, singer-songwriter Darren Smith.  I came in late and just heard one song, telling of the #MeToo movement to his young daughter.  Honest and open, strumming and singing.

Kate Wadey, Darren Smith and Queen Porter Stomp played at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival. Kate Wadey (vocals) performed with Andrew Scott (piano) and  Samuel Dobson (bass).  Queen Porter Stomp comprised Crystal Barreca (vocals, ukulele), Louise Horwood (trumpet, vocals), Rose Foster (trombone, vocals), Aaron Flower (guitar), Alex Masso (drums) and Matt Lamb (bass).  Darren Smith (vocals, guitar) played at the Lord Anson.

16 June 2022


And then to finish day 1 I attended two concerts and stayed throughout.  First up was The Vampires.  They are favourites from some time back and no less today even if they started a little wary on the day.  They've changed and interestingly, as drummer and sole original member on the night, Alex, said, there are many Vampires out there.  This time three of four were unavailable, two overseas and one with Covid.  Noel was new to me on bass but apparently he'd filled this role often enough and looked comfortable.  Tom had some warning of his call so seemed pretty prepared.  Tessie had very little, being a last minute Covid cover.  So it was a tentative start but by the end they were blowing with relative comfort and great joy.  The Vampires are like that.  The grooves are steady and lively and even mesmerising and the heads are genuinely attractive melodies with playful twists.  Tom played with effects which gave a studio feel.  I much enjoyed the interplay of Tom and Tessie and their capable listening on collective improvs.  Collective improvs are not too common, being  trad-styled, but I like the sense of danger and throwing caution to the wind and the challenge to players.  I also enjoyed how Noel approached his solos, not so much creating melody or counterpoint, but exploring and emboldening the rhythm.  Nice playing, increasingly settled and that sense of playfulness that I enjoy from The Vampires.

And finally, The catholics.  Note the spelling, of course.   Here's another band that's been around for yonks.  And another band that entertains, playing attractive tunes with virtuosity but keeping the pleasure in the listening.  But I was somewhat surprised by a meditative, pensive band this night, less excitable than I remember.  Just gloriously soft and pensive to start, although they wound up to Wes Montgomery later.  Hilary Geddes was sitting in and her inventiveness and versatility were self-evident.  Sandy was her eternal joyous and virtuosic self as is ever our venerable James on trom.   Fabian and Hamish lay a more rich rhythmic underlay given drums and percussion and it's always pleasant and strange that more don't take this path.  I guess there's more to pay, though.  Gary mostly played accordion but took to the grand piano beside him occasionally.  Lloyd oversaw the group as host and bassist.  There is always joy in a catholics concert and this also had a pensive side.  Lovely.

The Vampires and The catholics played at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival.  The Vampires comprised Alex Masso (drums), Noel Mason (bass), Tom Avgelikos (trumpet) and Tessie Overmyer (alto).  The catholics comprised Lloyd Swanton (bass), Sandy Evans (tenor, soprano sax), James Greening (trombone), Gary Daley (piano, accordion),  Hilary Geddes (guitar), Fabian Hevia (percussion) and Hamish Stuart (drums).

15 June 2022



Then some of the senior masters, This World.  Mike Nock, Julien Wilson, Jonathon Zwartz, Hamish Stuart: need I say more?  I'd missed them in Canberra and this was a key reason to attend OWJF.  Not disappointed.  This was glorious playing and hugely understated.  Jonathon floored me at times, seemingly pretty simple, then devastating, quick, expressive, always beautifullly toned.  So too with Julien, easy going and humourous and a powerhouse of casually stated blazing lines that tell stories and lay down phrases and melodies that just feel sweet and totally nice.  That's a great skill.  nothing strained, just right, but at the same time blazingly quick, that is, if needed.  What I particularly interested me was their self-description as a composers' collective, so all provided tunes  which were perused for performance.  Even Hamish, drums, with something that flowed beautifully with a simple melody and expressive rhythms and some unexpected longer bars.  Or Jonathon's dedication to Mike called Winter that started with a breathtaking bass solo (mmm, Jullien commented on someone starting their own tune with their own solo...but Julien was joshing).  But overally, this was all immense earthiness, sincerity, maturity and plain chops.  Fabulous.  Just one other comment is on my mind from Julien.  He was thinking all and the festival and made the comment "Lots of churches in orange ... not many pubs".  It came back to haunt me later that night.  I hope I don't end up missing one band by waking by the pub they were playing in!

For me, festivals have been an opportunity to play or a chance to survey respected, invited participants.  This is turning out to be a survey of the Sydney jazz field, I guess, perhaps with some ring-ins and hopefully an occasional bluesy/rootsy/folky performer who I should know.  I was amused to hear the expression "jazz coma" on a YouTube video to describe that all-embracing commitment to the intellectual and artistic heights which is jazz.  But it can also limit horizons so now I enjoy seeing people with projects that spread over styles.

So I went to Mahalia Barnes.  I know the connection to Jimmy, great singer and honost and outspoken person that he is.  And I have another connection there, too.  Not that anyone knows of it it but me.  So what to expect?  I actually walked in with Hamish Stuart and Jonathan Zwartz.  Mahalia was playing with just piano and apparently they'd offered ot drop in for a rhythm section.  Amusingly, I heard vocals/piano while they were setting up, then a full band.  You'd die for such a band.  For that matter, you'd die for some R7B/Soul/gospel as Mahalia belts out.  Belt can be the word, but that's alsp the role.  Great personality, talking to the audience, getting singalongs on I am woman.  Song favourites from Aretha Franklin, Rene Geyer and others.  She recounted a story of Rene Geyer before she sand her glorious Heading in the right direction.  What an album that was!  The church probably had its greatest attendance in yonks and they walked out singing to themselves.  Not jazz but that gospel exhuberance; fabulous.

This World and Mahalia Barnes played at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival.  This World comprised Mike Nock (piano), Julien Wilson (tenor), Jonathon Zwartz (bass) and Hamish Stuart (drums).  Mahalia Barnes (vocals) was supported by Clayton Doley (piano); Jonathan Zwartz (bass) and Hamish Stuart (drums) sat in during the set.

14 June 2022


I'd expected more experimentalism from Amy Viola.  Yes, there was crossover, but a classical/roots/folk thing with vocals, quotes from Bach (first cello suite), I guess effects on the floors and even some guitar-like strumming, covers of Radiohead (interestingly another who came to pop from the classical training) and even covers of covers.  Amusingly she claimed a composition was perhaps the saddest Christmas song since Joni Mitchell.  Given the cold outside and the Christmas in July thing, it was close enough both ways.  And I'd also expected solo, but no, she was accompanied by drums and e-bass but I didn't find names anywhere.  It was good, interesting, earthy, just unexpected.  I expected a solo set with looping, but just goes to show.  Go with the flow.  She was good and a student of friends of mine, it turns out.  I am increasingly discovering musical connections to this town.

I couldn't even pronouce JAHL HESHI so again I was somewhat non-plussed to find a pretty straightforward modern jazz quartet.  I realise now that they are all initials but it had me flummoxed.  Tender and thoughtful tenor sax, intelligent and sometimes unexpected piano with delicious and well practised sequences,  nicely present and clear bass again with an extension, and Alex Inman-Hislop again on drums, an instant favourite after recent Hilary Geddes gigs.  Attractive and thoughtful modern jazz and nothing at all like what I'd expected!

Amy Viola and JAHL HESHI played at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival.  Amy Viola (viola) performed with drums and e-bass.  JAHL HESHI comprised Harry Sutherland (piano), Lachy Hamilton (tenor), Jacques Emery (bass) and Alex Inman-Hislop (drums).

13 June 2022


Off to another church for a paring that was much longed for and much loved.  Andrea Keller playing with Sandy Evans.  Two stars of the Australian jazz firmament, female to follow the blokes of the dark patterns.  Yes, this was more hopeful but that wasn't particularly what I heard.  Rather, it was occasionally playful and meditative, somewhat visual and explicative but deeply mostly communicative and open to each other.  I needn't say they were musically inventive and capable, they are renowned for this, but I melted with Sandy's clearly spelled melodies and rich flourishes (sadly sometimes quiet so could be lost) and varied tonalities and I was floored by Amanda, who I have only seen rarely, with her chordal plays, not arpeggios but phrasings repeated and moved, like birds, spelling a phrase then repeating, altering, developing.  Just stunning playing and done with such intimacy and joy.  And to top it off, a piece written for and dedicated to Miro Bukovsky called Polar bird.  I have no idea how the title came to be, but it was a lovely tune.  To be so honoured!  An endearing, personal, intimate concert by two deeply telling players.

Then Hilary again for something very unexpected, Visions of Nar.  If I'd kept up with news for Sydney I shouldn't have been so surprised.  Margossian was a name I'd noticed but I didn't know of her band with Jeremy Rose playing music of female energy and Armenian mythology.  All grooves and mind blowingly quick phrasings played unison, dotted 16th notes (or thereabouts, with the dotted note following if I heard right; quite odd to Euro ears) in scales that also sounded odd to my ears, and those tabla-like percussion outings, sometimes steady, often with glorious rhythmic and tonal percussion colour.  I was entranced, not least by Hilary's versatility and sitar-like effects and Zela's leadership and presumably compositions.  And interestingly, the crossover to jazz which seemed most evident in later track/s. Too bad that Jeremy Rose was absent with Covid and was to be missing for some other outings, too.

Andrea Keller (piano) and Sandy Evans (tenor, soprano) and Visions of Nar played at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival.  Visions of Nar comprised Zela Margossian (piano), Hilary Geddes (guitar) and Adem Yilmaz (percussion).

12 June 2022


It's the premiere OWJF (Orange Winter Jazz Festival and I'm there, not for day 1, the more sparse Friday, but for Saturday and Sunday.  This is also the weekend of the Merimbula JF I rememebr, Queens Birthday weekend - the clash surprises me as there aren't so many JFs - but there are only so many long weekends.  Strangely the Monday is being left empty.  The chance is there for future events.  And it's colder than I remember Merimbula, from a cold spell and presumably from a country town far from the sea.  Colder than Canberra!   Happily, the weekend was relatively free for me and there were a string of bands which I'd sadly missed in Canberra so I'm here.  Orange is a 3.5 hours drive from Canberra, past the fish museum. 

I arrive in time for a rerun of Hilary Geddes Quartet.  The tunes were as I'd heard a week before at the Street, similarly intriguing and well played, if not so intimate given the space.  I had another go at counting one tune and decided on 7 but it also went into 8s and 6s then I got lost.  Col Hoorweg commented he avoided the counting.  Sensible!  But again some intriguing playing.  I missed a real piano this time, but bass sounded great and max laid some nice solos.  The acoustics didn't suit drums quite as well as the previous gig, but again Alex is a star of sharp, incisive and somewhat sparse playing and I love this.  And we for another of Hilary's blaring rocky solos that again I love and I think i understood the song of late sleeper next to highway better this time.  So a satisfying start.  Interestingly, I will hear Hilary in many guises during the day.  She is seriously versatile.  If antyhing, that may be a theme of this festival, seeing several basses with extensions, a classical implement not used in jazz and not used here.

Then to Phil Slater's Dark Pattern.  Dark Pattern was the work not the grouping.  Truly incisive and deep playing but dark it was.  This is, of course, one of the senior and renowned collections of musos here this weekend.  These are not the young tykes making names, but the seasoned and experienced performers.  Revered. and they easily deserved it.  I thought Miles from before the jazz rock, all thoughtful and sparse and gorgeously beautifully toned trumpet with careful harmonies and multiphonics from Matt Keagan beside him and Brett Hirst and Matt McMahon and Simon barker, all renowned for seriousness and virtuosity.  It raised a theme in my mind about mature players, what they do in later years.  It was to be with me with The World and The catholics later.  This was a concert of glorious tone, continuous playing (the tunes ran into each other, attacca), chart reading, thought and depth and satisfaction but, I thought, not too much joy.  And so be it.  Maybe just telling the story of our times...

Hilary Geddes Quartet performed and Phil Slater played Dark Pattern at the inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival. Hilary Geddes (guitar) performed with Matthew Harris (piano), Max Alduca (bass) and Alex Inman-Hislop (drums).  Dark Pattern was performed by Phil Slater (trumpet), Matt Keegan (saxophones), Brett Hirst (bass), Matt McMahon (piano) and Simon Barker (drums).

05 June 2022

Next gen?

This night felt different.  Obviously for the music, but not sure why otherwise.   I thought next gen, but it's not just age.  It was fresh and I enjoyed it immensely.  It was two women leaders presenting their albums.  First up was Hilary Geddes and her quartet out of Sydney.  It started with changly guitar strums, moving through diverse and almost unrelated rhythms, then into sharp but sparse drums, their rhythms present but not too obviously stated, then into a melody of sorts on bowed bass, sometimes with unison piano, soundscapes in G (key is my guess from the bass fingering).  That was written for a street in Bremen, near the conservatorium, where Hilary was studying.  Then more, very different, perhaps with solos for all at various times.  Some were obvious and standard enough, including a genuine blow guitar solo in the last piece, but that was the one up-walk-feel.  Otherwise, plenty of bowed bass amongst the fingered including solos in each and bowed tailpieces and the like, some delicious piano counterpoint-cum-accompaniment, sharp and elusive drumming to die for, more tunes with Bremen references and some odd times that had me flumoxed.  Perhaps they were changeable; one 6-6-4 seemed to change all over.  I think that Bill Frisell touch, but he's never touched me, but then it took a little time for Hilary to do so, too.  At least half a tune!  Great stuff.  Then a second act at Street Three.  This was Claire Cross from Melbourne.  Claire, e-bassist and composer, sitting and leading a larger team including even viola and cello, mostly scored although she spoke after of leaving space for thematic improv by players.  This was much calmer, ordered, meditative, but again intensive and expansive.  The piece was created through a Melbourne International Jazz Festival program and recorded with many of the same players, although at least drums and cello had just sat in that day.  The drumming, although shared with Hilary, was far more restrained, Claire's bass was all fingerpicked chords and just a few fingerstyle passages, the strings added colour and the trombone and alto broke out into lovely solos every so often, but this remained a discreet work.  So different from Hilary's but again intriguing.  So quite a night.  Somewhat a revelation, really.  Hear their albums online: Hilary Geddes Parkside on Spotify; Claire Cross Into light on Bandcamp.

Hilary Geddes (guitar) led her quartet with Max Alduca (bass), Matt Harris (piano) and Alex Inman-Hislop (drums).  Claire Cross (e-bass) led her ensemble with Harry Cook (piano), Alex Inman-Hislop (drums), Jordan Murray (trombine), Flora Carbo (alto sax, bass clarinet), Biddy Connor (viola) and Eleanor Streatfeild (cello).  Both groups performed at Street Theatre Three.   PS, sorry for the pics!  Best I could do under the circumstances...

04 June 2022


We remember this concert with much reverence.  It's not a recent concert.  It was from 4 years ago at one of our favourite venues, St Peter and Paul, the heavy bluestone Catholic cathedral in Goulburn with the wonderful acoustics.  The group was Musica da Camera and our guests were Louise Page and Lenny Weiss.  As I am wont to say, at different stages of their musical careers.  MdaC was around its 40th anniversary.  Louise was on her final year before retirement, performing with various groups around town.  Lenny was yet to take up studies at the Peabody Conservatorium in USA.  Both Louise and Lenny were much admired and much loved.   We also had some horns and clarinets sitting in from NCO.  We played a Mozart symphony, too, but that didn't appear in the recording that is now released as Sorrowful song on Spotify and YouTube and Bandcamp and all the other streaming services.  The songs are arias from various operas, from Handel, Purcell, Gluck and Mozart, and the performances are deeply touching.  It was such a pleasure to support Louise in this most tragic of music.  Whatever, it's now released so have a listen and if you wish to support MdC (now Musica da Camera Canberra to support our international presence!), go to Bandcamp and purchase a download.  But do listen.  It's nothing like a joyous pop song, but it's intense and truly felt.  Sorrowful song is our second album and a source of much pride.

Musica da Camera Canberra (string orchestra) released an album of arias performed with Louise Page (soprano) and led by Leonard Weiss (director).

02 June 2022

Both delicacy and rigour

There's history in Aaron Chew's relationship to Wesley Music Centre.  He first played there at age 13 and he's well past that now.  In fact, he's just lodged his doctoral thesis on Bach-Busoni and we heard some of the relevant music at this concert.  Apparently Busoni was a famed virtuosic Italian pianist who took the music of Bach and performed it on modern piano, also arranging some works from violin to piano.  His Bach-Busoni Chromatic fantasia Dmin was one and he played this first.  I wasn't the only one floored by delicacy in phrasing and performance and intimacy in the most beautiful twists of melody and embellishments but that's not to say there wasn't power when it was called for.  Just lovely.  Then some Spanish tunes, Albeniz and Granados and  two Schubert impromptus.  He mentioned that he'd played one at Wesley before and I reckon I'd heard it.  Then an encore that he said needed no introduction.  Well, I did, and I think it was a Chopin Prelude.  About half was played form memory.  So there was history and intellectual rigour here, and gloriously personal performance and some decent tunes to boot.  Inspirational.

Aaron Chew (piano) performed at Wesley.