31 July 2022


I once worked in the National Library and I was amazed by the microfiche collection, particularly one large set of the works of Isaac Newton.  What a resource it was; a treasure of multiple editions of his works available on this side of the world.  It's old tech now, and probably weeded from the collection assuming availability over the Net but these were pre-Net days (surprisingly only a few decades ago) and such materials weren't so available.  So it's nice to see the word still in use and a joy to hear the improv group memorialising the tech.  Microfiche the group came from a class on classical-improv for jazzers at the Sydney Con.  The lineup is fairly standard: piano, bass, drums, trumpet, alto and just a little skewed with clarinet/bass clarinet/viola.  They played two medleys in a single one hour set, each medley comprising two original tunes with an improv bridge.  The tune structures or melodies weren't too obvious, so the moves through tunes and improv was gentle and left pretty undefined and that suited the free style beautifully.  I was entranced by glorious harmonies that sat so purely at times, rippling intervallic piano, busy drums and occasional smiles from drummer Holly to bassist Alex, Nick just sitting on stage at the end and taking in his own composition (after some stunning solos).  There was much listening, closed eyes, gentle testing noises then more confident statements.  But the whole was not explosive or ecstatic like some free music, but big-eared and comradely, and if I can say it, intimate.  This is one to close eyes to, open ears and enjoy the freedom and colour and interplay.  Very much enjoyed.

Microfiche comprise Nick Calligeros (trumpet), Phillippa Murphy-Haste (clarinet, bass clarinet, viola), Sam Gill (alto), Novak Manojlovic (piano), Max Alduca (bass), Holly Conner (drums).

28 July 2022

Top brass

This is one of my favourite Wednesday lunchtime concerts each year.   A bunch of professional players with the sweet tones of brass playing a mix of styles, entertaining and competent and interesting.   And pretty loud, too, but that's the nature of brass.  Loud at top and bottom: first up a medley of John Williams film marches because an Army band should shart with a march after all. Raiders and Star Wars and Superman and more, delicious and inviting and rollicking.  Then a chorale for Covid and a Bach prelude and a Bruckner piece written for his mother.  This is already a massive range of styles but the Bruckner must have been the most out of this ordinary, quiet and calm and pensive, nonetheless well received.  Then Bach again, this time in two harmonisations.  The common one was the best received and I thought it worked best anyway, the other being more dissonant and really not Bach to my ears.  Then a polka and Selections from West Side Story.  I love anyone who plays West Side Story.  Something coming... Then What a wonderful world  with a soloist out front on flugelhorn, somewhat a noisy big band tune to end on and not actually my favourite, although the flugelhorn was beautifully played.  Brass played with the classical tone is a huge bliss.  The concert was programmed and conducted and introduced and occasionally played by Sgt Nick Salter.  Much enjoyed.

The RMC Brass Group performed at Wesley under Sgt Nick Salter (director).

22 July 2022

A uniqueness of the French

Sam Row has a penchant for C20th French music and it's a killer.  He played Ravel Gaspard de nuit with strange themes and 10,000+ notes in six minutes.  I'd believe it: huge rippling screeds of notes with a melody over, in left or right hand.  I'd hate to see the written music, but then he played it from memory so he doesn't need to read it on stage.  I can only admire his memory.  So what were the themes?  Ondine, the water spirit, sings to seduce a man into her underwater palace and finally turns back into water when he rejects her in favour of a human.  Le Gibet, with a man hanging from a gallows in a desert at sunrise with the sounds of bells in the distance.   And Scarbo, a goblin flitting around a bedroom until he disappears.  Strange stuff, sometimes grim.  After this, a lovely Chopin nocturne was a great relief, beautiful and restful and well known.   And a melody from Ukraine to finish as a short encore.  Again, a beguiling and challenging concert from Sam.

Sam Row (piano) performed at Wesley Music Centre.

14 July 2022

Much to learn

Clarinet's an intriguing instrument for me, I'm told different in fingering from the seemingly similar sax family and definitely different in tone.  They both use single reed mouthpieces, the clarinet has a cylindrical bore in wood and the sax a conical bore in metal.   It was a standard of early jazz, but I don't think I've ever played jazz with a clarinet, other than in a big band.  I play with clarinets in orchestras, tut they are big too.  So gear to hear Helena Maher playing clarinet with Lucus Allerton on piano.  the classical was expected, this being Wesley, and the Mozart movement especially so, but Andy Firth was not.  Andy Firth is well known as a jazz player.  Helena played two solo movements form his 3 pieces for Solo jazz clarinet, a rhapsody and a blues.  The blues might be mistaken for classical, but the blues was obvious.  I enjoyed following it for the bass lines he plays with, mostly common for me, too.   The other music was all duet with piano.  The Mozart was the second movement from his well known clarinet concerto, calm but questioning to my ears.  They opened with a Canzonetta by Pierne, bouncy and filmic then into a passive response.  They ended with a Poulenc piano sonata.  Three movements described by Lucus as of "too many ideas" and movements "screaming British murder mystery", discovery of the body and the chase.  Not sure, but I could feel a story-telling nature to it.  Maybe it was the music or maybe the instrument, but I felt flourishes and quick runs leading to settled notes were a feature of the clarinet and also the piano here.  So I learn something of the instrument even if I remain ignorant of its fingering.  So bit it; well done.

Helena Maher (clarinet) was accompanied by Lucus Allerton (piano) at Wesley.

13 July 2022


I usually don't write up private gigs but this one was something special.  No names.  We were booked to play a 50th birthday and it looked like much fun for some very friendly people.  Just don't play too loud, don't scratch the lovely, restored timber floor.  An afternoon party gig, playing 3-6pm, pleasant but not unusual.  But then it was more.  We arrive to be told the hosts would be marrying at 4.30.  They'd been together 18 years and had decided just 5 days before to marry.  Lovely and touching.   Much was outdoor, in the back garden, which we saw through a window, but bands are always something special at a party.  Then the announcement to many surprised guests, then the wedding.  Then getting cold and the guests moved indoors and we played more funky.  All a great pleasure.  Great thanks to our unnamed hosts and our best wishes.  Thanks to N and M for including us in your wonderful day!

Tilt Trio played for a private 50th birthday that ended as a last-minute-announced wedding.  A thrill and quite touching.

10 July 2022

Christmas in July

Chrissy in July is not a thing for me but Handel Messiah is usually something we hear at Christmas but this was winter, unseasonably cold outside.  Canberra Symphony Orchestra put on Messiah with its Messiah Chorus auditioned and convened by Tobias Cole.  The numbers were not huge, ~35 instrumentalists and ~40 chorus and four soloists.  The program didn't say, but the solo singers were Chloe Lankshear and Andrew Goodwin and Adrian Tamburini along with Tobias.  The basses were old mates Kyle and David and Hayley but only Kyle and Hayley on the night.  Kyle played most as solo when the front lines played.  The work is a dream, of course, and well known and loved and it's deserved.  Quite a few fugues (I love a fugue) and plenty of rich choral passages and those soloists with harpsichord or organ or solo violin or often a smaller ensemble, but the extravagance and delirium of the choral passages and full orchestras are what really does it for me and most.  We duly stood for the Hallelujah chorus, but we had to be goaded / invited.  I was not the only one who'd forgotten that rite of passage.  And the choir was good.  First up I thought the women were good, but the lower voices are always less appreciated or obvious but they showed their colours and impressed.  So impressive all round.  The trumpet passage (aptly in The trumpet shall sound) was lovely; the solo violin was satisfying, the parts were convincing.  I felt just a little discomfort in timing or perhaps some rushing in the tricky bits early on but that settled.  As for the bass, I was surprised by some tricky parts and look forward to printing the part for a gander. Anthony Hunt from State Opera of SA was upfront and led comfortably.  And that lovely scalar semiquaver stuff by voice (paralleled by instruments, too, of course), is demanding and tricky and a real test.  I was surprised how capably the chorus carried this out.  We expect it from the soloists, but it seems more difficult for massed voices who are perhaps less trained.  So we all left with joy and excitement and satisfaction after 2 hours and interval for a pretty long night of music.  Just such a pleasure: nicely done and such joyous music.

Canberra Symphony Orchestra with the CSO Messiah Choir under Anthony Hunt (conductor) with soloists Chloe Lankshear (soprano), Tobias Cole (countertenor), Andrew Goodwin (tenor) and Adrian Tamburini (bass).  Kyle Ramsey-Daniel and Hayley Manning (bass) played the low end.

08 July 2022

Tenor of our times

Murray Jackson plays alto but had time during Covid to explore the tenor sax and we saw the outcome the other night at a Geoff's jazz night at Smiths.  It was a very satisfying night of playing.  Mostly post-bop-sum-hard-bop field, so tunes by Murray and Aussies Bernie McGann and Dale Barlow, but also the internationals Jackie McLean, Donald Bird, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver and Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael as somewhat an outlier.  I was particularly taken by Nica's dream by Horace Silver with Murray playing Hank Mobley (or Junior Cook?) on harmony with the melody on piano (the original has trumpet playing the melody).  That was a particularly fascinating line and a pleasure to hear so clearly live.  Murray has studied well.  There's a clarity and purposefulness in all his playing, clearly from a good listener and plenty of transcriptions.  The whole band was pretty much that way, too, clear and expressive.  I enjoyed Wilbur Whitta's plain-talking lines and Tim Geldens spelling the rhythmic bass and especially Brendan Clarke's sometimes deliriously fluid solos, but then I'm a bassist and I admire Brendan's playing.  There was directness in this integrity and restraint, not to suggest it was easy to play because lots wasn't, but you didn't feel the richness and history and admiration that underlaid this presentation.  Murray mentioned the good sound of the room, too, both acoustics and Bevan's sound and that only helped this sense of clarity.  And it was Murray's first outing on tenor, I think.  One other thing to note: Wilbur Murray and Brendan are all products of our local jazz school, presumably from its early days at Manuka, so nice returns.  Very much enjoyed.

Murray Jackson (tenor) led a quartet with Wilbur Whitta (piano), Brendan Clarke (bass) and Tim Geldens (drums) at Smiths.

07 July 2022

Kids today

Well not all kids can play piano like this crew.  They are students from the piano studio of teacher Jinbo Huang and they played a Wesley Wednesday lunchtime concert.  It's amusing how they go on stage, all of 10 years or so, but ranging in age, all dressed to the nines, looking very presentable, very young and quite small, at a grand piano, perhaps paired for a four handed duet, then you listen.  They were good, some very good.  I still notice adults with their depth of emotions, but the older ones here are showing that and the younger still present very satisfying youthful compositions (titles included The puppet and T-Rex hungry, no less!) through simpler Brahms and Beethoven and Strauss Snr to the movements from the Pathetique and Schubert Impromptu.  This is a mightily impressive crew and a pleasure to hear.  We can only look forward to some lovely playing around town.

Charles Huang, James Jin, Arabella Lu, Frank Huang, Naomi Feng, Angelia Lee, Khloe Chen, Charlie Sanoubane, Damien Ruan and Michael Anufriyeva  from the studio of Jinbo Huang played at Wesley.

01 July 2022


Nice to hear a group return so soon.  This was four ANUSOM guitar students, Abel Lawson, Hong Anh Do, Benjamin van der Niet and Shane Campbell.  They each played solo then those other than Shane played a trio.  All musicians play Bach and several also did here but otherwise the music was mostly of a Spanish tinge, a standard style for classical guitar.  Perhaps the choices of Hong Anh Do were outside the norm, with titles in French and Italian and perhaps also stylistically different.  I enjoyed the trio given the more complex interplay of lines and the longer solo piece by Shane, three movements from Antonio Jose Suite Compostelana para guitar.  I expect you learn Spanish language as well as musical styles when playing guitar.  Nice outing.

Abel Lawson, Hong Anh Do, Benjamin van der Niet and Shane Campbell (guitars) performed at Wesley.