30 October 2022

Looking for Al...

First up for the night was the Wharf Review, this time called Looking for Albanese, obviously channeling Looking for Alibrandi.  Also obviously with suggestions of a tentative government, perhaps justified after 2019.  Again the four Wharfies, variously musicians and scriptwriters and singers and performers.  The themes are various characters in Australian and occasional International political matters.  The short sketches are (almost?) always pop or musical numbers rethemed and relyricised.  Oh, and a lengthy rhyme from Katy Gallagher as Finance Minister.  The whole started with four singing dummies then through all manner of pollies.  I noticed a preponderance of skits on Labor matters, no doubt following the election that trounced Morrison and his do-nothing spendthrifts.  I don't think Dutton, leader of the opposition, even appears (think Yepon/Yeppoon: I have no idea of spelling but I'm not from Queensland unlike Dutton).  Barnaby and Katter as apt.  Jackie Lambie appeared as a boot-skooter to introduce and sing at Tamworth.  The Greens got a spot as the alt.Wiggles.  Amusing if pretty obvious.  There was a fabulous scene of Gillard, Keating and Rudd at National Conference.  Similarly, Albanese was consistently believable.  The night started fairly tame, I thought, with limited laugh and applause, but finished with a take on West Side Story and Albo and mates, with dance/song numbers from the Rumble and Gee, Officer Krupke.  Most impressive and the biggest laugh and best received and apt as the last number of the night.  Not the belly laughs of previous Wharves that I've seen, but they are a hoot.

Jonathan Biggins, Mandy Bishop, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott appeared in the Wharf Review called Looking for Albanese at the Canberra Playhouse.

28 October 2022


I only get to Selby and friends when someone has a ticket to share.  There was one the other night.  The theme was Tributes and legacies.  The pieces were Ravel Le Tombeau de Couperin, Mendelssohn Piano trio no.2 Cmin and Schumann Piano trio no.1 Dmin.  Just three instruments sounding very different, so their sound were wonderfully distinct and I was taken by their virtuosity, for this it was.  The two strings were perhaps clearer than the Steinway piano, although Selby commented very positively on the piano provided in Llewellyn.  They will be back to the NGA next year so another piano altogether, although the intimacy will make up somewhat.  The works were of an era and hugely impressive.  The playing was, as mentioned, clear and exemplary.   Unfair of me, maybe, but not all my cup of tea, at least this night, even if it was hugely impressive all round.  Not cheap, but that's Llewellyn, too, I guess.  Llewellyn in its chamber guise, curtained at mid-hall, that is.  So, exemplary for the style.

Kathryn Selby (piano) led a trio with Natsuko Yoshimoto (violin) and Richard Narroway (cello) at Llewellyn Hall.

26 October 2022

More war

Stuart performed a piano concert to carry on Robert last week.  Another Prokofiev War sonata as the main work of the day, this one no.7 from 1939-1942.  (Robert's was no.8).  The years say it all: premiered as the Russian Army gained the upper hand in Stalingrad.  Three movements, first up brutal and unsettled then sorrowful and dark, then violent and tumultuous.  And that was just the first movement.  The second was more emotional, sentimental; the third was a toccata in 7/8, explosive and drenched with chromaticism.  All suitable for a war work and heavy and demanding.  Especially for Stuart.  Prokofiev was sandwiched by Scriabin.  To start, 9 preludes in 2 opuses.  All short, perhaps 1-2mins, but wonderfully expressive.  These were from a time of his influence by Chopin.  To end, an etude written at age 16, expressive and melodic.  A worthy pairing with Robert's concert of the previous week and some admirable playing throughout.

Stuart Long (piano) performed Scriabin and Prokofiev at Wesley.

24 October 2022

Job well done

Job well done and lots of fun.  Thanks all.  I ended up playing 5 performances of the 10 session series.  Never perfect but always pretty OK.   Locked in the dark pit, just seeing the light for a final pic after the final performance.  And here it is.  With most of the orchestra present, but not all.  

The Queanbeyan Players presented Gilbert & Sullivan  HMS Pinafore at TheQ.  Matt Greenwood (musical director, yellow shirt) conducted the orchestra.

22 October 2022

Waves on sand

I got to Verity Lane for another of Alex Raupach's 8-evening series, sadly coming to an end soon.  Each show includes a visiting or feature artist with the house band, but this was a doozy.  It was called Waves on Sand, the title of a piece written for this event by Alex, was located in a quiet room out the back and featured 3 visitors, just not 1.  And worthy visitors they were.  Chloe Kim is a renowned drummer in numerous ensembles and student/associate of Simon Barker; a member of one of her bands and also from Sydney, Harley Coleman, came on guitar; Melbourne-based trumpeter Ashley Ballatt, with a string of plays with international renowns, Terri-Lynne Carrington, Linda Oh,  Dave Douglas and Vijay Iyer no less.  The locals were Chris Pound and Tom Fell, both local experts.  Actually, both Chloe and Ashley had history at the ANU at the time of the SOM ructions, so some local presence.   So a promising program.  The concert was a series of tunes, written by all members, including Chris and Tom and Alex, of various styles, even touching one with a country-ish opening for one particularly beautiful ballad, Yellow pink to blue by Sandcastles Chloe/Harley band partner, Hinano Fuisaki.  But most was not like that.  There was glorious, calm, slow, chordal grooves with occasional movements in pitch, signalled by a leader, or frantic free, or totally solo drums or guitar, or drums or guitar solos in context, guitar lightly picked but quick, a most glorious bass tone that both Harley and I were praising Chris for, or glorious sitting three part harmonised notes from tenor, trumpet and bass, moving in small intervals down on instruction, but improvised on harmony, and throughout a gorgeously pure trumpet tone, and Chloe's rhythmic excursions and occasional space.  All with performers physically coming and going for different pieces, and with a quiet and responsive audience.  The listening location fitted and the purpose was well served with some stunning floating, and just occasionally ecstatic, music.  What a pleasure.

Chloe Kim (drums), Harley Coleman (guitar), Ashley Ballatt (trumpet), Tom Fell (tenor, soprano saxes) and Chris Pound (bass) performed at Verity Lane for Alex Raupach's Louis Louis series.

20 October 2022


War is overwhelming.  This concert by Robert Schmidli was overwhelming.  He had programmed two pieces written by East Europeans through WW2 and thereabouts.  Borkierwicz was the lesser known, but a Ukrainian who fled Germans and Communists and Nazis, ending up in Vienna.  The work was Three Fantasiestucke op.61 with movements named "Why?",  "A dream" and "... and the Awakening".  The other work was a major one, ~30 mins, the third of Prokofiev's war sonatas, Piano sonata no.8 Bbmaj op.84.  Suffice to say, a huge and complex and loud work, all manner of melody and harmonic changes, fast, virtuosic, hugely demanding.  Robert did a great job, perhaps admitting some slips but hard to notice with this discordant, intense, music of handfulls of notes.  Whatever, the audience was in awe at the end, and I was one.  Blaring and overwhelming.  Something like war, as mentioned.  We are lucky if this is as close as we get.

Robert Schmidli (piano) performed Borkierwicz and Prokofiev at Wesley.

18 October 2022


Life has made me cancel my musical commitments over November: jazz gigs and preparation and performance of a few classical outings.  So when I got the opportunity to fill in over 9 days of HMS Pinafore I was thrilled and jumped at it.  The timing was perfect and I love pit work even if I have no time otherwise to partake.  It's four sessions to relieve bassist Mel Fung under MD Matt Greenwood for Gilbert & Sullivan's well known operetta presented by the Queanbeyan Players at TheQ.  Too late for rehearsals so it's a sight reading job with a instructions and changes over the phone and before the first performance.  The last 20 minutes before the first performance were busy moments!  But it's not too hard and the music is often recognisable.  My main preparation was just to listen to the music while following the score.  So far, it's 2 down and 2 to go and getting to be more relaxed.  Perhaps the strangest thing is interval: characters in gaudy costume and wireless mics eating sweet treats and the musicians in black.  It's a world of its own and a blast.  Great fun and thanks to Helen for the contact and Matt for the opportunity.

Queanbeyan Players presented HMS Pinafore at TheQ.  Eric Pozza (bass) covered for four performances under Matt Greenwood (musical director).

17 October 2022

Sound and light out

I just caught a snippet of the long set, but it was intriguing.  This was a SoundOut gig located in the middle of Civic in an ex-hair salon (sounds the part!).  Bright lights and colour outside through the glass; colour projections inside from a series of film projectors of 8mm variety.  Authentic analogue, Interestingly complete with authentic analogue film loops.  Two projectors mostly, sometimes superimposed, otherwise side-by-side.  Seven musicians responding to this, in lines seated at the opposite walls.  The whole was noise, repetition, squeaks and sparks, drone noises and the like.  Two guitarists, trumpet, three winds of various persuasions.  There was an intriguing home-built synth, too, with pitch and modulations controlled by hand movements and a chip to respond to it all; small and mounted on a rough timber stand.  Unique.  This is the nature of SoundOut, that experimentation and noise that makes music with closed eyes for inquisitive audiences.  Sadly, not too many of them.

SoundOut presented Louise Canham (experimental film projection) with the Noise Floor Ensemble comprising George Kay, Jamie Lambert (guitars), Rhys Butler (alto), Richard Johnson (wind instruments), Rory Villegas (trumpet), Tom Fell (saxes) and Brian McNamarra (invented electronic instruments) at Antics Hair in Civic.

16 October 2022

What borders

I'd seen Hilary Geddes a few times before so I'm not sure why I was so surprised and impressed by her at Verity Lane the other night.  She was the guest, leading the band, mostly playing standards, perhaps one of two of her originals, playing with the house band, Chris Pound and Mark Sutton.  And John Mackey and Alex Raupach who sat in  later in the night.  Her presence was a clear influence, with abstruse solo lines and deliciously dissonant chords which twisted and distorted the backing, so what might be a standard solo just needed to be altered to fit.  Just what those were, I wasn't always too sure.  And she was such an influence despite a relatively low volume.  I thought too low, so sometimes a bit lost, but maybe that's another of her influences that made for a different music.  It all brought out strong, rudimentals-oriented drumming from Mark which is something I love to hear.  And Chris with a wonderfully strong, upper-mid-rich tone, quick lines, plenty of chordally aware playing through the range was a dream, even if he sometimes seemed a little reticent in the context, even while he was playing a storm with glorious tonality to my ears.  John responded too, although the colours and sheer speed of his cellular playing was an overwhelming storm of its own.  Alex was more lyrical as trumpets often are, but again explosive at times.  But that harmonic colour and abstruse soloing did it for me.  I spoke with guitar Greg after and we were musing over where the influences were from, from jazz but also from rock band exploits that Hilary indulges in.  I increasingly admire work across boundaries, within music and further afield, so I remain hugely impressed if a little perplexed about the whole, this night of standards in a noisy bar with a most intriguing new player.

Hilary Geddes (guitar) visited Verity Lane to play with the House Band comprising Chris Pound (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums).  John Mackey (tenor) and Alex Raupach (trumpet) also sat in.

12 October 2022


Tilt was booked but could only provide one member for this Molly gig, so it was Eric with Ross Buchanan and Mark Levers.  I'd played with both before on different gigs and they are immensely practiced around town, so other than getting a list of tunes and perhaps some approaches (eg, Giant steps as a bossa) this was no big deal.  It was fun though.  These are standards so I'd played most before and if you can do a latin and a walk and you confirm the key you should be right (I was caught out once on the key this night but only for a few bars).  And do your chare of solos.  In the end, all was well this night.  Pretty loud, outgoing, energetic, responsive to suggestions from Ross, tight and playful.  Ross decided to use his e-piano rather than the house grand, for tuning and projection and varied sounds.  I enjoyed the Rhodes and the rest and was somewhat surprised by an organ for one blues.  Nice.  And I enjoyed occasional stops to listen to a drum solo.  Also picking up a few riffs from ear.  Along with the relatively lively audience, this was fun.  Two long sets (2 x 90 mins; 90 mins is what I think of as a rock gig), a decent break, a few pics and a video and a chat with some heavy metallists, no less, and this was a fun night.  Thanks to Ross and Mark; much enjoyed.

Tilt appeared at Molly, this night comprising Eric Pozza (bass) with Ross Buchanan (keys, birthday) and Mark Levers (drums).

09 October 2022

Revisiting the Duke

Bowie died a few years ago, aged 69, just 2 days after his final album, Blackstar, was released.  Liver cancer.  I remember him from his earliest days of fame, as Ziggy Stardust, released 1972.  It was just an amusement, I thought, when I suggested to Megan and a few similarly-aged mates to attend The Thin White Ukes at Smiths: a trio (1xfemale, 2xmale) performing Bowie and specifically the Ziggy Stardust album on vocals and 3 ukeleles (!)  Well, just derivative perhaps, but the video was an amusing outing live at a fair with interactions and good harmonies, so why not.  In the end, I found it a much more intriguing affair, as I entered into some Bowie I didn't know, and listened more intently to words.  The band did an amazing job: first set was the album in order, even marking the end of side one with clicks and pops (after track 5).  Then a break and a second set of 11 songs, one lesser known, at least to me, Slip away, but lots of renowned tunes: Fame, Let's dance, Sorrow, Rebel rebel, Space oddity of course, Heroes, The man who sold the world.  Just hearing the list makes me realise I know more of Bowie than I thought.  A few faves that I might have requested (funkies  Young Americans and China girl) didn't even get a mention.  And they put on a great show.  Costumes, especially on Betty, and patter, wry but not too much.  Some history.  Really impressive harmonies that channelled the originals with real respect.  Surprisingly effective instrumentation from just three ukes (oh, and one Stylophone solo, $50 on eBay).  Even the funky tunes worked; Fame was great if Let's dance was more a challenge.  I'm told they  also play with a drummer but he couldn't make it to Canberra.  That's too bad.  I was air drumming throughout (mostly snare on 3, syncopated kick, hi-hat on the beat = rock); it was duly  immersive.  I was touched by some of the lyrics; blissed out by the harmonies;  intrigued by the performative nature of the music; several times intrigued by some wonderfully effective and unexpected chord changes.  There was much to this man, Bowie, as a performer but also for his stories and themes.  It's got me looking into Wikipedia for his history and life changes (what's your name, what's your name).  All this through a band with authentic presentation and glorious harmonies with due respect for Bowie's genius.  So this guy was more than I'd expected and this band reminded me of that.  Great night and thanks to the Thin White Duke and the Thin White Ukes.

The Thin White Ukes performed The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and 11 other Bowie songs at Smiths.  The TWUs are Robert Stephen, Betty France and Michael Dwyer (vocals, ukelele).

06 October 2022


It's another jazz jam, really, but it's a modern twist with groove and minimalism in place of standards and changes.  I love them both, of course, but the newer form sounds more '70s Miles-cum-rap 1-3 minimalism and embraces electronic sounds and it's playful and at very non-bop tempos.  It reminds me of a comment by Rich Beato about his time in a "jazz coma".  I can understand that and I've been there.  Jazz is such a complex and intellectual form that it can be its own world to be lost in, perhaps missing the ebb and flow of musics.  A once popular form established, perhaps like opera or the classics.  But I digress.  Last night was Victor Rufus Möbius at Sideway.  Five players on stage, improvising to instructions jotted on a board by Victor, occasionally responding to his conducting.  I spoke with keyboardist Hayden and he said it's a favourite outing.  I could imagine it. The sounds are electric, synths and e-bass; the rhythms are syncopated, jumpy, modern, perhaps on- rather than off-beat.  No swing that I remember.  Mostly all in together, layered and insisten, although there was one notable, sharp passage with just Victor and drummer Micah.  Inventive, exploratory, playful and skilled music with some knowing audience to imbibe.  Victor does this with various invited players.  I've seen another outing at Transit Bar with others and still that whiteboard.  Perhaps with invitations to rappers.  I did one stint of spoken word to the amusement of the audience and the band was a fabulous backing, steady then challenging and quickening.  It's not jazz coma but it's still jazz or a product thereof and I love it all.  Nice.  Synths are cool, too.

Victor Rufus (guitar) led another incarnation of Mobius at Subway with Mark Wilson (guitar), Olivia Faletoese (e-bass), Hayden Kinsman (keyboards) and Micah Heathwood (drums).

03 October 2022

From Preacher's haunt to Preacher's

We'd had a jazz gig to attend - tenor, guitar, bass in a bar - but our dinner went too long and they'd packed up. I said hello to the bassist as he left but that's a small satisfaction. But we did catch a classical gig in Hobart. We'd been walking the old Battery Point, the old area with its tiny Georgian houses and large St George's Anglican Church on the hill. This was at St George's. The group was the Hobart Chamber Orchestra of ~35 players from TSO and otherwise, presumably organised as a community orchestra, comprising strings and various wind instruments, even with timpani on the day. Very much in the tradition of MdC and of a similar age (est.1987). The concert started with Nielsen Suite for strings no.1. We'd played it only a few weeks before so this was much on my mind and I love hearing pieces I've played, following along the bass and other lines and the overall interplay and watching the conductor. This was a bigger presentation than that Musica da Camera and I just melted with the lush tone of it all, admired the restrained tempo, enjoyed the tricky quicker lines even if there are not so many. Very nicely, quite professionally done. Then Saint-Saens Intro and rondo capriccioso. Again it's one I'd played so I enjoyed following it. Miranda Carson was solo violin and she played with an earthy, fat tone, quick and proficient. Well done. She's a TSO player. Then a short break and two I didn't know: Shrecker Intermezzo no8 and Chabrier Suite pastorale. The Schrecker was attractive if fairly straightforward. The Chabrier was more trickey, not least a strange waltz to end and various brass throughout. So, a hugely pleasant and impressive outing with the locals. And to top it off, we ran into the remnants of the orchestra celebrating at The Preacher pub after-gig. How's that for shared thinking?

Hobart Chamber Orchestra performed at St George's Anglican church in Battery Point, Hobart, under Gary Wain (conductor) and with soloist Miranda Carson (violin).