24 January 2023


Then band no. 2, Greg Stott's Test Pilots.  Very different even if one tune harked to Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin and thus perhaps a hint at the Swamp jazz.  But no, this was different.  A mix of two generations, the senior partners up front and the rhythm section, a piano trio, behind.  Not that the front line took all.  The music was, in some ways, defined by the intense funky, loud and immensely driving grooves.  That is until a guitar took off with its own drive, meaning distortion, hot and loud and fast and indulgent.  Nothing like Greg at the National Press Club and so, so, so much fun.  I could drool over the sweeps, that signature of Canberra's own US guitar hero, Frank Gambale.  Greg was all over it.  And John, of course, always a master.  I found his solos more clear and easier to follow in this groove context.  I remember just how one simple rising arpeggio run followed by a scalar return took my breath away, as obvious a thing as it seems.  But the youngsters got their time in the headlights, too.  No slouches.  Jamie on Rhodes was a melodic but also rhythmically intense soloist, then I admired a spot where he sat out for variation and clarity.  That's mature.  And Haris, all rhythms and octaves on the chord notes surprised with a busily melodic final solo, and Peter, replacing Nic McBride no less, all concentration and sharp funky intensity, blew us out with several short filler solos then a final blow of concentration and momentum towards the end.  Greg led it all and introduced it all.  First up a medley in honour of recently deceased Jeff Beck, Mingus Goodbye porkpie hat leading into 'Cos we ended as lovers.  Those immense strained guitar tones boded well.  Then into three Greg originals, all grooves and complex melodic passages, Cipher, Alea iacta est (the tune in honour of Earnest Ranglin) and Blood nut.  Then Peter Gabriel Don't give up, for its play on timing, and Fuego, another Greg original and base for a final blow for all, a swinger with walking bass over rock drum line.  By this time I was chuckling with the daring and excitement of it all.  What a blast.

Greg Stott's Test Pilots played at Smiths and comprised Greg Stott (guitar), John Mackey (tenor), Jamie Rea (Rhodes), Haris Hodzic (bass) and Peter Campion (drums).

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