31 January 2024


We had a great gig at Molly a few nights back before my Internet died but they all seem that way these days.   Tilt was booked but Dave couldn't play so Mark sat in.  We chatted in the breaks.  Me talking of recent musical discoveries (Domi & JD Beck, Knower) and how they were clear influences of a few gigs I saw in Germany and how jazzers are so often crossing over with rap and more now and how bop is now a thing of 70+ years back and Sean Wayland's concert and his offsiders on Youtube.  James talked of playing with his ex-Army band mates in Dial M and I can vouch for that gig and otherwise with a second cousin (Gemma Sherry) whose most recent album featured some veritable stars (Kenny Barron, Ron Carter). Impressive!  Then my common refrain, that it's all music.  That was confirmed late in the night when I was skipping FM radio stations and heard a track on Triple J that sounded all the world like a Beatles ballad (My love mine all mine / Mitski) then flipped to ABC Classic FM and heard virtually an identical sounding segment (from Scheherazade [study for strings] / David Joseph).  That's confirmation beyond expectations!

29 January 2024

So nice to come home to

It seemed a strange experience to hear James playing with Dial M.  I play with him frequently and yet I heard more when I was in the audience than when I'm playing.  Maybe I'm usually too busy with my own playing although hopefully responding in kind, or maybe he was just playing differently in this context.  Maybe it's a comment on my listening.  Whatever, he played wonderfully and hugely enjoyed  the complex and shifting colours in his harmonies and clear flows and structures in his solos.  Blues pianist Leo was there and commented on harmony and talked of more studies with more time and we both commented on the shelves of books we each had that probably held guidance on all this.  But back to Dial M, they were playing a Cole Porter tribute entitled Songs of love and Loss with five lovely players and some guidance from charts and just the pleasure of the Cole Porter songbook.  Melody Neilsen was singing, strong, involving, so intimately phrased.  She mentioned at the end that she'd dropped the refrain from Night and Day into the start of I've got you under my skin.  I knew both but just felt some incongruity; Megan had recognised the tunes.  Mostly the songs were played with the quintet of Melody and James and Barnaby Briggs and Stephen Richards and invited friend Rouslan Babajanov from Sydney.  Melody obviously enjoyed the interaction and we all felt the joyous playing and presence of Baba: not showy but beautifully smooth and expressive and nicely responsive, including between Melody's sung lines.  Then Barnaby on bass, fluent and beautifully tone (playing with a mic rather than pickup) and sometimes quite explosive with lines that floored me and one solo accompaniment for Melody in Love for sale and Steve, so nicely solid and present and delightfully fluid in one solo with brushes.  The backgrounds of these people showed, capable and easily understated but just delightfully right and apt for the night and the music of Cole Porter and just occasionally explosive for a solo or two.  Such a great songwriter and such a worthy tribute.

Dial M played a tribute to Cole Porter at Smiths.  Dial M comprised Melody Neilsen (vocals), Rouslan (Baba) Babajanov (tenor), James Woodman (piano), Barnaby Briggs (bass) and Stephen Richards (drums).

26 January 2024

Spending Australia Day

This is Australia Day in the old sense meaning a holiday, some time to catch up with mates, not too much cultural hype.  In this case it was a few hours with Richard and Mike and some jamming to end it off.  For the afternoon, I'll have a listen to Mike's latest album of classical music.  Mike writes all manner of music.  I remember playing with him at Moruya Jazz Fest and one night he started playing his originals in the styles of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and the like.  Impressive works that floored me in my pre-classical days.  Then later an album or two of witty jazz tunes.  Now this one, with his piano concerto that I remember playing with NCO at TheQ and a suite and a Celtic rhapsody.  This latest recorded under Maestro Max McBride.  That's for Australia day arvo, to listen to Mike's newest album.

Mike Dooley released another album of classical music, this one called Journeys.  Mike Dooley (piano), Richard Manderson (tenor) and Eric Pozza (bass) jammed on Australia Day.

23 January 2024


It could be 55 Bar, as least it could have been 55 Bar a few years back when it was still open and Sean Wayland was known to play there.  This is the 55 Bar next to the famed Stonewall Inn on Christopher St in NYC and just near W4th St where we once stayed and a few steps from Smalls and Village Vanguard and Blue Note.  Those were the days.  But this was Smiths and Sean Wayland was in town playing with an old sparing buddy Nick McBride and Chris Pound who gigged with him on a visit to NYC.  And it was a madly ecstatic outing.  There was some fully understandable wariness from the offisders for some quick syncopated tunes and the reading therewith.  That immensely witty and busy songwriting that's accompanied by a prog rock synth presence and Moog fatness and gloriously melodic solos.  This is a music of speed and humour and virtuosity of an outgoing nature with perhaps a few soulfully embellished vocals speaking of shortened humdingers (Dinger) or wedding gigs (Club sandwiches)  or homemade synths (G2X Daisy) or failed promises of the Net (Shitformation superhighway) or modulations of some sort (Fried chicken modulations, or locally, Chick roll...) or a cover or two (Men at Work Overkill, Mondo Rock Cruel world) or even a solo ballad (We'll get through).  All with virtuosic fluency and glorious synth tonality and some degree of trepidation in Chris' eyes.  But Chris was funky and impressively on cue in some madly syncopated reads and just a blowout otherwise, and Nick was driving and exemplary and, well, our ex-Sydney NYC- resident of 25 years was just a blast as leader and keyboardist and tone-searching melodist.  Just wow.  A fabulous, infectious, overwhelming outing, in Civic, at 4pm in the afternoon.  Just a blast.  And I heard someone complain that they played a cover.  I couldn't get that.

Sean Wayland (keys) led a trio with Chris Pound (bass) and Nick McBride (drums) at Smiths.

22 January 2024

Threebies no.3

I write this as we pass by Lake George on a Murray's couch and marvel at the current expanse of Lake George.  Water, specifically the Nile, is now central to the experience of Egypt as it was to Egypt and Ramses the Great at the Australian Museum by Hyde Park in Sydney. This was a stunner of an exhibition.  Plenty of stone work, jewellery of metals and stone, sarcophagi and the rest despite a cringe-worthy introductory video that still used BC in place of the now standard BCE.  Virtually all the works on display seemed to be sourced from the Cairo Museum.  I hadn't realised that the Ramses II mummy had been found only recently (1881) given a disguised timber sarcophagus amongst 30 mummies.  I found myself in awe at the displays and photographing everything.  It's a common weakness and closely related to omnipresent mobiles with capable cameras.  His story, of course, is not so welcoming, being of wars and kingly wealth and endless servants doing his bidding and building his indulgences.  But I enjoy thus peak in on the (wealthy) past.  Our local NMA also has an Egyptian exhibition sourced from the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden and a few Australian museums.

Ramses and the gold of the pharaohs is an exhibition at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

21 January 2024

Threebies no.2

As I write this I've just listened to Stravinsky Firebird Suite.  It seems perfect for Kandinsky, of much the same era and presumably sensibilities.  The second of the threebies was also at the Art Gallery of NSW, dated a little later but still encountering world wars and relocations.  This was Louis Bourgeois (1911-2010) of the giant spiders and the NGA wooden comb.  That's about all i knew and she was similarly exploratory although seemingly much less stable.  LB was of Paris, affected by a loving mother and intrusive father, she explored issues of feminist and personal interest with reference to her own experience.  At least as I saw it.  The spiders were mammoth metal constructions that you could walk through, often protecting a space, thus maternal (although threatening in one incarnation).  She worked in a range of media, plenty of sculpture in timber, metals, wool and fabrics, glass, marble, but also written words and drawings, often the two together.  She moved with a husband to NYC and he died suddenly, she had three children and we explore motherhood with her.  Megan and I wondered that this role seemed limited to child bearing rather than rearing, but our psychotherapist friend Karen suggested she was exploring motherhood rather than being a mother (did I get that right, Karen?).  Karen was also intrigued and professionally impressed by a work on sublimation which comprised words (and a video of her speaking these words) and accompanying drawings.  The exhibition was in the new glassed modernist building (the day)  and finished in the subterranean Tank below (the night), once a fuel tank for naval ships during the war, now a brooding, dark, tall, columned space of dust and odours.  This day's outing does seem a challenging one of modernism and perhaps instability at least from LB.  But intriguing.

Has the day invaded the night or has the night invaded the day? was a retrospective of the work of Louise Bourgeois at the Art Gallery of NSW with assistance from the Easton Foundation of NY and various private and public collectors.

20 January 2024

Threebies no.1

Those visiting friends were off to Sydney, pretty much for one day, and we went too.  That day was big.  First visit was to the Art Gallery of NSW for Kandinsky.  I remember my first encounter with Kandinksy, in Oxford.  Sweeps of colour and form and no obvious subject.  This was he same Kandinsky but a retrospective like this can help interpretation.  The works were mainly from NYC (Guggenheim).  Intriguingly we started with a video of him painting, how his forms developed quickly and intuitively.  Early works seemed somewhat impressionistic so we could see people and places but that developed through time and eras with various interpretations by strings of admirers.  When younger he studied law and had a possible professorship but was drawn to Munich and art.  He wrote a significant work of art theory and for a time worked as a senior art bureaucrat.  He was friend of many great artists of various formats, painters but also authors and more, an influencer, not least through his time teaching at the Bauhaus, variously resident through Europe, subject to all manner of difficulties and changes due to politics and wars, living in the time of World Wars and revolutions in Russia, Germany, France and dying in Paris shortly after its liberation. Handsome, too.  I can find such modernism and abstraction a bit hard to take, as people find various arts of this time, but I mellowed through the exhibition even if some commentary could raise a smile.  "I know of nothing more real than the paining of Kandinsky ... He organises matter as matter was organised, otherwise the universe would not exist.  He opened a window to look inside the All." (Diego Rivera). "Kandinsky's shift towards biomorphic imagery ... finds echoes in the exploration of invisible worlds and new knowledges being discovered by modern science.  Around 1934, other kinds of signs entered Kandinsky's pictorial vocabulary too: exclamation and quotation marks".  "... a lunar orb glows in the expanse beyond an open doorway, which is connected to a set of stairs with no physical support.  This could be a portal to the cosmos, or some indeterminate space beyond the picture plane, in a probable nod to alternative dimensions or the capacity for mystical ascendance."  My intellectual or spiritual appreciation may be more limited than demanded by the commentary having seen double bass mutes in one painting and an Egyptian cartouche in another, but I could feel the colour and movement and shapes and I could accept one or two on my wall so I learnt something.

The Kandinsky exhibition was curated with the Guggenheim Gallery NYC and is on display at the Art Gallery of NSW.

18 January 2024

Friends visiting

Friends visiting? Pretty obvious but we went off to MOAD, Old Parliament House, and the latest Between the Lines exhibition of political cartoons. I remembered a few but there were cartoonists that I didn't know from papers I don't read. My favourites were there: David Pope, Kathy Wilcox, Fiona Katsaukas, First Dog on the Moon. Fiona Katsaukus won Cartoonist of the year and it's a worthy win. I've long admired our own local David Pope of the incredible illustrations but either he's got more obtuse or I've got less astute. But Kathy W and Fiona K are always amusingly sketchy and pithy and Fiona has those great watercolours. Otherwise, the topics of the Australian news year were there: inflation, cost of living, housing, climate change, the Voice, Labour pusillanimity; generally the tragedies of the year although missing a few, but there are so many these days and the display is only so big. Otherwise a visit to the party rooms and Bob Hawke's office and the chambers to marvel at the intimacy of the old parliament, the tiny offices and the funny old technologies (electric typewriters and coloured phones) and the lovely old timber. It wasn't really so long ago. The new Parliament House only opened in 1988 but it's really a new world. Plus just one cartoon from an ANU staff office door a few days earlier.

Behind the lines is an annual display of political cartoons at the Museum of Australian Democracy (MOAD) in Old Parliament House.

13 January 2024

Lazy January

We are in Beechworth for a few days having avoided floods and feeling the heat and looking for some music in a small, very touristy and quite historical, country town (Ned Kelly, gold, Chinese heritage, wines). We have a long-term connection here so it's not just an odd visit. I usually peruse the mainstreet for posters for gigs and events but it was pretty sparse this time. A DJ on the Friday was it. Walking towards Tanswell's Pub, the main pub in the main street, we could hear music but this sounded live, country, guitar/vocal. This was just next door, in a beer garden. Jack Raymond was a local product, from Harrietsville, now Queensland, and was down to perform in Bright and picked up this gig in Beechworth. A good, sturdy, confident, singer/guitarist. I only caught a few bars of a last song then a farewell and an encore on Canned Heat On the road again. I remember teenage driving with mates to this music, so it hit a chord, we could say. Then on to the pub and the DJ. No-one in the room when we walked in but I got to chat with DJ Arthur Gadon then a pic with some female friends who happened in, then a few minutes in the front bar and a return for the event. I liked the good solid beats (House to DnB) and could see it expressed in the dancers' involvement and could see how that could so easily fade with weaker beats. I could mention Victor Vergaara and Martin Solvieg and remixes by Steve Aoki and Mark Anthony Boucher, but it was just cheating with Shazam. I don't think I'd heard any of the tunes before but I can enjoy them. Maybe it's partly why I enjoyed Skepta & Amy Winehouse Can't Play Myself (A Tribute To Amy) when I came on it on Triple J next morning. It's all music and we have our preferences and there's plenty in the DJ field I can enjoy. No, not quite Leipzig but Beechworth has its own fascinations.

Jack Raymond (vocals, guitar) and Arthur Gadon (DJ) performed in the mainstreet of Beechworth on a summery Friday night.