13 March 2024

A funky Heaven

If you keep your eyes peeled and know the scene you can happen on a great event, a visit or gathering, variously social and musical, that's a memory maker.  Peter O'Mara at Smiths was one of those.  It was a small audience and a decent sized band (6).  There were old mates and influences and shared histories and now mature skills and notable occupations.  James Greening was there as his vibrant, jovial and immensely capable self, as coordinator and interface but also so-inviting trombonist.  Of course, so was Peter O'Mara, very early influenced by Miro (in the '70s?) and warmly recognising it, now Professor at a Hochschule for music in Munich, in a building once the office of Hitler, no less, blaring away with dirty distorted lines or clear chordal parts.  Peter's return visit was the excuse for this gig.  And John was there, blistering on tenor but also very simple and bluesy on another tune if always with the quick and twisting phrase immediately available but never abused.  And Hamish, solid and understated and always, always, correct and apt.  They were playing a tribute to Jacky Ozsasky, famed and loved for his funky bands and arrangements.  Perhaps they had all played with him at various times.  They played a few of his arrangements this night amongst some PO'M originals and arrangements, including of Miro's passionately beautiful Peace please.  Lachlan was a picking force on his Fender 6 bass and was probably the only one not to have played with JO (Lachlan?).  Then to top it off, Dale Barlow, another of this family, arrived with flute to play the second set.  He'd been expected to play the previous Sunday at but couldn't in the end, so this was the opportunity to catch him.  A mate described him as veritable Australian jazz royalty, apparently the only Aussie to have played with the famed Jazz Messengers.  Then we learn from stage chatter that Dale played his first recording on Peter's first album.  The family history continues.  So what of the music?  Apart from the basics of the chops and the huge inventiveness of these top flight players, it was spectacular and alive and joyous and infectious.  As were the tunes.  Miro's Peace please is emotionally entrancing but there was also James Brown funk and Amin grooves and classic Freddie Hubbard '70s funk (Red clay) and Peter original fusion.  I was in Heaven but I was not alone.

Peter O'Mara (guitar) visited Smiths to play with a band of old mates comprising Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet, flugelhorn), James Greening (trombone), John Mackey (tenor), Lachlan Coventry (bass) and Hamish Stewart (drums) and Dale Barlow (flute) sat in for the second set.

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