AN ITALIAN COLLABORATION

Enrico Rava

Enrico Rava                       (Image supplied)

ALBUM LAUNCH:

The Monash Sessions: Enrico Rava, Thursday 30 October at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne

It has become a tradition for Monash University to arrange for its students of improvised music to learn from some of the world’s great jazz musicians, either by having them visit or by taking the students overseass. The results of these working sessions have resulted in significant recordings in The Monash Sessions project — a recording initiative by Associate Professor and Head of School, Robert Burke, and Jazzhead.

Now, before Italy’s trumpet maestro Enrico Rava makes his headline appearance at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, Jazzhead is thrilled to announce the release of the 11-track album The Monash Sessions: Enrico Rava. The album will effectively be launched twice, on Thursday 30 October at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne and on the following evening at Wangaratta. Rava, in Australia for the first time, will be joined by staff and students.

In December last year, 35 jazz students from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music travelled to the Monash University Prato Centre in Italy to undertake an intensive three-week performance unit. As part of their study, students were given the opportunity to perform and record with Rava, one of the seminal figures of the European jazz scene.

Rava, an ECM artist, has released over 50 albums during his career, performing alongside greats such as Gil Evans, Cecil Taylor, Joe Henderson, John Abercrombie, Pat Metheny, and Dave Douglas.

The Monash Sessions: Enrico Rava was mixed and mastered at the Sonoria Recording Plant in Prato, Italy, by Andrea Benassai, and produced by Robert Burke and Mirko Guerrini.

It features music faculty members Paul Grabowsky (piano), Rob Burke and Mirko Guerrini (saxophones), Stephen Magnusson (guitar) as well as students Josh Kelly (alto), Paul Cornelius (tenor), Stephen Byth (tenor), pianists Daniel Mougerman and Joel Trigg, bassists Josh Manusama and Hiroki Hoshino, and drummers Rob Mercer, Cameron Sexton and Zeke Ruckman.

Jazzhead describes this album, recorded over two days, as having “a distinct Italian approach”, and being “relaxed but distinctly intense”. “Noted are the beautiful trumpet sound and passionate lyrical lines produced by Rava, conveying potent meaning and harmonic perfection.”

MONASH SESSIONS: ENRICO RAVA – TOUR DATES

Oct 30 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne
Oct 31 WPAC Theatre, Wangaratta Jazz Festival

BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE — WANGARATTA

James Greening

The inimitable James Greening, leader of Greening From Ear to Ear

A FESTIVAL GUIDE:

Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival, Friday 31 October to Monday 3 November.

It’s that time of year when excitement and an air of expectation begin to override all the mundane matters of life, necessary as they are, and the longing rises to be on the road again to Wangaratta.

Once the bags are packed and the journey has begun, there is that delicious interlude when speculation can occur on what unexpected delights may arise — what special moments in a concert will take you out of the straight-line world and into total absorption.

There will always be the appeal of the international artists, who bring a different perspective and virtuosic skills. But the special moments — or whole sets — may come when they, along with Australian jazz players, join old friends or musicians new to them and go in an unexpected direction. These are the serendipitous moments that will be remembered.

The challenge for patrons, then, is to be in the right place at the right time.

As posted back in July, Artistic Director Adrian Jackson‘s line-up for the long weekend of jazz and blues features more than 300 musicians in more than 80 concerts on the main program, and more than 30 concerts on the Main Street free stages. So there is plenty of potential for magic moments.

Jeff 'Tain" Watts

Jeff ‘Tain” Watts        (Image supplied)

International artists include European jazz, trumpet and flugelhorn maestro Enrico Rava (Italy); Grammy Award winning drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts (USA) with his band, which includes New York-based expatriate Australian saxophonist out of Perth, Troy Roberts; and composer/trumpeter Laura Watts (USA), who spent time in Brisbane years ago.

Lisa Parrot

Lisa Parrot                              (Image supplied)

Also, New York-based saxophonist, formerly of Sydney, Lisa Parrot, returns to the festival two decades after being runner-up in the National Jazz Awards (Saxophone) in 1994.

Anyone looking for a serendipitous moment should be in WPAC Theatre at 8.30pm Sunday 2 November when Rava will reunite with drum maestro Niko Schauble‘s Papa Carlo in the line-up that recorded their album Night Music in 1995.

Another reunion to watch will come in two gigs by  Spoke (USA), in which drummer Danny Fischer will get together with the band, including Andy Hunter on trombone, formed when Fischer was living in New York in 2006.

And keep an ear out for  Roger Manins, who will slip over from New Zealand to re-form his band Hip Flask, featuring Stu Hunter on organ.

Australian musicians are certain to contribute distinctive and inventive highlights on the program, among them being the Australian Art Orchestra’s Louis Armstrong-inspired work Struttin’ With Some Barbecue, conceived and composed/arranged by Eugene Ball and AAO Artistic Director Peter Knight, which uses Armstrong’s letters to reframe the smiling entertainer’s facade and reveal his pain. Guest performers for this Friday evening gig will be drummer Allan Browne, Sydney turntablist Martin Ng and PNG-born pop artist Ngaire. Expect the unexpected in this work, premiered at MONA in Tasmania and described thus: “If Louis Armstrong went to the moon instead of Neil Armstrong it would have sounded like this.”

Issho

Jessica Carlton’s band Issho   (Image supplied)

Good things come out of Perth, I always say of jazz talent, but they also come out of Monash University, which is a kernel of creativity. Young trumpeter-composer Jessica Carlton won the Monash Jazz Prize with a piece played by Issho, the band she formed in 2012. The sextet includes Tim Willis, leader of The End. Expect to be delighted.

And, though I’ve never heard them play, I’m already grinning from ear to ear at the prospect of enjoying Greening From Ear to Ear, a septet formed by the inimitable James Greening (adding tuba and sousaphone to his trombone and to-die-for pocket trumpet) including Andrew Robson on alto and baritone sax. If this is not a festival highlight then I’m a fan of Scott Morrison.

In the National Jazz Awards year of guitar, judges James Muller and Stephen Magnusson will make a rare collaboration in a quartet format with Danny Fischer and Frank Di Sario on bass. Expect them to explore the works of John Scofield and Pat Metheny.

Already I can feel the pressure of festival clashes building, but for lovers of the elegant and uplifting venue Holy Trinity Cathedral, pianist and composer Tony Gould will perform in duo concerts with multi-instrumentalist Adam Simmons and, a little surprisingly, with Hoodangers trombonist Ben Gillespie. Hard to resist these if you’re looking for memorable gigs.

And in that listening space, Paul Grabowsky AO and Steve Grant will each perform solo piano concerts on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, this year’s Don Banks Award winner Mike Nock, who has provided many memorable moments at Wangaratta, nationally and internationally, will play in a Trio Plus Two at WPAC Theatre.

Put Tim Neal on the WPAC Theatre stage with his Hammond B3, add Dave Beck on drums and I’m already in the front row. But Stephen Magnusson’s Kinfolk also has Frank Di Sario, so expect seats to be hard to find for this Sunday arvo outing.

A quintet led by pianist Sam Keevers will play compositions by the late great Bernie McGann, ensuring his inspirational work stays with us.

And The Hoodangers may shock visiting New Zealanders, given that the Gulf News reportedly described their performance in that country in this way: “The egotistical performers …their names are not worth mentioning…..should not be invited to spread their ‘smut’ on our beautiful island and attract such ‘slutty’ behaviour from our young!!”

Many more bands deserve mention, but for serendipitous moments and memorable gigs those mentioned are likely candidates. But who knows what will be the highlights for the many patrons now looking forward to Friday.  Being in the right place is the key, and Wangaratta is the right place this Cup weekend.

ROGER MITCHELL

The National Jazz Awards feature guitarists this year and top 10 finalists will compete for the increased prize pool of $12,000. The 10 finalists are:

  • Michael Anderson, 32, from Sydney
  • Quentin Angus, 27, from New York (originally from Adelaide)
  • David Gooey, 30, from Melbourne
  • Ryan Griffith, 34, from Melbourne
  • Peter Koopman, 25, from Sydney
  • Paul Mason, 23, from Sydney
  • Carl Morgan, 26, from Sydney (originally from Canberra)
  • Hugh Stuckey, 29, from Melbourne (originally from Adelaide)
  • Jeremy Thomson, 22, from Perth
  • Oliver Thorpe, 22, from Sydney

For the usual excellent profiles of the finalists, visit Miriam Zolin’s jazz publishing website.

PARIS ON A GUITAR STRING

Alex Stuart

Alex Stuart performs at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in 2012

AUSTRALIAN TOUR: Alex Stuart Quintet

The title of this post will mean little to many, but it alludes to the first Lonely Planet guide that I ever used, South-East Asia on a Shoestring, which accompanied me on the trek up through the wilds of Java and Sumatra and beyond many, many years ago.

But I digress. We have come to expect — and look forward to — visits home by expatriate musician Alex Stuart from his adopted home in France.

The guitarist (www.alexstuartmusic.com/) is back from Paris this month and joins some of Australia’s top jazz musicians to launch his new album Place to Be. Stuart moved to France in 2005 after graduating from the ANU School of Music in Canberra.

His Australian tour follows the album’s launch in May at Paris’s Sunset Jazz Club. The album, released by the French label Gaya / Abeille Musique, has received many enthusiastic critical responses there, including Nouvelle-Vague magazine’s “balanced to perfection … one of the best jazz albums of the year – 5 stars” and national radio station France Musique’s “an absolutely superb album … music that shimmers”.

In Australia, ABC Jazz made it a “feature album”, while The Australian’s John McBeath praised it and gave it 4 out 5 stars.

Stuart has been immersed in the rich and varied musical cultures of the Paris jazz scene and, through a residency in Kolkata, in the Hindustani classical tradition. He is well recognised in Europe, known for his 2010 album, Around, and winning the prestigious 2011 Révelation prize at the Jazz à Juan jazz festival. In 2012 he played at the Wangaratta Festival and in 2013 he was nominated for the Freedman Jazz Scholarship.

Stuart says he welcomes opportunities to return to Australia, the country that has influenced his music in many ways and “has also directly inspired several of my compositions, most recently the Place to Be track Cuttagee, Wapengo, which comes from fond memories of the NSW Far South Coast”.

Describing Place to Be as an “ode to cultural openness”, Stuart says he finds inspiration in many places, “including the jazz tradition, contemporary jazz, African and South American grooves, rock and post-rock, Indian and Balkan music, Australia, life in Paris’s 19th arrondissement and the sea and surfing”.

For his quintet on tour, Stuart Alex has three-time Bell Jazz Awards winner Julien Wilson on saxophone, ARIA award winner and founder of the band Wanderlust, Miroslav Bukovsky on trumpet, winner of several Bell and other jazz awards Jonathan Zwartz  on double bass, and on drums Tim Firth, who won the 2011 National Jazz Award at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.

Alex Stuart

Alex Stuart at Bennetts in 2012

Alex Stuart’s tour dates:

  • Tuesday 21 October: MJC / Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, 25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne
  • Wednesday 22 October: Venue 505, 280 Cleveland St Surry Hills, Sydney
  • Saturday 25 October: Wollongong Conservatorium of Music, Wollongong
  • Sunday 26 October: Zephyrs Jazz, Four Winds Windsong Pavilion, Barragga Bay, (near Bermagui) NSW
  • Monday 27 October: The Street Theatre, Canberra

 Alex will also play as a quartet at MONA and other venues in Tasmania between 30 October and 1 November.

ROGER MITCHELL

 

FROM NOW OM, LET US CHILL

Leo Dale

Leo Dale                                              (Image: James Boddington)

CD LAUNCH: Leo Dale’s From Now Om, Saturday 25 October 8pm Northcote Uniting Church, 251 High St, Northcote $20 / $10 conc (admission includes a CD)

Of all people, I would probably benefit most from this example by Leo Dale‘s diverse and continuing creativity. After a year in which I have spent most of my waking hours in front of a computer screen, working to deadlines or moving gradually forward on a long-term project that is now close to completion, I would benefit from being able to chill and to lose stress.

From now on, that’s a key aim for me, but at this stage I’m just trying to be aware of the stress and not to judge. That said, I am unfit, overweight and sedentary. And I need music.

Track one of From Now Om is almost five minutes long and I’d love to have a whole album of its fusion of saxophone and cello with chanted Om.

The remaining track consists of 40 minutes of  meditative chanting, with six voices singing Om together in a harmonic series that Leo describes as a “human tamboura that invokes deep peace”. Leo sings each Om as six notes of the harmonic series. He says each one of these voices is vibrating in sympathy with the lowest as well as with each other.

In the live performance of this work, Leo will sit on a large rug with a laptop and looping software. A cello loop will play and then one by one he will layers six voices on top of each other, singing Om. For the technically minded, he describes it as “the intervals are the same as the harmonic series, the fundamental note One octave above one octave and a fifth two octaves Two octaves and a third Two octave and a fifth”. That was confusing to me, but I am sure it is not necessary to understand that to appreciate the result.

Leo visits India every year and he had the idea for this album in 2011 while singing overtone harmonies to the sound of priests chanting in the temple in Ganeshpuri. As he explains it, “Every note, every string, every horn, every voice is made from sound vibrations. Each sound is made from one main pitch (the fundamental) and mixed in, some other notes at lower volumes (harmonics). If you think of a skipping rope in the schoolyard, the rope is like a big vibrating string. That big loop is the fundamental, the main note you can hear in a guitar string. If you then put some extra energy into the skipping rope, you can get two loops going. Each loop is half the length of the rope and in a vibrating guitar string this harmonic is up one octave. Similarly that string is also vibrating with three loops, four loops etc. These notes exist in lower volumes in all music, speech and sounds in general. This is the harmonic series.”

CDs available here – http://tinyurl.com/o2z7x9u
Buy the album on iTunes – http://tinyurl.com/nzc49nj
Read more about the music here: http://fromnowom.com/

And Leo posts:

The album sounds like this

UPTOWN HOSTS PAPER TIGER

Paper Tiger

CD LAUNCH: Paper Tiger, featuring Oehlers/Magnusson/Vanderwal at Uptown Jazz Cafe, 8.30pm (two sets)

To give a taste of what’s in store, here is Uptown’s take on proceedings:

“Jamie Oehlers (tenor and soprano saxophones), Stephen Magnusson (guitar) and Ben Vanderwal (drums) are three widely recognised and acclaimed Australian jazz artists, who came together in 2013 to perform each others’ original material in Perth and Melbourne.

“The results were undeniably strong – so much so that they are getting back together again in Melbourne to record a new album over this week, with this performance being a prequel to that recording.

“With distinctly different writing styles, the material will be diverse, drawn together by the always clear and unique voices of these three exceptional musicians.”

And here’s another take on this album:

“In 2013 these three fine musicians got together to perform and enjoyed the results so much they coaxed each other to go into the studio and record an album. Once in there, with the red light on they couldn’t stop, they tied the sound engineer to his chair and proceeded to record 15 songs (all available on their new release, Paper Tiger.

“The resulting music is a diverse range of colours, grooves and timbres. Each member has a very distinct writing style but the compositions are approached as a collective. You can hear the band revelling in the freedom of the bass less trio format and revelling in the knowledge they do not have to check in a double bass at the oversize counter the next day.”

Paper Tiger features five compositions by Oehlers, three each by Magnusson and Vanderwal, as well as pieces by each of Keith Jarrett, Frank Loesser, Ornette Coleman and Stephen Foster.

And our ABC has this to say about the album:

“Audacious but approachable, eclectic yet focused, Paper Tiger presents a new instrumental trio. No stranger to each other, each member is a highly regarded improvising Australian: guitarist Stephen Magnusson, saxophonist Jamie Oehlers and drummer Ben Vanderwal.

Paper Tiger has compositions by each member of the trio, plus very fresh explorations of other composers’ work – from Ornette Coleman to Stephen Foster.

“So limber is this trio that a casual listener may be surprised to discover it ‘lacks’ a bass player. Good humour, lyricism and surprise are abundant.”

Jamie Oehlers

Jamie Oehlers

MONASH FREE-FOR-ALL AT IWAKI

Paul Grabowsky

Paul Grabowsky at work.

PREVIEW:

Monash Art Ensemble Friday 3 October 7:30pm at the Iwaki Auditorium, free

There’s a lot on in Melbourne tonight. First up, at 7.30pm, the always exciting Monash Art Ensemble presents its third and final project for 2014, featuring the world premiere of three new compositions and one classic work.

From 8.30pm, at Uptown Jazz Cafe, there will be two sets to launch Paper Tiger, a new album from Stephen Magnusson, Jamie Oehlers and Ben Vanderwal. But more of that in a separate post.

The Iwaki concert will comprise American modernist composer Milton Babbitt’s All Set, which is a rarely performed work of third stream music, a synthesis of classical music and jazz; Andrew Harrison’s Gassed Shell (Severe) explores his grandfather’s WW1 experiences; Confluence by lauded pianist and composer Joseph O’Connor was written specifically for the Monash Art Ensemble, and a new work, for e.e. cummings, by the ensemble’s director Paul Grabowsky completes the program.

Andrew Harrison has written for theatre, film and the concert hall. His signature compositional style draws upon the art music and jazz traditions, challenging the boundaries between improvisation and conventional music notation.

Gassed Shell (Severe) continues his musical exploration of his family’s battlefield experiences in World War I. Commissioned by Paul Grabowsky and the Monash Art Ensemble, Gassed Shell (Severe) draws on the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, where his grandfather was wounded in action by mustard gas. Harrison’s composition interweaves excerpts from his grandfather’s war record with Wilfred Owen’s profound anti­war poem Dulce Et Decorum Est. The title of the work comes from his grandfather’s casualty report.

Joseph O’Connor took out the 2013 National Jazz Award and the 2014 Bell Jazz prize for Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year. His new composition Confluence is written specifically for the Monash Art Ensemble and celebrates the thorny atonality and rhythmic volatility of American modernism composers in sequences of detailed notation. Each member of the ensemble will bring their personal histories to the work through improvisation in the central movements.

Milton Babbitt was an American composer, music theorist and teacher noted for his serial and electronic music. All Set was commissioned in 1957 and is seen as the definitive melding of jazz and serial music. As Paul Grabowsky puts it, “His compositional and intellectual wisdom has influenced a wide range of contemporary musicians and is a groundbreaker in the kind of new music that the Monash Art Ensemble is championing.”

Paul Grabowsky is composing a brand new ensemble piece for this concert.  for e.e. cummings will build on his already extensive record of award-winning works.

 

BE QUICK TO CATCH SLOW MUSIC

FOSM-Program-2014-1_500x

It’s another beautiful day for a drive, so consider catching the last day of the incredibly comprehensive Festival of Slow Music in Ballarat.

Many wonderful performances have taken place already, but for those able to make it today there are plenty still to come, including a finale that will involve many of the musicians involved earlier.

Don’t be misled by the “slow music” title — it does not meant there will be no rapidity or fast-paced musical offerings. The philosophy behind this festival is explained below.

The best way to find out what’s on today is to visit the Festival of Slow Music website. (That’s not only because the website is fantastic, but because I could not extract text from the PDF media release, though I did try.)

Here is a link to the festival program in PDF form.

Meantime, if you are not familiar with this festival, here is some background taken from that website:

“I want to create an annual festival where people can take time to listen and engage with the music and the artists, where new collaborations can grow, and where people will experience the ability that music has to refresh, inspire and astonish.”

Adam Simmons — Artistic Director

The Festival of Slow Music is an opportunity to experience music of all genres in intimate spaces and to learn more about the musicians behind the sounds.

The Festival of Slow Music reflects the philosophy of the Slow Food movement but with the focus on the sensation of hearing, with all of the concerts being totally acoustic. The idea of Slow Music is to promote a more direct connection to the musical experience through meeting the musicians, learning about their musical aspirations, listening to natural, unamplified sounds and taking the time to hear a performance in full.
The Festival of Slow Music is about an approach to listening and experiencing music – it is not a description of the music, which will range from slow to fast, soft to loud, beautiful to ugly, old to new. It is not the music that will be slow, but the listening – the audience will be encouraged to slow down and enjoy the experience.

The Festival of Slow Music comes out of the Portraits Concert Series at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, also curated by Adam Simmons over several years, and aims to highlight the region’s rich artistic heritage and the strong contemporary music and arts scene.

This second festival year builds on its 2013 debut, presenting an exciting and ambitious program. It is not about a label or genre but rather the experience across the festival period that will develop and define the concept of “slow music”.