REVIEW: WANGARATTA JAZZ 2010
ROGER MITCHELL attempts to sum up Australia’s major festival of improvised music in a few words
WHEN Mike Nock’s New Quintet opened the 21st annual jazz festival at Wangaratta on Friday, the pianist told the audience, “This is jazz. Things happen.”
It was good advice. The festival program had not seemed to promise as much as in recent years. But things happen.
By midnight Saturday, a damp but satisfied audience left Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre still reverberating from a fiery set by saxophonist Oliver Lake’s organ quartet – the festival’s first experience of a Hammond B3 organ.
Patrons did not know a rubber band applied by Melbourne saxophonist Adam Simmons had repaired Oliver Lake’s sax in time for the visiting US quartet to deliver ferocious and virtuosic swing – topping its Friday night outing.
And by midnight Sunday two full houses had been amazed and entranced by the vocal agility and showmanship of Kurt Elling, with his impish humour and homage to jazz greats such as Dexter Gordon.
Belgian pianist Jef Neve’s trio took the international honours with lyricism, excitement and daring, closely followed by Tokyo’s Sisia Natuna, who provided an engrossing set with former Melbourne pianist/composer Aaron Choulai.
It would have been good to hear New York-based Portuguese vocalese singer Sara Serpa exploring more diverse territory.
The inventiveness of Australian musicians was highlighted in pianist composer Stu Hunter’s suites The Muse and The Gathering, with trombonist James Greening’s primal solo a monument to brass.
From Perth, Johannes Luebbers conducted a superb dectet in entrancing and original compositions. The Ian Date Quartet delivered delightful hot jazz and the controlled dynamics of Joe Chindamo’s trio took Simon and Garfunkel’s beautiful song America to new heights.
Sunday’s treats included a nostalgic brass outing from Bob Barnard and his UK mate Roy Williams, a sublime Greg Coffin Trio set and an engaging performance by Andrea Keller’s quartet.
Mike Nock, whose quintet opened with energy and ended in glorious disarray, was correct. At Wangaratta Jazz, things happen.
An abridged version of this review appeared in Melbourne’s Herald Sun on Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Roger Mitchell will be posting more festival reviews on ausjazz.net soon.