UPTOWN’S WORTH CONSIDERING

Andrea Keller

Andrea Keller on piano at the 2015 Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival

PREVIEW

Album launch, Uptown Jazz Cafe, Sunday, July 3 at 8pm

Our perpetually smiling (currently caretaker) Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has exhorted us to help make this country “agile”, by which I have taken him to mean that we must be readily adaptable to all sorts of changes … such as “no cuts” meaning lots of cuts, or copper wire NBN rather than fibre, or jobs’n’growth being without penalty rates or superannuation.

But you may never heard more agile saxophone than Tim Wilson‘s on the new album, Consider This, that he and Andrea Keller will launch tonight at Uptown, presented by the Melbourne Jazz Co-op. And you may never have a more satisfying union (that’s to upset Malcolm) than this unity of piano with reeds.

Recorded live at Bennetts Lane in 2015, it features seven original compositions, captured in all their raw beauty. Here’s some video footage from the night of the recording.

Consider This is available through Bandcamp.

Bassist Chris Hale will join the duo for the second set.

Keller and Wilson say their project was “conceived in 2007 out of a mutual respect and love for open, interactive music making, and a desire to create and explore original compositions and improvisations in an intimate duo format”.

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

These musicians met when they were studying at Victorian College of the Arts and have been performing together for over 20 years in ensembles such as the Paul Williamson Sextet and the Bennetts Lane Big Band.

Keller is a three-time Aria Award winner, recipient of the Freedman Fellowship and also the Don Banks Fellowship. Wilson was a finalist in the 2006 World Saxophone Competition (held at the BBC Jazz Festival in London), the 2009 National Jazz Awards, and runner up in the 2013 Taichung Saxophone Competition.

Only a limited number of albums will be pressed because the musicians are  focusing on releasing the recording digitally.

ROGER MITCHELL

FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLLED IN 2016

Joe Chindamo

Mike Nock and Albert Dadon watch as Joe Chindamo responds to his induction into the Graeme Bell Hall of Fame.

NEWS

Australian Jazz Bell Awards 
2016

The word is well and truly out on this year’s winners of the Australian Jazz Bell Awards and the Graeme Bell Hall of Fame recipient. The awards ceremony at Bird’s Basement on Monday 20 June were photographed and filmed by so many that it was often difficult for those at the tables to catch sight of those handing over the awards, the prize winners and the performers — which included the “house band” and winning artists.

This was the first of the Bells, named in honour of one of the greats in Australian jazz — the late Graeme Bell, MBE AO — to be held at Albert Dadon’s relatively new venue Bird’s Basement and the host showed obvious pride in his establishment and its capability to host such an event.

It worked pretty well. The food was excellent, wine flowed freely and Dadon even told the punters to keep quiet and listen while the band —  Phil Turcio on piano, Philip Rex on bass and Darryn Farrugia on drums — delivered upbeat and strong jazz. There was a good roll-up and, if anything, the numbers at each table, coupled with the fairly large chairs, meant there was less circulation by guests than in previous years because it was hard for some to get out of their seats easily.

The lighting — which I appreciate is not the point of the night — was nevertheless pretty awful, so that speakers at the mic were backlit by the screen behind and not lit at all from the front. (Those of us taking some photographs notice these things.)

This year, for the first time, nominations were accepted from voting members of the Australian Jazz Academy and the shortlist of nominees in each category judged by critics and jazz professionals from Australia and overseas.

Judges were Albert Dadon AM, Adrian Jackson, Martin Jackson, Gerry Koster, John McBeath, Carl Griffin, Thomas Glagow and Laurence Donahue-Greene.

Here are a few shots of the winners:

(I have left the other nominees in the list because they came close and deserve to share some glory.)

Best Australian Jazz Ensemble

David Theak

David Theak accepts the Bell Award on behalf of the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra.

Winner: Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra2015 Live Performance Compilation
Daniel SusnjarThe Daniel Susnjar Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group
Mace Francis OrchestraMusic For Average Photography

Best Australian Small Jazz Band (Up to 6 members)

Eugene Ball

Eugene Ball accepts the award on behalf of the Allan Browne Quintet.

Winner: Allan Browne Quintet – Ithaca Bound
Barney McAll + A.S.I.O. (Australian Symbiotic Improvisers Orbit) – Mooroolbark
Alister Spence TrioAlister Spence Trio: Live

Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year (Musicians up to and including 25 years of age)

Olivia Chindamo

Olivia Chindamo with her Bell Award.

Winner: Olivia ChindamoKeep An Eye On Spring
James McLeanCounter Clockwork
Niran DasikaManticore (Phantom)

Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album

Kristin Berardi

Kristin Berardi accepts her Bell Award.

Winner: Kristin BerardiWhere Or When
Vince Jones + Paul GrabowskyProvenance
Olivia ChindamoKeep An Eye On Spring

Best Produced Album

Mike Nock

What a wonderful smile: Mike Nock accepts the Bell Award for him and Laurence Pike.

Winners: Mike Nock/ Laurence PikeBeginning And End of Knowing
Barney McAllMooroolbark
Angela DavisLady Luck

Best Australian Jazz Song/Composition of the Year

Barney McAll

Barney McAll speaks after receiving his Bell Award for Nectar Spur.

Winner: Barney McAllNectar Spur (Mooroolbark)
Julien Wilson QuartetWeeping Willow (This Narrow Isthmus)
Angela DavisA thousand Feet from Bergen Street (Lady Luck)

Best Instrumental Jazz Album

Barney McAll

Barney McAll accepts his Bell Award for the album Mooroolbark.

Winner: Barney McAllMooroolbark
Angela DavisLady Luck
Julien Wilson QuartetThis Narrow Isthmus

When the Hall of Fame inductee was announced, Joe Chindamo spoke for a while and then invited daughter Olivia to join him to perform. That was a fitting way to end the night.

Joe and Olivia Chindamo

Joe and Olivia Chindamo perform together as Bell recipients.

That’s about it for the evening, folks. Congratulations to those who came first and also to the runners up. It was my birthday and I left fairly early, so I have no gossip to impart.

My thanks to Prue Bassett.

I hope to post a few more images soon.

Roger Mitchell

 

 

Visit the Bell Awards website for more information.

A WARM VIBE THAT JOY RADIATED

Allysha Joy

Allysha Joy performs with 30/70 Collective at The Reverence Hotel, Footscray

REVIEW

A Brother Scratch and 30/70 Collective, The Reverence Hotel, Footscray, Saturday 4 June, 2016 at 8pm for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival

I’m always keen to support live music in the western suburbs of Melbourne and the fact that Michael Tortoni, artistic director of the festival, has links to this part of town has brought a welcome stream of MIJF gigs over the past few years.

The program promised an evening of “gritty and soulful tunes” and “signature hypnotic grooves”, which pretty much turned out to be accurate. I was sure I’d be the oldest person there by some decades, which also turned out to be true.

As thoroughly uneducated in this style of music, I can’t give an informed review. There were certainly elements of hip-hop, rap, soul and jazz, so that the beat wasn’t everything and there was plenty of variation to make this interesting music.

The first set, which I assumed was 30/70 Collective, turned out to be A Brother Scratch, featuring Henry Hicks on electric bass, Ziggy Zietgiest quite prominent on drums, Thhomas Mansfield on guitar, Joel Trigg on keys and Pataphysics on trumpet and vocals.

Pataphysics provided most of the vocal input, at times using a second mic to alter his voice, but Allysha Joy sat in on vocals for a few songs, giving us a taste of the sparkle to come later. Zietgiest took a leading role, delivering “heavy set padded strolling-paced beats” — a description that I’ve pinched from a more informed reviewer (it fits). Trigg on keys made sure this set had some lively bursts.

 

The Reverence Hotel grooves to 30/70 Collective.

The Reverence Hotel grooves to 30/70 Collective.

The line-up for the second set utilised others from 30/70 Collective — Jarrod Chase took over on keys, Reuben Lewis (known in jazz circles) on trumpet, Nathaniel Sametz added trombone and Allysha Joy set some smoke drifting up before moving to the mic.

My previous meandering and fairly inconsequential post referred to the “group hug” by this group before the second set. It really did set the scene for a warm vibe that soon had the room moving as one.

I slightly preferred the second set. The horns worked well, there was at times a distinct flavour of Sun Ra and his Arkestra — it was definitely otherworldly — and on vocals Joy brought exactly what her name suggested. Her work at the mic radiated fun, energy and enjoyment, conveyed with her great voice.

In some strict sense of that ill-defined term “jazz”, this music did not fit in a “jazz festival”, but I really don’t think that matters. I was reminded strongly of the vibe at Bennetts Lane when Snarky Puppy first played to sellout audiences in 2013. The audiences loved them and here, in this packed room at The Reverence, a room full of appreciative young music lovers were having fun and grooving to this band.

ROGER MITCHELL

Some of my pics from the gig are below: