GET ADRIAN JACKSON TO SHOUT

Adrian Jackson in characteristic pose at the mic, introducing a band.

Adrian Jackson in characteristic pose at the mic, introducing a band.

PREVIEW

Give Adrian a Shout:
Adrian Jackson’s Jazz benefit, The Jazzlab, November 19, 2017

________________________________________________________________________________

BREAKING NEWS

SILENT AUCTION for AJ’S JAZZ BENEFIT

Item 1
Stonnington Jazz has contributed two season passes for Stonnington Jazz 2018:
2x season passes to Stonnington Jazz 2018 (all shows and workshops) including 2x tickets to the exclusive Jazz Gala. Approx. value $1,350

Item 2
Melbourne International Jazz Festival has contributed three double passes for the concerts of the recipient’s choice (for MIJF-presented events only). Approx. value $600+

Item 3
Niko Schauble has contributed a Day of Recording at his Pughouse Studio, Northcote
Approx. value $450

Item 4
Andrew Walker of the Jazzhead label has contributed a package of five recent Australian jazz albums. Approx. value $125

Item 5
Claypots Restaurants have donated a gift voucher, valued at $120, for ‘A seafood degustation for two’ at Claypots, St. Kilda. Value $120

Item 6
Claypots Restaurants have donated a gift voucher, valued at $120, for ‘A seafood degustation for two‘ at Claypots Barbarossa Salon, Hardware Lane, CBD. Value $120

Item 7
Basement Discs in 24 Block Place, CBD, have donated a $100 Gift voucher. Value $100

Item 8
6 CDs from Lionsharecords (This Is Always, Swailing, This Narrow Isthmus, A Life in a Day & Post Matinee) + a copy of Trio-Live. Total value – priceless.

BIDDING ON ITEMS can be made via:

  • Email to martinjackson01@optusnet.com.au
  • SMS to 0401 637 203 by 10 pm on November 19, 2017
  • Envelopes provided at the venue by 10 pm on November 19, 2017

Please indicate Item number and the $ amount that you wish to bid, and contact details (if submitting an envelope). Winners will be decided around 10.30 pm on November 19, 2017, and only winning bids will be notified.

________________________________________________________________________________

UPDATE: Line-up announced for this gig is as follows, according to Martin Jackson:

Bob Sedergreen
Transients with Wilson/Anning/Keller
Stoneflower trio (Jacq Gawler, Stephen Magnusson & Tamara Murphy)
Tony Gould
Illaria Corciani Trio (with Mirko Guerrini & Tony Gould)
Doug DeVries & Jex Saarelaht
Chris McNulty
Torrio! (Guerrini, Grabowsky & Schauble)
Julien Wilson Trio (Stephen Magnusson & Stephen Grant)
Nichaud Fitzgibbon (feat. David Rex)
Scott Tinkler & Sam Keevers
Michelle Nicole (feat. Ronny Ferella)
MJC Collective!

Some things may change – it would not be jazz with some improvisation).
Doors open at 7 pm at The Jazzlab, 27 Leslie Street, Brunswick; music starts as soon as possible.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Adrian Jackson was whispering when I spoke to him at Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues recently. We are all hoping that before long he’ll be back to his usual volume and fully capable of giving us a shout — in all senses of the word.

On Sunday at 7pm at The Jazzlab, Melbourne Jazz Co-operative will stage a jazz benefit for Adrian, well known for his key roles as, for 27 years, founding artistic director at Wangaratta’s jazz and blues festival (as well as those at Melbourne and Stonnington).

Many will be aware that Adrian is at present unemployed, and has needed surgery so that he can talk above a whisper and get back to work. But some of us were unaware of the extent of the difficulties he has had to face in the past two years.

Readers of Martin Jackson’s MJC newsletter will have seen Adrian’s account of his situation, but with his permission I reproduce it here for any who missed seeing it:

“It is in some ways embarrassing to be seeking financial assistance as a 60-year-old. Although my situation, in part, reflects the downside of a career in arts administration, and jazz administration in particular. You don’t get paid holidays or sick leave, long-service leave or employer super contributions, unless you pay for them yourself.

“The past two years have been very difficult for me. Divorce after 31 years of marriage. The innings was declared when I was on 27 at Wangaratta Jazz. A perfect storm of ambitious investment strategy, inadequate support from the company I was investing through, and well-intentioned but disastrous advice to my wife that share trades should cease while we discussed divorce terms – just when the options we had bought/sold moved into a brief window of profitability – saw my life savings and super fund decimated.

“I have had a series of health issues to deal with. And just as I let my car insurance lapse shortly before an accident where I was the at-fault driver, and was unable to renew it before the car was stolen and written off recently … so it was that I couldn’t afford to maintain my private medical cover after 35-odd years, just a few months before learning that I need expensive surgery to remove polyps on my vocal cords, if I want to speak above a raspy whisper.

“Now, I’m not here to say ‘poor me’. OK, I am. But I’m not saying my problems are all down to bad luck. I’ve done my share of dumb things of late, too.

“On the whole, I consider myself fortunate to have enjoyed a career in the music industry, presenting or promoting music that I love, mainly jazz and blues. And I hope that chapter isn’t finished yet, that there will be more to come, post-operation. (Albert Dadon has offered some welcome encouragement with regard to that).

“I shudder to think how I might have survived the last two years without the support of my siblings. But they can only do so much.

“So when Martin told me he had discussed the idea of a benefit gig with a few musicians, and asked if this would make me feel embarrassed, I replied, “Only if nobody turns up.”

“So I would like to thank my family for their support. To thank Michael Tortoni for providing the Jazzlab for the event, at no cost. To thank all the musicians who have offered to perform, as well as those who would have if they could have, and a few who I suspect will be added to the roster between now and November 19.

“And the same goes for a blues-based benefit (Sunday, November 26, 3pm-11pm with MBAS at Flemington-Kensington Bowling Club) that is being organised shortly after the Jazzlab gig. The support, generosity and friendship of so many is deeply appreciated.

“For anyone in two minds about attending, I can say two things. (a) check out the great array of talent on the bill, and (b) I won’t be in any condition to make a speech.”

 — Adrian Jackson

Martin Jackson confirms that the jazz community is coming together to return some of the support that Adrian has given it over a period of almost 40 years. Michael Tortoni, of The Jazzlab, is contributing the rental fee for his venue, while Niko Schauble has donated a day of Recording work at Pughouse Studio for the Silent Auction. An online donation facility has been set up.

Many of Melbourne’s leading jazz artists will perform at the jazz benefit, including the sublime Julien Wilson Trio (with Stephen Magnusson & Stephen Grant), Andrea Keller, Michelle Nicole, Tony Gould, Doug DeVries, Nichaud Fitzgibbon, Bob Sedergreen, Sam Keevers, Scott Tinkler, Ronny Ferella, Tamara Murphy, Eugene Ball, Jacq Gawler, Sam Anning, Mirko Guerrini and Ilaria Crociani.

One special combination to look forward to will be guitarist Doug DeVries and pianist ‘Jex’ Saarelaht, two incredible musicians who go back decades to Williamstown High School days, when they were largely self-taught through transcribing solos by the likes of Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery and Bud Powell.

Benefit tickets cost $25 & $20 concession. There will be a silent auction and among valuable items offered are two $100 gift vouchers from Basement Discs, a package of great Australian jazz albums from Jazzhead, two season passes from Stonnington Jazz and three double passes to a concert of choice presented by the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

Roger Mitchell

Advertisements

FINELY BALANCED QUINTET

Paul Williamson leads his quintet to launch "Finding the Balance".

Paul Williamson leads his quintet to launch “Finding the Balance”.

IMAGE GALLERY

Paul Williamson Quintet: Finding the Balance album launch

Trumpeter and composer Paul Williamson launched his 11th CD at The Jazzlab on Sunday, November 12. Finding the Balance (Jazzhead), features long-time collaborators, Perth-based Jamie Oehlers (tenor saxophone), Andrea Keller (piano), James McLean (drums) and Christopher Hale (acoustic bass guitar).

The original compositions and group aesthetic reflected Williamson’s desire to produce music with memorable themes with the ability to take listeners on musical journeys. Expect mesmerising improvisations, spirited interaction and complementary individual conceptions.

The Jazzlab was packed for this outing, the musicians attracting enthusiastic applause. Some images from the gig are below.

Roger Mitchell

 

LOUD AND PROUD V SUBTLY VARIED

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah          Image: Roger Mitchell

REVIEW

Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues 2017

Julian “Cannonball” Adderley was in the car on the way back from this year’s Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, along with Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Sam Jones, Art Blakey and a bunch of others from the fifties. They were not wearing seatbelts.

They soothed my aching ears. They oozed class and they came uncluttered — clear and simple notes flowing out as the countryside rolled past. There was power and beauty in their gentle swing, unadorned by technological enhancements.

This year’s festival was a blast — but that tells only part of the story. There were full-on gigs that emulated rock concerts, shaking the foundations with pulsing, pounding beats and all manner of high-tech wizardry, and there were gigs with more subtlety, variations in intensity, more light and shade.

The crowds, of course, loved to have it loud, and yelled for more. In a year exhibiting much more music technology than previously, the bands that many will remember as their highlights will be those that went for it, no holds barred, going for broke.

If it sounds as if I’m complaining, it’s not that loud music or new gadgetry (its advance is inevitable) are necessarily bad, only that my preference is not to have high octane and/or high tech delivered quite so unremittingly. But that’s not necessarily a view shared by many.

Christian Scott

Final bows: From left, Shea Pierre piano and Rhodes, Kris Funn bass, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah trumpet and reverse flugel, Logan Richardson sax, Corey Fonville drums.

The full-throttle performances began on Friday at 10pm in Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre Theatre when Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (trumpet, reverse flugel) led a quintet that unexpectedly did not include flautist Elena Pinderhughes. On piano and Rhodes Shea Pierre had joined the band only a week ago. On alto saxophone Logan Richardson was a valued guest alongside long-time member and phenomenally talented bassist Kris Funn and prodigy Corey Fonville, who Scott said had prank-called him (acting as his grandmother) “every day for five years” in his campaign to join the group.

In this and a subsequent outing at 10.30pm Saturday this band absolutely wowed the packed theatre in a highly amped and virtuosic display that was potentially ear damaging and yet paid homage to deep musical traditions. Scott’s great grandmother was a Cuban pianist, his grandfather a chief of the New Orleans black Indians and his uncle is saxophonist Donald Harrison jnr.

Scott is eloquent with words as well as his extraordinary horns, in both concerts introducing the closing and compelling piece, The Last Chieftain, with a moving account of his grandfather’s distribution of food to people who needed it in New Orleans wards and the relevance of this example to our world now of bigotry and vulnerability.

Scott paid close attention to the sound quality, his fellow musicians and then to the audience, leaving no doubt about his talent. Why it had to be almost all so high voltage and so loud is a mystery to me, but few in the audience seemed to mind. I felt for Shea Pierre on piano and keys, who seemed to be a little on the outer in this group.

Another band that let loose from the word go was The Others, bringing Spiderbait’s Kram (drums) to the stage for the first time with jazz identities Paul Grabowsky (keys and electronics) and James Morrison (an array of horns). It was impossible to tell who was most excited, Grabowsky, Morrison, Kram or the audience. One audience member summed up this gig as “a collision of styles” and another as “you’ve just seen three men have orgasms on stage”. Both of those descriptions seemed not to be unfair.

Whether it was Kram drumming on the floor all around Morrison and the grand piano to eventually reach Grabowsky, who was looking coolly intimidating in dark shades as he drew weird wailings and high-pitched whistles from his electronic device, or the showman Morrison possibly being outshone or even stretched a little in the company of Kram, these three delivered energy and enthusiasm in spades, leaving the audience ecstatic.

As the lights went down I wished they had backed off just a little in one or two pieces, but boys will be boys. (I’d rather have heard Grabowsky’s monumental Moons of Jupiter suite.)

Another technologically rich and amply amplified performance was delivered in two outings by Auckland-born pianist Aron Ottingnon, who now lives in Paris, leading a trio with Kuba Gudz on drums and Samuel Dubois on steel pan and percussion. Ottingnon, who was runner-up in the 1999 National Jazz Awards at Wangaratta, is engaging and exuberant as well as capable of virtuosic work at the piano keyboard, assisted by electronic effects.

This trio was primarily about rhythms, effectively and gradually building intensity by subtly adjusting patterns and tempo. Gudz and Dubois, also utilising much technological wizardry, were attentive and responsive. After hearing two pieces in the Saturday night concert I was unsure whether Ottingnon’s trio was an ideal choice to end the jazz program on the Sunday, but that second outing dispelled those doubts. A small but appreciative audience attended the final festival gig.

Scott Tinkler’s DRUB was also, as expected, a fiery, full-on performance that was utterly engrossing, but I dropped in only long enough to clear the cobwebs from my brain between two very different concerts. It was an effective palate cleanser.

As mentioned earlier, the festival as a blast was far from the whole story. Fans of New Orleans piano styles had a treat in WPAC Theatre on Friday at a time usually reserved for a major jazz attraction, as UK-born Jon Cleary took us on a journey from Jelly Roll Morton to Fats Domino.

But I was still feeling the warm glow of other vibes, in particular from vocalist Melanie Taylor’s clear and moving rendition of Somewhere Called Home, performed with Tony Gould on piano during the festival’s opening Monash Sessions concert at 6pm in WPAC Theatre. Student musicians, along with Gould, Mike Nock, Paul Williamson (trumpet) and Rob Burke delivered a thoroughly engaging start to Wangaratta 2017 — I left on a high.

That mood continued at 7.30pm when the Kari Ikonen Trio (Finland) delivered the first of two demonstrations of how powerful music can be when carefully crafted, constantly varied and given lots of space. I had to leave that concert early, but heard all of the 11am Saturday outing by Kari Ikonen on piano, Olli Rantala on double bass and Markku Ounaskari on drums. At that early hour a good crowd was treated to gentle humour, shifts in dynamics, rich timbres of piano strings strummed, brooding bowed bass and deftly minimal drum work. The levels of intensity varied, the piano notes were at times icy or crystalline and at others verging on guttural.

That was a definite highlight, but Sunday took me to another level at 11am in WPAC Theatre when Phil Slater on trumpet joined Simon Barker on drums, Matt McMahon on piano, Matt Keegan on sax, and Brett Hirst on bass to premiere new works. From Slater’s breathy, opening horn notes it was evident we were to hear something special. His solemn input began what slowly built into a mesmerising set of might and beauty, peppered in places with musings, nibbles, short runs and bright shards of sound from the horn.

These were works of immense power, with no need of electronics or special effects and no need for sustained full-throttle playing. Yet this seamless, organically cohesive music sustained interest throughout. Sprinklings of rhythm from Barker, McMahon and Hirst perfectly complemented the work of Keegan and Slater. This was a deeply moving concert.

Two hours later an octet led by bassist Jonathan Zwartz brought Slater back to that stage among a talented bunch of “feckless rascals” who delivered melodically rich compositions by Swartz from a soon-to-be-released album. Again this was a band of luminaries — Barney McAll piano, Hamish Stuart drums, Julien Wilson tenor sax, Phil Slater trumpet, James Greening trombone, Fabian Hevia percussion and Steve Magnusson guitar. They served up a rich feast of exuberant and deeply affecting music spiced with much humour. McAll’s subtle input towards the end of the newly dubbed Julien Wilson’s Song of Love was spot-on.

In what became a Sunday brimming with local musicianship of the highest order, bassist Sam Anning gathered the impressive line-up of Andrea Keller piano, Mat Jodrell trumpet and flugel, Carl Mackey alto sax, Julien Wilson tenor sax and Danny Fischer drums to play his beautiful compositions with warmth and vitality. I love a well bent trumpet note and Jodrell does that well.

Anning also featured in saxophonist Angela Davis’s Quartet in St Pat’s Hall at noon Sunday, the close-knit ensemble delivering some appealingly gentle swing. A change in scheduling may have meant some missed the adventurous and awesome originals played by a young Melbourne quartet. Formed in mid 2015, this band comprising bassist Isaac Gunnoo, drummer Maddison Carter and siblings Flora Carbo (saxophone) and Theo Carbo (guitar) is worth keeping an eye on. They’ll go far.

Expatriate Australian horn player Nadje Noordhuis now living in New York chose Theo Carbo to join her hand-picked band, along with James Shipp (USA) on synthesisers and percussion, Gian Slater on vocals and Chris Hale on bass, playing her compositions written for this festival gig. There were hints of nostalgia in these pieces, which celebrated Noordhuis’s luxuriantly rich tones on trumpet and flugelhorn in a performance to sink into. Slater’s vocals were tailored to match the mood, which never ventured into edgy.

The mood was less predictable when Noordhuis reunited with festival programming team member Adam Simmons and French guitarist Philippe Guidat — all three had been thrown together in a Music Omi Artist Residency in upstate New York in 2007 — to form a disparate sextet with French percussionist Pascal Rollando, James Shipp (vibes/percussion) and Chris Hale (bass). Plenty of humour was added to the mix in this delightful outing, especially in an impromptu instrumental battle between Shipp and Simmons. This recipe — mix a few varied musicians and stir — worked a treat.

Other line-ups that worked well were a trio not often enough heard comprising Nick Haywood on bass with Colin Hopkins piano and Niko Schauble on drums, and Antelodic — featuring the unusual combination of Robbie Melville on guitar with two saxophonists, Gideon Brazil on tenor and Monty Mackenzie on alto sax and clarinet.

In the National Jazz Awards finals, the hard-working judges — Nadje Noordhuis, Scott Tinkler and trombonist Adrian Sherriff — awarded the honours as follows: 1st James Macaulay, 29, trombone, Victoria; 2nd Niran Dasika, 23, trumpet, Victoria; and 3rd Thomas Avgenicos, 21, trumpet, NSW. As is always the case, the finals performances attracted a large audience to hear quality performances. The backing band of Tom O’Halloran piano, Brendan Clarke bass and Ben Vanderwal drums also deserves high praise.

One standout artist at this festival deserves a separate post — partly because of the impact of her performances and partly because it was far from what you’d expect to find in a jazz festival program. Multilingual vocalist, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and dancer Jen Shyu gave two concerts — one in Holy Trinity Cathedral on Saturday in a duo with Simon Barker, and another on Sunday in WPAC Theatre with Barker, James Shipp on vibraphone and Veronique Serret on six-string violin.

Her compelling out-of-left-field expositions of drama, theatre, dance and expressively virtuosic vocals were engrossing, shocking, funny, moving, confronting and often puzzling. It was a visual feast as even the simplest moves — such as picking up or putting down an instrument — were imbued with grace and poise. Shyu sang and spoke in seven languages and played piano, violin, moon lute and percussion.

I was fascinated, but also frustrated at not always following the narrative, even though having the unexpected benefit of seeing the same work, Song of Silver Geese, twice. (I had expected a different work at the second outing.)

It is impossible to be at all festival gigs. I regret having missed Barney McAll’s ASIO, Cleverhorse, Slipper, Gian Slater with McAll and Barker, Guidat/Rollando in duo, Digital Seed, Mike Nock’s solo piano, Nick Tsiavos’s Liminal, Lo-Res, Zac Hurren, Katie Noonan and Karin Shaupp. Origami’s Wu-Xing – The Five Elements was just beginning as I left, so I hope that will be staged again soon.

To sum up, Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues 2017 offered the high-tech and high-volume outings that many will have loved, but I was happiest — and very satisfied indeed — to have heard many concerts in which loud and proud was less important than exquisitely varied.

ROGER MITCHELL

PS: There were a few niggles — program inconsistencies, line-ups missing on the festival app, gigs starting late, overly pushy security guards at the Pinsent — but these can wait.

PPS: More images will be added later.

PPPS: If you read this far, accept a gold star and free access to a DRUB recording session (no ear plugs provided).