CONFUCIUS SAY, GIVE MUSICIANS LIBERTY

Cara Taber Gideon Brazil

Cara Taber and Gideon Brazil fill the air with colour during Adam Simmons’ Concerto For Piano and Toy Band

PICTORIAL REVIEW

Concert 1: Concerto for Piano and Toy Band
Michael Kieran Harvey with Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble
Composed by Adam Simmons

Thursday 2 March 2017, fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

By the time this post appears the second performance of this concerto will be over, but there will be two more chances to join the audience — on Saturday at 7.30pm and on Sunday at 3pm.

I loved this work. One of the performers, alto saxophonist Cara Taber, described this as “beautiful, thought-provoking, and strong original music by Adam Simmons” and that fits.

The concerto, which has three parts surrounded by a prologue, two interludes and an epilogue, is at times frenzied and at others meditative. Bursts of sudden energy come from the powerful piano of classical musician Michael Kieran Harvey as well as from the Toy Band.

As is always the case with Simmons’ art, we are encouraged to enjoy as well as to reflect on what we are seeing and hearing, what the performers are bringing to us beyond their facility with a range of instruments.

Confucius, a great lover of music, is part of this work, introduced in lines spoken by Simmons as he turns the handles on music boxes, propelling paper tapes into which the words are punched as holes. My googling suggests that Confucius gave ideas on how music should follow the ideal of the ancient pattern and then allow for improvisation while maintaining harmony.

This is the context for the brief spoken passages in Simmons’ concerto, in that Confucius, when talking to the Grand Master of Lu (who had been given the task of teaching music) about the Ancients’ Music, said, “Their music began with a strict unison. Soon the musicians were given more liberty; but the tone remained harmonious, brilliant, consistent, right on ’til the close.”

The spoken passages provide a framework in which the musicians work. The whole work — Simmons’ first long-form composition — is part of his exploration this year of The Usefulness of Art, inspired by French Impressionist sculptor Auguste Rodin‘s view that “I call useful anything that gives us happiness”. Simmons wants us to reflect on art as connection, sharing experience and encouraging understanding between people.

The influences he cites for this effort to highlight the contrast between soloist and ensemble include the words of Confucius, Werner Herzog films he watched when composing the piece in Wye River some years back and John Zorn’s books of interviews, essays and commentaries by musicians.

All this, while interesting as a background to the performance, is not required as a prelude to its enjoyment. There are startling moments in the concerto, there are periods in which Harvey thrills at the piano and there is a time when Taber’s saxophone solo is accompanied by musicians moving quietly and percussively through the audience and performance space.

It is best not to tell that story beforehand, but to experience it. I would thoroughly recommend that you find the time to catch the remaining two performances of Concerto for Piano and Toy Band.

ROGER MITCHELL

The Toy Band: Adam Simmons sopranino, baritone saxophones, shakuhachi; Cara Taber alto saxophone; Gideon Brazil tenor saxophone; Gemma Horbury trumpet; Gavin Cornish trumpet; Bryn Hills trombone; Howard Cairns double bass; Hugh Harvey drums

Below are some images, which are in black and white. The performance certainly is not.

JAMES JAMES MORRISON MUSTAFA …

Kate Ceberano

Kate Ceberano

PREVIEW

JAZZ GREATS WEEKEND AT MONASH

Saturday 25 March, 7.30pm: James Morrison & The James Mustafa Jazz Orchestra, $15 – $45

Sunday 26 March, 7.30pm: The Bob Dylan Song Book featuring Kate Ceberano, Joe Camilleri and Paul Grabowsky, $15 – $45

James James
Morrison Mustafa
Kate, Joe and Paul

Apologies to A.A. Milne for messing with his words from Disobedience, but it seemed appropriate. The mother of Milne’s James Morrison, one suspects, would have thrown caution to the winds and headed out to Monash University next month, even if she had no hope whatsoever of being “back in time for tea”.

On that Saturday and Sunday next month, Monash Academy of Performing Arts will put some well known names in Australian music — James Morrison, Kate Ceberano, Joe Camilleri and Paul Grabowsky —on stage at Robert Blackwood Hall along with talented musicians including  Morrison’s quintet and 20-piece ensemble The James Mustafa Jazz Orchestra.

A highlight of the Saturday program will be MAPA’s newly commissioned composition from James Mustafa featuring his outstanding jazz orchestra with world-acclaimed James Morrison as soloist.

The James Mustafa Jazz Orchestra is comprised of some of the country’s finest and most respected musicians.  Their debut album The Last Sanctuary, released under the Jazzhead record label has been a best seller and they have performed many sellout shows across Victoria.

Paul Grabowsky Joe Camilleri

Paul Grabowsky                                                                      Joe Camilleri

In the second Jazz Greats concert, two of Australia’s most popular and celebrated contemporary vocalists, Kate Ceberano and Joe Camilleri, join six-time Aria award winner Paul Grabowsky and the Paul Grabowsky Quartet.

Together they will reimagine and transform some of the finest songs in the songbook of one of the 20th century’s greatest song-writers and poets – Bob Dylan.

“The songs of Bob Dylan have become part of the inner fabric of our lives, and his creative journey has recently brought him around to the Great American Songbook, which has traditionally formed the basis for many extraordinary jazz performances,” says Paul Grabowsky.

“Now we return the favour, with an investigation from a jazz perspective of his masterpieces, interpreted by two of our greatest vocalists, Joe Camilleri, himself a deep Dylan devotee, and Kate Ceberano, whose song choices will surprise and delight.”

Musical Director for this concert, Grabowsky will be on piano, Luke Andresen on drums, Rob Burke on saxophone and Jonathan Zion on double bass.

Tickets can be purchased online or by phone on (03) 9905 1111.

Ticket Prices
Standard: $45
Senior/Pensioner/Healthcare Card: $35
Student (Non Monash) / Children 15: $20
Monash Staff: $35
Monash Student: $15
If you are booking Monash Staff or Monash Student tickets, you can book by calling the Box Office on 9905 1111

Children
Children aged two years and under are complimentary when not occupying a seat.

Running Time
Approximately two hours including a twenty minute interval.

Images supplied. Information adapted from material supplied by Prue Basset Publicity.

ROGER MITCHELL

THE MUSIC MUST NOT DIE

screen-grab_web

Today is a sad day. It is the final day on which music, other than on The Music Show, will be featured on ABC Radio National.

It is also a day of action, in which all who are dismayed by this decision are using social media, telephones and emails to inundate the ABC during the day to demonstrate the level of our concern and to encourage more listeners to sign the petition calling the ABC board to save RN music.

My radio

My radio

As part of this day of action, we are urged to post images of our radio across all forms of media.

This is my radio. Like me, it is seen many years. It has a solar panel on top. It has a crank at the side that can power the radio in case the batteries go flat. It used to have an aerial. It used to have a torch at one end. It receives AM and FM, but it cannot pick up digital broadcasts. So from today on it will not pick up Mal Stanley’s Jazztrack.

My radio is battered. I could not possibly count the number of times it has fallen off something, the batteries flying out. Yet it plays a vital and essential part of my life. The volume control is dickey, so that the ABC programs I listen to are often either too loud or almost inaudible. It requires sensitive handling. But it always recovers from each fall, to live another day, to continue its broadcasting role.

My radio is like the ABC.  It is often battered. It requires sensitive handling. But it always recovers after a fall.

The crazy decision to excise music from Radio National is a dramatic fall, but the ABC can recover. It can reverse this decision. Music can return to Radio National.

To make that happen, it is important that we support the campaign to save RN music.

Ausjazz.net urges all to support the campaign, to take up this issue with the ABC Board and to broadcast the message that we refuse to accept that the music has died.

Roger Mitchell

On November 30 last year an open letter was sent to Members of the ABC Board and ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie. It is reproduced below, along with its signatories. The battle continues.

As musicians and music industry professionals, we are appalled by the decision taken by ABC management to scrap The Daily Planet, The Inside Sleeve, The Live Set and The Rhythm Divine, and to remove Jazztrack from Radio National. This decision was taken without proper industry and public consultation and must be reconsidered and reversed.

The cuts deliver a fundamental blow to diverse, vibrant and independent sectors of the Australian music industry, which receive minimal national radio coverage elsewhere.

These programs are among the remaining windows for Australian artists to tell their stories about Australian life, for people to hear and learn from those stories and for all Australians to hear the songs and stories of other cultures from around the world.

Further, they support and underpin a music sector that, according to Music Australia, contributes between $4 and $6 billion to the Australian economy annually and which generates close to 65,000 jobs, over half of which are full-time.

They are essential listening for those working in this vibrant industry and should not be discarded on the grounds of ratings.

We do not believe that the proposed additions to Double J in any way compensate for Radio National’s losses, especially given that Double J is only available in digital format. We are deeply concerned about listeners in regional, rural and remote areas where the Internet and digital radio access is problematic at best. Many of these listeners rely on linear broadcasting.

It is clear that the cuts contradict the intent and spirit of the ABC Charter, which outlines two of “the functions of the Corporation” as:

  • –  “broadcasting programs that contribute a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of, the Australian community;”
  • –  “to encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia.”

Collectively, The Daily Planet, The Inside Sleeve, The Live Set, The Rhythm Divine and Jazztrack provide specialist, linear broadcasting of diverse music that is not broadcast nationally elsewhere with equivalent depth, breadth and expertise.

This music is often outside the mainstream. It includes folk, roots, world, blues, jazz and adult contemporary, among the many genres. It champions unique voices, small communities, alternative perspectives, story telling (particularly of Australian stories), experimentation, live performance, improvisation and excellence.

Much of this music is released independently by highly-respected Australian musicians who have developed enthusiastic audiences through extensive touring, depending on RN’s Australia-wide reach for promotion. Many perform regularly in regional, rural and/or remote areas.

The shows set for axing also provide promotion and national live broadcasting of numerous Australian music events, including major festivals, such as Byron Bay Bluesfest, Woodford Folk Festival, the National Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival and Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, as well as small festivals and community gatherings. These provide regional, rural and remote areas with opportunities for place-making, musical education, tourism and economic growth.

While we value and admire Double J, we do not believe that it can fill the hole left by the cuts, despite additions proposed for 2017. These additions are limited to a four-times weekly (rather than weekly) programming of The Beat Eclectic, which covers “post rock, punk and pop, ambient and acoustic sounds”; the introduction of Fat Planet, which ran on FBi from 2003-2008 and “showcases new music from around the world, such as Scandinavian folk, Japanese dubstep and Chilean post- punk”; and a “new live music show” to feature “new recordings from local and international artists”. Meanwhile, Triple J’s primary focus will remain the youth market.

Without The Daily Planet, The Inside Sleeve, The Live Set, The Rhythm Divine and Jazztrack, how will ABC Radio possibly “reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community”?

We also emphasise the importance of RN Music’s expert broadcasters. Lucky Oceans, Paul Gough, Geoff Wood and Alice Keath are some of Australia’s most experienced, knowledgeable, passionate and intelligent musical minds. The casting off of these irreplaceable staff members contradicts RN’s commitment to “specialist content across arts and culture” broadcasting, as outlined on RN’s website.

We are far from alone in our opposition. A petition to save RN Music, launched on November 14th, has already attracted over 12,000 signatures, and numerous high-profile figures – both Australian and international have officially endorsed the petition statement. These include Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins, Archie Roach AM, Gurrumul, Kate Ceberano, Tim Winton, Neil Murray, Sarah Blasko, Megan Washington, Mike Nock, Shane Howard AM, Don Walker, Tim Freedman, Lindy Morrison OAE, Glen Hansard, Andy Irvine, Gina Williams, Paul Grabowsky AO, Rob Hirst, Deborah Conway, John Butler, Iva Davies AM, the Waifs and many, many more.

In a public statement, author Tim Winton writes:

“At a time when it seems every element of home-grown culture is under siege, it’s bewildering to see Radio National stripping music shows from its programming. To musicians, composers, producers and listeners alike, this retreat feels like a betrayal, a signal that ABC management feels no need to repay the loyalty of its audience. For years Radio National has been a defender of Australian culture and a means by which new writers, players and composers find an audience.”

Also in a public statement, Katie Noonan writes:

“I simply can not fathom how anyone would have thought this was a good idea for the Australian people … In regional Australia these radio shows are literally the lifeline for cultural connectivity … Having been lucky enough to tour this great big country of ours many times, I know how absolutely vital these programs are to people’s lives … The catastrophic effects of these cuts will be enormous on multiple levels – this decision has simply not been thought through properly and absolutely needs to be reversed”.

We urge the Board and management to respond to the following questions:

  1. (1)  Can you assure the listening public that the changes will not reduce the diversity of music styles played, the amount of new Australian music promoted, the number of Australian musicians profiled and the resources devoted to these activities?
  2. (2)  Will the changes reduce regional access to Australian music?
  3. (3)  Is the ABC confident the changes won’t reduce audiences for the genres covered by RN Music, or adversely impact the live music ecosystem for these musicians and their audiences?
  4. (4)  Has the ABC considered, in delivering on its charter, its responsibility to the broader music community and to the country, to contribute to an original, national musical culture and identity, to support viable careers and to support an important national industry, culturally and economically?

We also ask the board to look at the thousands of comments on the petition as well as others on social media.

https://www.savernmusic.com

Finally, we again call on the ABC to review this ill-considered decision, as outlined in the petition statement, and to return The Daily Planet, The Inside Sleeve, The Live Set, The Rhythm Divine and Jazztrack to Radio National in 2017. It’s our ABC.

We would be happy to discuss these issues further.
Link to petition: https://www.change.org/p/michael-mason-hands-off-radio-national-music

Yours Sincerely,
Ruth Hazleton & the ‘Hands Off Radio National Music’ campaign team.

Adrian Jackson – Artistic Director Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival Andrew Legg – UTAS Director, Conservatorium of Music
Andy Irvine (Ireland)
APRA/AMCOS Board
Archie Roach AM
Association of Australian Musicians (AM)
Australian Independent Musicians Association (AIMA)
Barney McAll – Peggy Glanville Hicks Resident
Ben Northey – Associate Conductor MSO
Bernard Fanning
Black Market Music
Bob, Margaret & James Fagan
Brett Kingman
Cameron Undy – Owner Venue 505
Chong Lim – MD John Farnham/Dancing with the Stars
Chris Wilson
Craig Scott – Chair of Jazz Studies Sydney Conservatorium of Music Country Music Association of Australia (CMMA)
David Spelman – Artistic Director NY International Guitar Festival Dan Sultan
Deborah Conway
Djakapurra Munyarryun
Djolpa McKenzie
Dobe Newton
Don Walker
Eddie Perfect
Elizabeth Rogers, CEO Regional Arts NSW
Fairbridge Festival
Fred Smith
Folk Alliance Australia
Genevieve Lacey
Gina Williams
Glen Hansard (Ireland)
Greg Fleet
Gurrumul Yunupingu
Head Records
Helen Marcou & Quincy McLean – SLAM & Bakehouse Studios
Iain Grandage – Artistic Director Port Fairy Spring Music Festival
Iva Davies AM
James Morrison AM
Jamie Oehlers – Coordinator of Jazz Studies, WAAPA, Edith Cowan University Jack Charles
Jane Clifton
Jazz Queensland
Jeff Lang
Jim Conway
Joe Camilleri
Joe Geia
Joe Henry (US)
John Butler
Jonathan Dimond – Head of Program/Senior Lecturer, Melbourne Polytechnic Julian Burnside AO QC
Dr Jon Rose (Don Banks Award)
Jordie Lane
Kate & Phil Ceberano
Katie Noonan – Artistic Director Queensland Music Festival
Kavisha Mazella
Ken Stringfellow (US)
Kerrie Glasscock – Artistic Director Sydney Fringe Festival
Kutcha Edwards
Leah Flanagan
Lindy Hume – Artsistic Director Opera QLD
Lindy Morrison OAM
Lior Attar
Liz Frencham
Lucie Thorne
Lyn Williams OAM – Director Gondwana Choirs and Sydney Children’s Choir Marcia Howard
Marc Ribot (US)
Margaret Roadknight
Mark Atkins
Mary Black (Ireland)
Mary Mihelakos
Megan Washington
Melbourne International Jazz Festival
Melbourne Jazz Coop (MJC)
Michael Franti (US)
Michael Tortoni – Owner Bennetts Lane Jazz Club
Mick Thomas
Mike Nock (Don Banks Award)
Miroslav Bukovsky – Distinguished Artist in Residence, School of Music, ANU Missy Higgins
Monique Brumby
Mullum Music Festival
Music Australia
The Music Trust
Nannup Music Festival
National Celtic Festival
National Folk Festival
Nick Bailey – General Manager, ANAM
Dr Nick Haywood – Coordinator of Contemporary Music, UTAS Conservatorium Paul Dempsey
Paul Grabowsky AO
Paul Kelly
Dr Paul Williamson – Coordinator of Jazz Ensembles and Honours, Monash Uni Peter Noble OAM – Artistic Director of Byron Bay Bluesfest
Port Fairy Folk Festival
Rebecca Barnard
Rhonda Burchmore
Richard Letts AM – Founder, Music Council of Australia, President, International Music Council
Associate Professor Robert Burke – Coordinator of Jazz & Popular Music, Monash Uni
Dr Robert Vincs – Head of Jazz & Improvisation, VCA, Melbourne University
Rod Vervest -Program Manager Perth International Arts Festival
Ross Wilson
Sarah Blasko
Shane Howard AM
Simon Burke AO
Skinnyfish Music
Slava & Leonard Grigoryan
Spiderbait
Stephen Pigram
Steve Nieve (England)
Sydney Fringe Festival
Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA)
Thirsty Merc
Tim Freedman
Tim Rogers
Tim Winton
Tracy Bartram
Truckstop Honeymoon (USA)
Vince Jones
The Waifs
William Barton
Which Way Music Woodford Folk Festival