Andrea Keller with Geoff Hughes
After Big Arse Sunday I needed to recover. That meant deciding to leave the VU Showcase at Bennetts Lane and Musica @ La Mama to others and slipping quietly through the loudly squeaking door at Lebowski’s — Cafe 303 in High St, Northcote. In a relaxed atmosphere, attentive patrons were listening to Keller on Nord and Hughes on guitar, comfortably set up in the window. As bicycles, trams and cars zipped past outside, we were in a private world.
PBS broadcaster Kenny Weir, well known in jazz circles before he chose to confine his musical tastes to dead people, once allegedly described John McBeath’s jazz reviews as “laundry lists”. That’s another story. But I may commit that sin by including the Keller – Hughes set list. Before I arrived they played Jim’s Favourite (Keller), Same Time Same Face (Hughes). The Rain Outside (Keller), Cry From Far Away (Hughes) and Broken (Keller) completed the set. After the break they played Galumping Round the Nation (Keller), Chill Chaser (Hughes), an excerpt of Hand Me Downs (Keller) as a Nord solo, Small Comforts (Keller), Waking Dream (Hughes) and The Incredible View (Keller). Phew! Now to turn on the washing machine.
Both sets were totally engrossing — peaceful and introspective music to become totally absorbed in, as cares and frustrations and clutter of the world outside faded into insignificance. This was just what I needed after the seven-hour stint at Big Arse Sunday.
During Chill Chaser I mused on the sounds being produced by guitar and Nord. The contrast between them is not that great, so that they often produce parallel or complementary sounds, with the Nord often sounding fuzzier and more full, but not markedly so. Waking Dream began with a guitar solo that had a classical feel and then included interludes in which Hughes and Keller played independently yet always responsive to the other. It occurred to me then that both Nord and guitar can puddle in the mud of chords or go on flights of celebration or feel the joy in single, sustained notes. And each musician appeared to be utterly submerged in the piece.
Hughes followed a slow Keller introduction in Small Comforts with some deeper, bluesy riffs, and in The Incredible View there seemed to be quite a bit of dissonance.
There was a simplicity to this gig — just two players doing their thing without the complications of bass or drums. It never ceases to be a source of wonder to me that this interaction and invention can be accomplished with such apparent ease and with such a satisfying result. In all the time that Keller and Hughes played Cafe 303 on the night, at no time did interest flag. And it seemed to be good for the soul.
Perhaps it is time for Geoff Hughes to fire up his studio and invite over Andrea Keller for a recording session.
Here are some more images: