MELBOURNE JAZZ FRINGE FESTIVAL 2010 — DAY 1

APRA COMMISSION CONCERT
Commission Winner Gian Slater: Gone, Without Saying

Gian Slater et al
Gian Slater and her singers

What a great start to the MIJFF for 2010! Sonja Horbelt praised the work of the committee and the support of sponsors, including APRA, Victoria University and Miriam Zolin’s journal extempore, which is about to launch its fourth edition and is a must-have for serious lovers of improvised music and the arts.

Then it was on with the music:

The festival’s commission concert always produces something inventive and compelling. Last year it was a work guided by Ren Walters. This year Gian Slater and 13 singers performed at BMW Edge in a work for voices designed to explore the notion of communication between and without words. The singers were Jenny Barnes, Tom Barton, Helen Catanchin, Hailey Cramer, Miriam Crellin, Georgie Darvidis, Ed Fairlie, Bronwyn Hicks, Kate Kelsey–Sugg, Louisa Rankin, Damien Slingsby and Loni Thomson.

The concert was described as exploring what “cannot be put into words — those things we don’t wish to speak of, or those that go without saying”. The work was “written for voices using experimental and extended vocal techniques with intricate, textural layering and conceptual improvising”.

The performance received a standing ovation. I was tired and hungry, but that was soon irrelevant as these singers took us on a journey of discovery that was audibly rich and yet brimming with subtlety. This must have taken so much work to perfect and was no doubt a difficult work for the vocalists. There was so much to take in that it would be great to see and hear the work again, and to reflect on what it was expressing about how we communicate (or don’t).

This was not mainstream jazz (did anyone expect that?) and perhaps it was not improvised, but fairly carefully composed. But it was riveting.

(And I think I used to know a Bronwyn Hicks at The Melbourne Times years ago. She was a cartoonist. Any connection?)

Here’s a few other pics:

Gian Slater et al
In full flight

Gian Slater et al
Gian using a “music box”.

Gian Slater singers
Singers need a hand

FIRST SET — TIM WILSON AND ANDREA KELLER DUO:
Life That Lingers

Andrea Keller
Andrea Keller

Before Gian and her singers, Andrea Keller on piano and Tim Wilson on saxophone played with great empathy and understanding. There was a strong sense that the musicians were listening intently to each other and responding, though their communication was not that visibly apparent. It would be fair to say that for Keller and Wilson there was much that went without saying and much that was best said with music.

Tim Wilson
Tim Wilson

For details of the Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival, including Big Arse Saturday, which I can’t get to because I’m working, visit the MIJFF website.

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