It was a hectic day as the two festivals crossed swords for our custom. So with the sounds of the Big Jam ringing in my ears, and after literary delights at the extempore launch, and after the Paul Grabowsky Sextet at Bennetts Lane (phew!) it was time to see off the fringe festival in the best way possible — with great music at a comfortably packed Cafe 303.


Daz Hammond Combo

Darrin Archer on hammond, Hugh Stuckey on guitar, Tim Wilson on sax and Andy Keegan on drums, with Ben Hauptmann sitting in occasionally had the place humming when I arrived and they fired some good energy into the gathering.

Tim Wilson
Tim Wilson

Ben Hauptmann
Ben Hauptmann

Jess Green’s Bright Sparks came on to close the night and close the fringe festival. What a finale! Ronny Ferella on drums had had only one rehearsal (it didn’t seem to matter) in the afternoon with the band, which included Zoe Frater, now a Melburnian, on electric bass. A high-powered crew from up north made up the rest of the band, comprising Jess Green on guitar and vocals, Adrian Shaw on trumpet and percussion, Sandy Evans on tenor sax, John Hibbard on trombone and Lachlan McLean on alto sax.

Jess Green's Bright Sparks
Jess Green’s Bright Sparks

In an energetic, robust set, the Bright Sparks played Orange Rock Song, Your Checkered Shirt, Patterns and Stories, the edgy Alias, the softer Mali-referenced and zydeco-feeling Bamako Youth, Clickety Clack and the Full Moon O’er the Thames and an ode to Nick entitled Dear Mr Cave. There were some great solos from Shaw, Evans, Hibbard, Frater, McLean, Ferella and Green — yes, that’s everyone, but it’s true. There was plenty of room for soloing, but no one was trying to grab the limelight and the compositions allowed for plenty of duos and trios in the highlights.

Adrian Shaw and Sandy Evans
Adrian Shaw and Sandy Evans

Bar 303 was pretty crowded for a gig going so late, but I could not help thinking that, like The Dilworths, here was an ensemble that would really hold a crowd on a big occasion. There is a lot of talent in Sydney and we have the Jazz Fringe Festival to thank for bringing us some as a treat.

Speaking of thanks, Sonja Horbelt in particular and other Fringe committee members deserved a huge thank you from audiences for their efforts in making this festival such a success. Bring on the next MJFF in 2011!

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