Joe Chindamo

Dynamics: Joe Chindamo

GIG: WPAC theatre, 11am, Saturday, October 30, 2010

Joe Chindamo piano, Phillip Rex acoustic bass, Raj Jayaweera drums

ONE of the must-have albums of the year, at least for fans of the Coen brothers, is Joe Chindamo’s Another Time Some Other Place, on which he re-interprets songs from these films. Chindamo has the ability to distill the essence of a song and deliver a new version that rivals the original. With the trio at Wangaratta he did not play any pieces from that album, but his treatment of Simon and Garfunkel’s America was exemplary.

The trio opened with Have You Met Miss Jones. Deep rumbles gave way to bouncy piano, with little skating runs dipping in and out of harmonies, then light swing when Rex and Jayaweera joined in to build the intensity. As always, Chindamo was right into interaction with the other two, attentive and responsive as he leaned over the keyboard with concentration, making delicate contributions into and over the rhythm. Rex’s robust bass was impressive.

America opened percussively, Chindamo plucking the piano strings as Rex knocked on the wood of the bass. Controlled variations in dynamics were a feature of the whole set and in this piece the trio moved effortlessly into a driving chordal rhythm which was deep, then light. The familiar melody emerged, was taken up strongly and then allowed to slip back into a fragile hint that was allowed to get lost and then be recovered. There is always interest and development in Chindamo’s arrangements. He is an artist at the keyboard.

Phillip Rex

Robust: Phillip Rex

Next we were taken smartly into a foot-tapping version of Gershwin’s It Aint Necessarily So. Chindamo knows swing intimately and can add a single note at times loaded with verve. His hand occasionally hovers over the keyboard, waiting for the moment. He is polished, but is right into the music and does not seem to be showing off. I loved the variations in dynamics and the interplay in the trio evident in this piece.

The trio took a gentle approach to Dolly Parton’s Jolene, then moved into an original Chindamo composition, Something Will Come to Light, for which he won the 2009 APRA Music Award for Jazz Composition of the year. In this and the engrossing piece that followed, the pianist timed his interventions to perfection, choosing the right moments to make his input and how strongly to contribute.

The trio closed with Moon River. The introduction was regal and the phrasing beautiful as the melody flowed in, the intensity swelling for a brief period. After a quiet digression the melody crept back in to feed our nostalgia, Rex and Jayaweera contributing minimally. This piece and the set closed with Chindamo puddling in the highest notes, seemingly lost in the music.

Raj Jayaweera

Attentive: Raj Jayaweera

Some may prefer a less lyrical, romantic approach in a trio, but Chindamo’s skill is a little akin to that of author Peter Carey — the ability to take a story (or a tune) and make it his own. If you doubt this, listen to his versions of the themes from Fargo or Miller’s Crossing.

Rex and Jayaweera were content not to push themselves forward, but were integral to this performance.


  1. Roger,
    I have really enjoyed reading the blogs from Wang, Joe’s gig was one that I really regret not getting to and now I am regretting it even more

  2. I heard the ABC FM recording of the Wang performance of Jolene and thought it was a gorgeous interpretation that left the familiar melody intact while opening it out improvisationally in an interesting exploratory fashion. I thought that Joe Chindamo and his trio managed to successfully retain the big heart of Dolly Parton’s great C&W tune without descending to pop schmaltz, which for me is the mark of an exceptional arranger, musician and trio.

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