WANGARATTA JAZZ 2010 — STU HUNTER ENSEMBLE: THE MUSE

Stu Hunter's The Muse

Contrasts and conflict: Stu Hunter's The Muse

GIG: St Patrick’s Hall, 8pm, Sat, October 30

Stu Hunter piano, Matt Keegan tenor sax, Jonathan Zwartz acoustic bass, Simon Barker drums

Hunter’s ensemble for the first of his suites was smaller than for The Gathering. Unfortunately I could stay only for a short time because Sara Serpa was due to perform in the WPAC theatre in half an hour.

Hunter explained the genesis of The Muse and its links to Brett Whiteley and the frequent meeting of beauty and conflict. His piano opened in a ruminative mood. As Keegan’s breathy sax and Zwartz’s bowed bass joined in, we heard the sound of rain drumming on the roof. There was an engrossing solo from Zwartz, drowsy piano, some sax and then Barker suddenly woke things up.

We began to understand the reference to beauty and conflict as flowing sax and solemn piano soliloquies were subjected to jarring bursts of smash and crash from Barker, who at times seemed about to jam the ends of his sticks into the drum skins. This was about contrasts and conflict, about opposites. The sax was so mellow and the piano so tender; the drums were so spiky and harsh.

As I left the hall, Hunter was zipping up and down the keyboard, playing jaunty piano before Keegan sent his sax notes soaring forth and splaying above our heads.

Jonathan Zwartz

Engrossing: Jonathan Zwartz

I thought the larger ensemble used for The Gathering, with Julien Wilson and James Greening, was more compelling, but there is no doubt that both Hunter’s suites are fascinating and inventive forays that are taking improvised music into new territory.

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