Saturday, Aug 27, 2011 at Uptown Jazz Cafe, Fitzroy: Mike Nock piano, Allan Browne drums, Sam Pankhurst bass
Sunday, August 28, 2011 at Bennetts Lane, Melbourne: Mike Nock solo piano
If it’s true that more people in Melbourne go to live music than attend AFL games, it’s also true that sometimes we seem inclined to let some of the best of visiting musicians slip in and out of town unnoticed. Mike Nock, the subject of Norman Meehan’s recent biography entitled Serious Fun: The Life and Music of Mike Nock, was at Uptown Jazz Cafe last night and will play solo piano at Bennetts Lane tonight.
His two sets with Allan Browne and, in their first encounter, Sam Pankhurst on bass were a wholly expected display of “serious fun”, delivering some intense and driving music that possibly followed some rough plan worked out beforehand, but necessarily owed much of its appeal to the magic generated on the night between players who listen and respond.
But the turnout to hear such a magnificent musician was not as robust as it ought to have been. Browne commented during the break that perhaps some patrons were waiting to hear Nock’s solo gig (tonight), but nonetheless the ensemble is Nock’s natural habitat and an ideal way to hear him play. Meehan’s biography makes clear that Nock is a team player who thrives on a shared vibe that is fostered when a group has that ethos of equality. He plays to interact and respond to others.
When Nock visited Melbourne last year to play with Browne and Sam Anning at Bennetts Lane during the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, it was a festival highlight. The pianist had not played with the drummer for years, yet their chemistry was evident.
I look forward to hearing Mike Nock play solo tonight, but I’m glad that the Melbourne Jazz Cooperative and Uptown Jazz Cafe combined to bring us the chance to hear this Sydney-based artist in a trio.
Meanwhile, should Melbourne jazz lovers give themselves a dig in the ribs or even a kick up the backside for not being out there more often when visitors from interstate are in town.
Here’s a couple of images from the Uptown gig, which (like Bennetts Lane) does suffer from some pretty bad lighting when it comes to some players being lit from behind by a spotlight and others being well and truly in the dark: