3. LIGHTHOUSE JAZZ ENSEMBLE
A third Ausjazz blog highlight of the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival is England’s Lighthouse Jazz Ensemble, which includes saxophonist and bass clarinettist Tim Garland (who has played with pianist, keyboardist and composer Chick Corea and drummer, percussionist and composer Bill Bruford), Welsh pianist Gwilym Simcock and Israeli-born drummer Asaf Sirkis, who has lived in London since the late 1990s.
Artistic director of the festival, Adrian Jackson, describes the group’s music as melodic, with a lot of Middle Eastern rhythms, modes and modalities. “It’s an interesting fusion of the Middle Eastern, the Celtic and jazz standards.”
Rhythms from Spain and South America may also be heard in their music.
Garland is quoted on the festival website as saying: “If you’ve not heard our trio before, we trust you will have the same reaction that I’ve heard many times now at our gigs: ‘I came and I wasn’t sure if I liked jazz, as I wasn’t sure what jazz was! — If this is jazz, then I love it!’ Lighthouse is an energetic celebration of how different musical influences can blend well together through improvisation. Grooving, melodic tunes are the starting point for quick-fire interaction and some very, very cool virtuosity!”
Lighthouse will perform on Friday, November 2 at 8pm, and on Saturday, November 3 at 11am, on both occasions in the WPAC Theatre.
They are also playing in Sydney at venue 505 on Wednesday, October 31 and the following night, Thursday, November 1, at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne.
Simcock, billed as one of the fastest-rising stars of British jazz, will perform solo on Saturday, November 3 at 2pm, in Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Like Australian pianist Tim Stevens, Simcock has has evoked comparisons with Keith Jarrett, but patrons will have decide for themselves whether that is an accurate comparison or another case of a pianist likened to Jarrett without much thought.
He has performed in the big band setting, or with such artists such as Bill Bruford, Kenny Wheeler, Dave Holland, Bob Mintzer and Bobby McFerrin. Simcock’s solo album is entitled Good Days At Schloss Elmau.
Gwilym is quoted on the festival website as saying, “I love to make music that engages and moves people. For me, the emotional connection a listener can have with music is the main thing I think about when I’m writing new material, and it is important to me that each tune is a story and takes you on a journey. It’s a huge pleasure to be a performing musician, and I hope that whenever I play a concert that sense of fun and enjoyment is transmitted to, and shared by, the audience.”
More highlights are on the way, demonstrating that it would be unwise to even consider not being at Wangaratta for the festival. And, before anyone points out the obvious, of course there will be more than 12 highlights — that’s just a convenient number I chose because it was higher than the usual “10 of the best”.