Ninth reason


9. A suite creature feature

I had the privilege of reviewing the debut of Big Creatures and Little Creatures, which Murphy’s Law — led by bassist Tamara Murphy — performed at Bennetts Lane, Melbourne, in June this year for Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2012.

PBS Young Elder of Jazz Competition winner Murphy wrote the suite for her band, which comprises the bassist, two drummers — Danny Farrugia and Joe Talia, also on electronics — with Jordan Murray on trombone and Nashua Lee on guitar.

In the Ausjazz blog review, I wondered how much was improvised on the night and how much was scripted, because “none of the musicians appeared to be using any charts, and there was a level of concentration and intensity that usually accompanies spontaneous improvisation. Clearly the musicians were highly attentive to what the others were up to, but it was almost as if they were following a script that was not written down, yet was in their heads.”

It was an impressive performance. But it deserved a wider audience and another airing, so I recall expressing the hope that this suite would be performed again, “perhaps at a Stonnington Jazz or at Wangaratta”.

Adrian Jackson has given us the opportunity at this year’s Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival.

The suite has five movements, each featuring a member of the ensemble.

On the festival website, Murphy describes Big Creatures and Little Creatures as “fairly simple music”. She says each movement has a particular musical theme or character, which is used as a basis for improvisation.

“We deconstruct the movements as part of the suite. We call it a ‘modular’ approach, as the order of movements is not set and can be rearranged, or led by any member of the ensemble.

“We’ll probably play one long set of music, but with smaller musical structures comprising the larger, and it will be very dynamic. We have two drum kits too – so the grooves are very strong — and sometimes in stereo! We try to use the band both in conventional and unconventional ways. The audience will hopefully walk away not knowing what material was composed and what was improvised.”

Performance: Sunday, November 4, at 4pm, St Patrick’s Hall


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