MINI REVIEW: Melbourne International Jazz Festival
Lost in the Stars, Allan Browne Trio with Marc Hannaford and Sam Pankhurst, Monday 3 June 2013 at 8pm, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club
International guests are often the major drawcards at MIJF, giving audiences a chance to hear bands and musicians whose work they would otherwise know only from recordings. But special experiences may come from collaborations with Australian artists or, as in this trio, entirely from locals.
In a world premiere and album launch, drummer Allan Browne’s trio introduced interpretations of American pianist Mary Lou Williams‘ Zodiac Suite and German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen‘s Tierkreis (Zodiac). Williams intended these pieces to be dedicated to fellow musicians born under each astrological sign.
After feeding us some of Count Basie‘s Pound Cake and a rendition of Mal Waldron‘s Warm Canto, the trio played a first set of Taurus, Cancer and Leo and a second set of Scorpio, Virgo and Aires — for each sign playing their take on Williams followed by their interpretation of Stockhausen.
The danger of waxing too lyrical too often about live (or recorded) music is that there’s little room left for what newspapers (for the uninitiated, these were once printed on paper) used to call the “world war III” banner headline. But WTH, this trio’s work was heavenly.
Not only was the music special, but the band was obviously having so much fun performing it that I spent most of the gig with a smile on my face. They played with glee. Hannaford often delights in complexity rather than melody, but this outing was different. The pieces showed much variation in feel and style — at times solemn, at others lively and rollicking. This music was in turn elegant, playful, stylish, dreamy. It danced, bounced, flowed, flourished. It was also delicate, tentative, eerie and minimal. Browne played with finesse, Pankhurst with warmth, Hannaford with clarity. The use of dynamics was exquisite.
The second set finished with the Lennie Tristano piece Wow. That pretty much summed up my reaction.
Lost in the Stars is available on Jazzhead.