Oehlers/Harland/Rogers/Grabowsky, MIJF Club Session at Bennetts Lane 9.30pm Tuesday 3 June 2014
Someone I know has taken issue with whether this festival ought to offer artists whose work does not have sufficient relevance to jazz. Well, that debate aside, the issue does not arise when it comes to the two sets by these four players.
If this was a footy dream team exercise and these players were available, they would be snapped up. Bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland were in town with Charles Lloyd’s Sky Trio and for the Greek Project, saxophonist Jamie Oehlers was over from the vibrant Perth scene and pianist Paul Grabowsky was not away working on one of his many projects. What could be more perfect?
I heard only the second concert of two by this quartet on the night. I was told the later set was better and I was happy with that opinion.
This could end up being my festival highlight. This quartet worked together seamlessly, as you’d expect from such inventive and experienced players, whether in all-stops-out mode or in exquisitely crafted and beautiful, quieter pieces. They played my favourite Grabowsky ballad, Angel, and I was in heaven.
I loved seeing Rogers having so much fun. I loved seeing Harland so into it with his eyes closed. I loved hearing Oehlers setting free his notes to drift in the space. I loved watching Grabowsky in full flight, even if from almost directly behind the piano. And I loved the way a vigorous, vibrant and sinewy piece — the closing Saturday in Central Park — was allowed to slow and ease back so gradually, ending with barely a whisper.
I think anyone who heard this quartet for the first time — even if he or she had never heard jazz before — would become an instant addict. This concert was an example of why we love this music.