Final Andrea Keller Quartet gig, Uptown Jazz Cafe, 8.30pm Friday, May 13, 2016
Every seat was booked at Uptown as AKQ played its farewell concert. Some people were unable to get in until the second set. And, as Mal Stanley mentioned in his brief introduction, it was a bittersweet occasion because this ensemble — in its various incarnations — has shown such creativity over 17 years.
Andrea Keller had written beforehand about the decision that the band should pull up stumps: “From what began in 1999 as a vehicle for me to write music and explore my ideas whilst having a lot of fun with people I adore, grew 17 years of so much more fun, music, collaborations, travel, albums, accolades and deep friendships.
“With Joe Talia’s recent relocation to Japan, I’ve decided to put the AKQ to rest and celebrate the band’s music and achievements through a final gig and the release of a Greatest Hits album.
“With five albums, two international tours, a national tour, collaborations with string quartets, Australian jazz luminaries, international artists and young emerging artists, and winning one ARIA Award, three Australian Jazz ‘Bell’ Awards (including Jazz Ensemble of the Year), plus a further 3 ARIA nominations, and ‘Bell’, AIR and AGE Music Victoria Genre nominations, the band truly achieved beyond my expectations!”
There were many delightful moments at this closing concert, which featured Eugene Ball on trumpet, Ian Whitehurst on tenor sax and Joe Talia on drums.
Andrea took us through some of the band’s history as the quartet played compositions from its rich history and thanked the many musicians and others who had contributed to and supported AKQ over the years. Special mention was made of Martin Jackson and his Melbourne Jazz Co-operative.
In the opening set I found Broken, For Bernie (written for the late Bernie McGann) and Jim’s Favourite making me regret that this group’s time was at an end.
In the second set, Andrea’s compositions written in Prague and intended for the band with a bass player — Prague 10 and When Sometimes We Become What We Were Born For (which had its origins in a poem of hope circulated by pianist Barney McAll) — were deeply moving, and the lengthy Belonging was superb.
There are a few images below.