Category Archives: MIJF 2012

QUITE A PROPER A WAY TO START A FESTIVAL

Review: Three Lanes — Genevieve Lacey recorders, Joe Talia Revox B77, electronics & percussion and Andrea Keller piano, The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre, Friday, June 1 at 6pm for Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2012

Keller, Lacey, Talia

Three Lanes — Keller, Lacey, Talia

The Salon has an air of refinement or gentility about it, even when hosting musicians willing to push the boundaries a little. It seems quite a proper space, in which patrons sit quietly without much chatter, possibly absorbing the beautiful feel of the room. As Andrea Keller, Genevieve Lacey and Joe Talia filed in to present material from their album Three Lanes, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival opened with grace and dignity.

Andrea Keller

Andrea Keller

The trio played six pieces from the album before Keller took time to explain how the project grew from the gathering of the musicians and a wish to explore their talents, including Talia’s skill with anything electronic. As she said, the music is varied in its approach and “in the concepts behind it”. The brief Little Sweet Pea is a merry dance, whereas Between Six and Six employs simple patterns and pauses to build tension, topped with a squirt or two of attractive static.

In Nine Variations, Lacey delivered fine vibrato and Talia dragged on his thin recording tape to create surges and seemed to sample then play back Keller’s piano as if it was woozy or slightly drunk, and even discordant. Dial-twiddling sounds  Talia managed in Little Perisher, again produced by dragging the tape (I kept worrying it would break) worked surprisingly well with Lacey’s recorders.

Genevieve Lacey

Genevieve Lacey

Probably the most effective combination of tape, electronics and the other instruments came in On A Hill, which Keller explained was a “slightly composed” piece inspired by a workshop in which improvisation was compared to a cow bell ringing as a cow eats grass, in that there was no thinking involved and there were just responses or reactions occurring in the moment. It was an intriguing piece, with Talia creating busy sounds that did not prevent a peaceful feel from the slow piano and recorder.

Joe Talia works his magic.

Joe Talia works his magic.

During the playing of extra Collage pieces and Sweet Pea II, I felt that Talia was producing something like electronic versions of “prepared” piano and recorders, with sampled bits of Keller and Lacey’s playing reworked on the fly, but in a way similar to what Erik Griswold, for instance, does with a piano he prepares.

The evening finished, ironically, with an engrossing piece entitled Stay.

I’m not sure what the audience made of this combination, but I think it worked well. Throughout it was evident that Keller and Lacey were attentive to developments emerging as Talia worked his magic. And Keller’s presence on piano was often compelling.

ROGER MITCHELL 

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FESTIVAL TAKES TO THE SKIES

Hiromi

Hiromi is among artists who will fly Qatar Airways to Melbourne. (All About Jazz image)

Ausjazz blog previews the Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2012, which was launched on March 13:

The hubbub on level 24 of The Langham in Melbourne gave way to attentive silence yesterday evening as Murphy’s Law treated the assembled multitude to about four minutes of Big Creatures & Little Creatures: The Modular Suite.

The music was a welcome relief from the necessary formalities of the official launch of this year’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival, which will run from June 1 to June 10.

If the fragment of this commissioned work by Tamara Murphy was any indication, its full performance at Bennetts Lane as part of the festival’s Club Sessions will be compelling.

And if the question on everybody’s lips as program details emerged was how the festival’s focus under artistic director Michael Tortoni would differ from its direction under Sophie Brous, the real story of the night was about a key sponsorship.

As Melbourne’s music glitterati watched a promotional video about the delights of the Middle East state of Qatar, it was dawning on us all what a coup it was to bag Qatar Airways as a festival sponsor. The benefit is obvious — it will be much cheaper to fly in international artists, thus countering to some extent the isolation of Australia from the jazz hotspots of the United States and Europe.

So who are the big names and what is the flavour of this festival? Tortoni described the focus as “jazz royalty alongside the voice of a rising generation” and said MIJF 2012 was “all about what jazz is when the talking stops and the music starts”. Well, every festival has to have its catchphrases, but to take up his theme with another well-worn phrase, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

An initial glance at the program shows it is not overly adventurous, and represents less of a challenge — or an enticement — to audience groups on the fringes of more straight ahead jazz. The very popular multi-stage day of music madness and mayhem at Melbourne Town Hall will not take place this year, due to an absence of sponsorship and most likely of Sophie Brous. That’s a pity, because that gave the recent festivals a welcome edge that it must now fall to the Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival to fill.

The main international artists include pianist McCoy Tyner revisiting the 1963 John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman album, this time with vocalist Jose James and saxophonist Chris Potter.

Potter will also perform some of his own material with Sydney’s Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra as well as some commissioned Australian material. This should be exciting.

James will also feature in the Robert Glasper Experiment, “an Australian premiere event that smashes stylistic boundaries to reshape the future directions of jazz” by “taking hip-hop, R&B, soul and post-modern jazz to never-before-seen places”.

For lovers of Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, US vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater will visit Melbourne for the first time, and also from the ‘States’, Patti Austin will perform a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald with one matinee and one evening performance.

The familiar vocal extravaganza at the Palais this year is entitled “The Way You Look Tonight” featuring Katie Noonan, Vince Jones and Kristin Berardi in an opening night gala.

Likely to attract a much younger audience will be keyboardist-composer Hiromi (Japan/USA) who blends jazz with progressive rock and classical styles. Her first concert will open with US bassist Robert Hurst joining locals Jamie Oehlers and Dave Beck.

Hiromi’s second gig will be a double bill with the Israeli Eli Degibri Quartet, featuring 16-year-old prodigy Gadi Lehavi on piano.

A film-themed package will feature five-time Grammy Award winner and cinematic composer Terence Blanchard on trumpet (in a quartet with Brice Winston on tenor, Fabian Almazan on piano and Kendrick Scott on drums), Australia’s Joe Chindamo performing his arrangements of Coen Brothers film music and an ACMI Jazz on Film program.

The Salon at MRC will host three concerts with Monash University under the Jazz Futures banner featuring the Terence Blanchard Quintet, The Fringe (with George Garzone on sax) and Tarbaby (with Oliver Lake on alto sax).

The Fringe and Tarbaby will also perform at a new venue for this festival, the Comedy Theatre. These outings should keep us awake.
From Europe will come bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons, appearing in the Arcoluz Trio at the MRC after a real highlight opener of pianist Luke Howard with Janos Bruneel (Belgium) on bass.

Samuel Yirga Quartet from Ethiopia will feature the piano prodigy at the Comedy Theatre, opened by locals The Black Jesus Experience.
For lovers of the Hammond B3 (and I’m one), Dr Lonnie Smith (USA) will perform at Bennetts Lane.

In the Club Sessions, Motif from Norway will feature along with Robert Hurst and the Luca Ciaria Quartet from Italy.
Allan Browne Sextet will celebrate the launch of Conjuror — a collection of his jazz poetry — in two sets which should be a festival standout. Sandy Evans will join Lloyd Swanton and Toby Hall for a special closing night celebration presented with the Melbourne Jazz Cooperative.

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival opens on June 1.

ROGER MITCHELL