Category Archives: MIJF 2013

BAND ON THE RUN

Monash Art Ensemble

Monash Art Ensemble

MINI REVIEW

Monash Art Ensemble with special guest Mark Helias, The Forum Upstairs, Sunday 2 June, 2013, 2pm, Melbourne International Jazz Festival

I’m a bit confused, because this gig was billed as Shapeshifter, but the leaflet given out refers to Monash Art Ensemble, described as “a dynamic new ensemble of 21st century musicians”. That description is apt because this was exciting music indeed. The large ensemble (16 if you count conductor Paul Grabowsky and guest bassist Mark Helias, who is in town to play with Open Loose) opened with a commissioned work, Intrusions, by Eugene Ball, and followed with four pieces by Helias.

What can I say in a mini review? I loved this performance not only because of the music, but because of the talent the young musicians in the band displayed, which demonstrates that we have a lot to look forward to in Melbourne. There was so much diversity and development in these pieces, and the band members showed great concentration and responsiveness throughout. Ball’s composition was intense and at times eerie. I think Erkki Velthheim prepared his violin in this and there was a clarinet played in a bucket of water (possibly by David Griffiths). Frank Di Sario was excellent on bass.

Mark Helias

Mark Helias

Helias’s pieces were amazingly complex, but the ensemble coped well. I thought of Knitting or Quitting as dispassionate but arresting music and I loved the interplay between bass clarinet and bowed bass. Young trombone and trumpet players were excellent in this piece, which had so much to it. Haymaker was exciting music full of bustle and energy, with a hot piano solo by Joe O’Connor. I think Melbourne has a young pianist to match Perth’s Tal Cohen.

The concert closed with the beautifully lush Grabowsky composition Love Like A Curse, which was an excellent wind-down from the earlier animation.

More highlights will occur during this festival, but this was a definite. Full marks to Monash University and all who sail with this project.

Image gallery

ROGER MITCHELL

PUPPY LOVE OVERFLOWS

Snarky Puppy

Snarky Puppy                 (Image supplied)

NEWS: Melbourne International Jazz Festival, until Sunday, June 9

Just announced! More Snarky Puppy love can be expressed in two club sessions this Tuesday night, 4 June. The one at 8pm at Bennetts Lane is sold out, but there is now another at 10pm. Tickets are strictly limited.

So the gigs at the Lane that night will be:

In the club (smaller room): Open Loose (8pm) & Wayland/Hirst/Wood (10:30)

In the jazz lab: Snarky Puppy (8pm and 10pm) & The Grid/Jam (late)

Doors open 30mins before showtime.

Bennetts Lane Jazz Club 

For full program details visit the Melbourne International Jazz Festival website.

ROGER MITCHELL

THE END IS NIGH

The End

The End

PREVIEW: World premiere of Tim Willis’s suite Night & Day at Bennetts Lane, 8pm Saturday 1 June as part of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival

Amid the excitement of international artists arriving for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, which starts tonight (31 May) , it is easy for significant contributions by Australian musicians to slip under the radar.

This year special treats from local musicians include the world premieres on Saturday 1 June of guitarist Tim Willis’s Night and Day, and on Monday
3 June of the Allan Browne Trio’s Lost in the Stars, inspired by the Zodiac Suites of composers Mary Lou Williams and Karlheinz Stockhausen. These should be marked as concerts not to be missed.

Australian quartet Red Fish Blue, which delighted the Chapel Off Chapel audience during the recent Stonnington Jazz festival, will launch its second album, The Sword and the Brush, on Sunday 2 June at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, followed by a separate concert that night in which Jordan Murray on trombone and Paul Williamson on trumpet will join the Rob Burke and Tony Gould Quartet.

Solo in Red

Kynan Robinson and Adam Simmons in “Solo in Red” at The Salon, MRC.

As well, on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 June at 6pm, and Saturday 8 June at 3pm and 6pm, Jazz in the Salon at MRC will feature composer/percussionist Alastair Kerr’s new suite The Archer and the Dancer with Panorama do Brasil, and composer Kynan Robinson’s Solo in Red — a musical exploration of the sparseness and fragility of Cormac McCarthy’s writing — performed by Melbourne sextet Collider. Liza Power wrote about Solo in Red in The Age in August last year.

Last year’s MIJF premiered Tamara Murphy‘s entrancing suite “Big Creatures Little Creatures: The Modular Suite”, performed by Murphy’s Law. Murphy was the 2012 winner of the PBS Young Elder of Jazz Award, which includes $10,000 towards the commissioning and presentation of a new jazz composition.

The aim of the commission is to “provide support for composers at a pivotal point in their career, and to encourage creative flair and distinction in the jazz idiom”. The PBS Young Elder of Jazz Commission is made possible through the support of Mark Newman.

Guitarist/composer Tim Willis is this year’s winner of the award. His band
The End will present Night & Day at Bennett’s Lane at 8pm on Saturday before PBS 106.7FM broadcasts the full work at 9am on Jazz on Saturday hosted by Jim McLeod on 8 June. Tickets are available from Bennetts Lane Jazz Club  or 9663 2856

The End is Tim Willis on guitar, Jon Crompton on alto sax, John Felstead on tenor sax, Gareth Hill on bass and Nick Martyn on drums. The band is known for its original take on jazz-rock.

Night & Day, which will draw on the work of minimalist composers is described as “a study in human emotions” with five movements that “explore emotional transformation and renewal, with subtly interwoven themes acting as a showcase for solo and group improvisation”.

The End has released two albums — the self-titled debut CD and Keep Your Chin Up. The band’s music has been described as being “steeped in the jazz tradition” but bringing “a rock edge that speaks to those who grew up listening to and loving Radiohead and Soundgarden”.

John McBeath, in The Australian, wrote that “This band presents a uniquely satisfying, high energy blend of jazz and rock ideas without subtracting from either genre”. Ron Spain, in Australian Jazz Scene, wrote “If this is the beginning of The End, then one eagerly anticipates the hereafter”.

ROGER MITCHELL