Category Archives: WANGARATTA JAZZ 2010


Ian Date Quartet

Doing the Hot Club in style: Ian Date Quartet

GIG: St Patrick’s Hall, 4pm, October 30

Ian Date guitar, Nigel Date guitar, Howard Cairns double bass, Ian Cooper violin

Ian Date

Intricate work: Ian Date

WHAT a quick trip — from Japan to the Hot Club of France in a few easy steps. With a sense of fun and much agility on strings, Date’s quartet ushered us into the world of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, into gypsy jazz and hot jazz. Cooper on violin was as nimble as a cat on hot bricks, sweeping and swerving and weaving between the cascade of guitar notes and chords. And behind it all was the energetic Howard Cairns, intent as he delivered impetus.

Howard Cairns and Ian Cooper

Nimble: Howard Cairns and Ian Cooper

What was it about this music that appealed so much? I thought about that as the quartet played Swing Guitars (Reinhardt), Norwegian Dance (from Grieg’s Peer Gynt), To Each His Own (recorded in 1947 for the film), Sour Georgia Brown (Date), Deep Purple (deRose) segueing into something Cooper wrote “on the plane coming down this morning”, Daphne (Reinhardt), Out of Nowhere as a waltz and Body and Soul, with Cairns playing a melody.

Howard Cairns

Impetus: Howard Cairns

The quartet displayed deftness and lightness of touch. The music was quick, jaunty and toe-tapping. It was intricate, with fingers falling over themselves on guitar and bass strings. The band was tight. The tempo often seemed like skipping. There was whimsy, fun and the music floated lightly over our heads, the ensemble not taking itself too seriously and obviously enjoying the outing. And there was a great deal of skill in the playing.

Nigel Date and Howard Cairns

Stringing us along: Nigel Date and Howard Cairns

It would be great to hear more music from the Reinhardt-Grappelli era and this quartet delivers it in style.

Howard Cairns and Ian Cooper

Hot jazz: Howard Cairns and Ian Cooper


Yoshimoto Akihiro and Komano Itsumi

Independent: Yoshimoto Akihiro on tenor and Komano Itsumi on trombone.

GIG: WPAC Theatre, 3pm, October 30

Aaron Choulai piano, Yoshimoto Akihiro tenor sax, Komano Itsumi trombone, Sugawa Takashi bass, Tanaka Noritaka drums.

IT RARELY works to arrive late at a gig. And it is equally not a great idea to leave a concert halfway through in order to hear something else. But at festivals clashes often occur, so these less-than-ideal late arrivals and early departures are inevitable. In this case I was late because, to quote former police comissioner Christine Nixon, “I had to eat”. It was a pity because Sisia Natuna was into its third piece, Iriguchi, when I arrived, having missed Beer Gardener and Korema. After listening for a few minutes I was wishing I’d been there earlier.

Sugawa Takahashi on bass and Yoshimoto Yakihiro on tenor

Complexity: Sugawa Takahashi on bass and Yoshimoto Yakihiro on tenor.

The quintet’s playing was complex and had a relentless quality to it in the next piece, ATO 23:5. The sax and ‘bone contributions were strong and independent in what seemed to be a musical saga or journey. Choulai pointed out that Komano Itsumi was playing despite the pain she was experiencing from a slipped disk — a heroic effort.

Kitsamo Itsumi

Playing in pain: Kitsamo Itsumi

In the final piece, Yokka Yoi, which Choulai said could be roughly translated as a four-day hangover, there were powerful harmonies and rhythms and plenty of expression despite the limited variation in dynamics. I was trying to work out whether I could pick up distinctively Japanese aspects to this group’s playing, but if there were any they eluded me. Listeners familiar with Japanese music would have done better, no doubt. The empathy between Sugawa Takashi on bass and Tanaka Noritaka on drums was evident.

Tanaka Noritaka

Empathy: Tanaka Noritaka on drums.

I would have been happy for the set to be extended — it was full of interest.

Aaron Choulai

Flamboyant: Aaron Choulai

I first saw Aaron Choulai in the Commercial Hotel many years ago. He was playing keyboards with Blues Before Sunrise. Born in Papua New Guinea, the pianist/composer has always been an interesting, flamboyant character. He has spent the past two years in Japan, exploring the application of Japanese aesthetics to music. In this outing, clad in an informal sports shirt that seemed to contrast sharply with the more formal dress of the other band members, the pianist seemed at home among some of Japan’s talented young musicians.


Ian Chaplin Trio

Rare performance: Ian Chaplin Trio

GIG: WPAC Memorial Hall, 2:30pm, October 30

Ian Chaplin alto sax, Philip Rex acoustic bass, Simon Barker drums

THIS was an opportunity missed. ARIA award-winning saxophonist Ian Chaplin, who does not appear at gigs that often these days, played with Rex and Barker. It promised to be a fiery, full-on outing, but I had decided this was a time to grab some lunch. So I popped my head in and then left. The hall was packed. Anyone who was at the concert is welcome to provide some feedback.