ALMOST TOGETHER AGAIN

Barney & John McAll

The McAlls: Barney and John   (Image at right supplied)

DOUBLE PREVIEW

Monash Art Ensemble CD launch: Barney McAll’s Zephryix, 7.30pm Thursday, April 19, Bird’s Basement, Tickets from $29 + booking fee

John McAll’s Black Money launches new album, Secular, 5pm Sunday, April 22, Bird’s Basement, Tickets from $27 + booking fee

You don’t often catch the brothers McAll together on stage, but this week they are coming close to that congruence — performing in the same venue only days apart.

The first — and possibly the only time — these polished and passionate performers appeared together was during the Stonnington Jazz festival on May 23, 2012 at Chapel Off Chapel.

The creativity of these siblings is always evident, although Barney’s flamboyance and energy contrasts with the elder McAll’s distinguished and more reserved presence. Both are capable of splendiferous feats on piano.

Grammy nominated Barney McAll has played on over 100 recordings and has released 13 highly acclaimed solo albums. In Thursday’s concert he joins the critically acclaimed Monash Art Ensemble to perform his six-part suite, Zephyrix.

Barney was commissioned by the Monash Art Ensemble to compose this piece during his residency at the Peggy Glanville-Hicks composer house in 2015. “Whilst there, I had flashes of an image … half man, half bird with one large wing on its right side, dressed in business attire,” he explains.

“Following the abstract advice of this image I decided to fuse the Greek God Zephyr with the mythical Phoenix to create a new beast; the Zephyrix. It’s a hybrid creature which, for me, symbolises the bridging of tensions that occur between our mundane struggles and the evils of life, and the liberating creative expression of our true selves.

“Zephyrix is the musical embodiment of that tension, encapsulating both the strain and release of this dichotomy. It seeks to explore the dialectic between struggle and serenity, and illuminate the myriad of unseen colours, tones and potentials that are held within a new and ever-emerging mind (Metanoia).

“The five birds of alchemy and transformation have been invoked to summon the Zephyrix: Black Crow, White Swan, Peacock, Pelican and Phoenix. They are the sign posts that guide us on our journey toward true serenity and real happiness.”

Zephyrix was premiered at Sydney Conservatorium’s Verbrugghen Hall in October 2015.

The Monash Art Ensemble acts to support the development of excellence in young Australian musicians, foster a culture of innovation among established Australian musicians and encourage community engagement with Australian musicians and music.

The ensemble, founded by Paul Grabowsky in 2012, has successfully embraced this concept and offers a pathway for talented students to interact with and build this basis for a strong and uniquely Australian 21st century musician.

The impressive line-up for the MAE performance of Zephyrix is as follows:

Barney McAll, piano
Jordan Murray, trombone
Josh Bennier, trombone
Paul Williamson, trumpet
Eugene Ball, trumpet
Lachlan Davidson, flute
Lara Wilson, percussion
Phil Rex, bass
Kieran Raffetty, drums
Jonathan Cooper, tenor
Zac O’Connell, alto
Joel Hands-Otte, bass clarinet
Harry Tinney, guitar

Black Money — Secular

I have always associated John McAll with wide-screen cinematic performances, the big stage and large productions, but his work with Black Money is edgy and often darkly humorous. The first Black Money album was recorded in New Jersey in 2007 and released in 2009. Alter Ego followed in 2012, recorded and produced by the ABC’s Mal Stanley. This is a rare opportunity to hear the elder McAll up close.

An inaugural graduate of the VCA’s jazz course, pianist and composer John McAll has been in demand as a musician over two decades. He was musical director and producer of shows At Last The Etta James Story and Here Comes The Night, which sold out Hamer Hall and the Opera House. This Van Morrison homage incorporated the MSO and SSO with McAll’s orchestrations.

Now John is taking a break from producing the latest Black Sorrows album and a busy international touring schedule to release Secular, the third album in a trilogy. Rumour has it there may be special guests along with his Black Money line-up.

John McAll on piano will be joined in this album launch by:

Tim Wilson alto flute
Carlos Barbaro tenor saxophone
Madison Foley trumpet
James Macaulay trombone
Philip Rex bass
Hugh Harvey drums

John McAll has worked with artists such as Gregory Porter, Ross Wilson, Wycliffe Gordon, Brian Abrahams, Renee Geyer, Kate Ceberano and Nichaud Fitzgibbon, as well as playing international concert stages with The David Chesworth Ensemble, Vika Bull and The Black Sorrows.

Here’s a video of Black Money’s Jungle Love:

ROGER MITCHELL

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FINDING COMMON GROUND

Maceo Parker with The Meltdown in A Tribute to Ray Charles.

Maceo Parker with The Meltdown in A Tribute to Ray Charles.  (Image supplied)

QUICK PREVIEW

Melbourne International Jazz Festival, 1-10 June, 2018

Program details are now out for the 21st MIJF, which this year aims to demonstrate that “jazz can happen anywhere”. Over 10 days more than 100 events will feature almost 400 Australian, international and emerging artists.

The usual detailed preview of the festival will be published when time permits, but here is a taste of what’s on offer.

There will be 26 venues across the city, from the Hamer Hall to small clubs, as well as cafes in Melbourne’s west. Among free festival community events will be Jazz Massive – a participatory mass-music making event on the lawns of State Library Victoria.

Melbourne International Jazz Festival Artistic Director, Michael Tortoni, says this year’s festival illustrates that jazz is the common ground that brings together a diversity of artists, genres and experiences.

“This year our program focuses on the waves of influence that jazz has – both within itself and also the influence it has on other music genres. We are really excited to showcase some of the future directions of this vital and ever-evolving art form,” Tortoni says.

Madeleine Peyroux

Madeleine Peyroux                      Image: Shervin-Lainez

International artists will include funk legend Maceo Parker (USA) paying tribute to Ray Charles, jazz-blues chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux (USA), the “(inter)stellar” Sun Ra Arkestra (USA) and Yemen Blues (USA). Modern masters will include Branford Marsalis (USA), Gretchen Parlato (USA), Christian McBride (USA) and Terri Lyne Carrington (USA); alongside future masters such as Nubya Garcia (UK) and Francesco Cafiso (Italy).

Australian artists on the festival program will include The Others, a collaboration between Paul Grabowsky AO, James Morrison and Kram that wowed the audience in its debut at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues in 2017, Harry James Angus’s new project, Struggle With Glory, and Brenton Foster as the recipient of the PBS Young Elder of Jazz Commission.

Melbourne-based Barney McAll will premiere two works: Trilogy of Cycles at Birrarung Marr’s Federation Bells and Sweet Sweet Spirit featuring music by the great gospel composer Doris Akers at Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre.

The festival’s international exchange program with the Tokyo and Singapore jazz festivals is supporting the development and world premiere of The Gravity Project, which brings together contemporary Japanese and Australian improvisers Paul Grabowsky AO, Masaki Nakamura, Kuniko Obina and Aaron Choulai and the Chok Kerong Trio from Singapore.

Jazz Out West returns with local DJ, radio broadcaster and music personality Mz Rizk as guest programmer, focusing on experiences not usually found in a jazz festival, including a cross-genre tribute to high priestess of soul: Nina Simone and emerging crossover artists Thando, Cool Out Sun, KillaHertz and Kalala & The Round Midnights.

Free events will include the return of Sound Walks throughout the city, lunchtime concerts at St James and the long-running artist workshops and Close Encounters series, which has expanded to include career development workshops led by industry experts and practitioners including Chelsea Wilson (Brunswick Music Festival), Fem Belling (The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra), and Marcus Strickland (Christian McBride’s New Jawn / Twi-life).

Family-friendly festival events include Lah-Lah’s Big Jazz Adventure and the Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir at Southern Cross Lane.

There are some venue changes. Sonny Rehe’s Uptown Jazz Cafe is not on board this year, which is a pity as it has contributed substantially to the line-up of artists in past years. The Toff in the Town was a last-minute inclusion last year, but won’t feature this year.

Club Sessions will be held at The Jazzlab in Brunswick,  Dizzy’s Jazz Club in Richmond, Lido Jazz Room in Hawthorn and Southside Jazz Room in Elsternwick.

Larger concerts will take place in Hamer Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, 170 Russell and Darebin Arts Centre. Jazz Out West gigs will be spread over a wide range of venues.

Full program details are now available at the MIJF website.

ROGER MITCHELL

Vale John McBeath

Gerry Koster, John McBeath

Gerry Koster with John McBeath in June 2014 during the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

Vale John McBeath

Today at 2pm in Adelaide, family and close friends will farewell John McBeath, who many in the jazz community will know through his critiques of major festivals and the regular publication of his album reviews in The Australian.

Not everyone was happy with what John wrote — that’s surely inevitable and appropriate for a music critic. But no one doubted his commitment to the task — not an easy one — of using words, in most cases too few words, to convey thoughts about music.

I don’t think criticisms of the critic worried John all that much. I can vividly recall a refrain of his, when assessing festival programs, that too many of the same old artists were appearing in the line-ups. He had a point, although budget constraints always make programming difficult.

John will be missed not only as a scribe, but by those who regularly engaged him in discussions on inspiring artists and performances in the broad church loosely described as jazz, whether well known or obscure. One person in particular who will feel that loss is his good friend Gerry Koster, pictured above with John in a happy moment before a Melbourne International Jazz Festival concert  in June 2014. I like that picture because it captures a little of the comradeship that exists among the small group of media people who follow the local jazz scene.

John will also be missed at Wangaratta when he and his wife, Mary, were able to share brief breaks over a hasty meal amid the bustle of the jazz festival. At those times the topics of conversation were not limited to the music.

Our love and thoughts are with Mary and family at this difficult time.

Martin Jackson of the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative has posted these details of John’s life and work:

“John McBeath, former jazz critic for The Australian and Adelaide’s The Advertiser newspapers (2003-2017) and Australian Jazz Award judge, passed away in Adelaide last night [12 March] after an extended illness. For over 25 years John had been a freelance writer, publishing a wide variety of genres: jazz reviews, news items, travel articles, features, personality profiles, and CD and book reviews for The Adelaide Review, The Republican, The Bulletin, The Australian, The Advertiser, the Melbourne Herald Sun, several regional newspapers and airline inflight magazines.

“He’s won national prizes for jazz reviews and travel writing, and written a memoir book, What Westerners Have For Breakfast (2013), about the five years he spent living in Goa, India, in the 1980s.

“In addition to living in India, he also spent time living in other parts of Australia (managing community radio stations in Cairns, 1990-1993, and Alice Springs,1993-1997), before moving to Adelaide in 1997. Due to ill-health he resigned from his role as jazz critic at The Australian around August last year (being replaced by Eric Myers).”

John’s funeral will be held in Adelaide today — Friday, 16 March, 2018 — in The White Lady Funerals Chapel at 209 Anzac Highway, Plympton, commencing at 2pm. After the service,  a wake in his honour will be held at ‘The Wheaty’ in Thebarton, from 4pm. Small donations to the Cancer Council are suggested in lieu of flowers.

ROGER MITCHELL