Tag Archives: Barney McAll

I DO LIKE MONDAYS

Stephen Byth

Stephen Byth on alto with Barney McAll’s Non Compliance Mondays

REFLECTION

Barney McAll Non Compliance Mondays, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Melbourne, 8pm on February 15, 22 and 29.

Mondays at Bennetts Lane were Allan Browne‘s night. He brought philosophy, poetry and humour to many evenings of wonderful music, ably assisted by many musician friends and colleagues. He also brought much warmth.

I’m no one will try to replace Al Browne, but a week ago on Monday evening it was a delight to see and heat pianist Barney McAll join a bunch of talented young musicians in two sets so full of life and fun that surely our much-missed occupant of the drum kit would have heartily approved.

In the youthful line-up with Barney was Paul Cornelius tenor, Stephen Byth alto, Chris Vizard trombone and Keiren Rafferty drums. Phillip Rex provided his usual exemplary input on bass.

I loved the vigour and enthusiasm, along with the obvious talent, of these young musicians. I was also impressed by McAll’s passion as their guide and mentor — he was attentive and eager to offer praise and to push members of the group to show their skills.

Above all, Barney McAll’s Non Compliance Mondays just seemed to be a natural fit for the start of the week, kicking us off with energy and propulsion. And lots of fun.

Tonight (February 15) the line-up includes Flora Carbo, Sam Anning and Luke Andresen.

After that, who knows? But we know they won’t be compliant.

ROGER MITCHELL

A few images below:

 

 

A SANDWICH OF FOOD FOR THE SOUL

Mike Nock at The Wheeler Centre

Mike Nock at The Wheeler Centre

REFLECTION:

A Conversation at The Wheeler Centre and three concerts at The Malthouse on Saturday 7 June 2014 for Melbourne International Jazz Festival

1pm: A Conversation with Mike Nock

Improvising musicians are always listening to the others in the band, on the lookout for something they can pick up on and take somewhere. Journalists are always on the lookout for the angle — the unifying aspect that can help make a collection of events into a story.

Mike Nock handed me the angle to this post about his Wheeler Centre conversation and the three gigs to come later, although I did not pick up on how it would work until the evening. He spoke about a lot of aspects of music in this hour, including the fact that he once sang at the London Palladium, but more about these topics later if time permits.

I want to highlight a couple of Nock’s statements about jazz. He said jazz is “about connecting with people emotionally”. Later he said, “It is food for the soul — that’s what jazz is.”

I was happy to hear a musician of Nock’s stature say this, because I am at times moved to write food-for-the-soul-type comments about the music that moves me, although I am wary of slipping into sentimentality and aware of reactions to what’s played being subjective. If I do write thus about a musical experience I seem to be nagged by an inner voice wanting to dismiss this sort of talk as emotional claptrap and asking what it really means to say something “feeds” the “soul”.

That’s a topic for later, perhaps, but as it turned out, the Malthouse gigs later that evening — ironically, perhaps, the two before and after Nock’s gig with Laurence Pike — prompted me to want to use that emotive description.

Mike Nock at The Wheeler Centre

Mike Nock at The Wheeler Centre

7pm: Hunters & Pointers

First on stage were members of Hunters & Pointers, who had not performed together for 21 years. They were John Hoffman on flugelhorn, Graeme Lyall on saxophone, Tony Gould on piano, Ben Robertson on double bass and Tony Floyd on drums. How much talent can you fit on one stage?

From the opening notes I just wanted to find better words than smooth to describe this quintet’s work. Like a well-oiled trombone slide these luminaries of Australian jazz just let the notes slip into the auditorium and hang there in space.

I often prefer tension-filled music that’s prickly and sharp-edged. But this was sublime stuff that I knew would draw out that stuff about “food for the soul”. Luckily, I had Mike Nock’s words to provide support.

After Just Friends, my favourite vocalist Kristin Berardi joined Gould for Body and Soul, then the band for a vivacious rendering of Tea For Two. In I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face, Lyall delivered some super smooth alto sax that was fat and furry, Floyd’s work on brushes and mallets was superb, and Gould’s solo was a treat. This piece drew a loud “Yes” from the audience and justifiably so.

In mid concert there was some horseplay and even a joke, before the set’s highlight, for me — Berardi’s performance in Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most. Her vocals in this were eloquent, sensitive and yet not sentimental at all. The audience forced an encore, It Could Happen to You, that featured a solo with Robertson really jumping and evolved into a really swinging number.

This was food for the soul part one.

Tony Floyd and John Hoffman

Tony Floyd and John Hoffman

Kristin Berardi with Hunters and Pointers

Kristin Berardi with Hunters & Pointers

Kristin Berardi with Hunters and Pointers

Kristin Berardi with Hunters & Pointers

Graeme Lyall

Graeme Lyall

Tony Gould

Tony Gould

Tony Floyd

Tony Floyd

Ben Robertson

Ben Robertson

John Hoffman

John Hoffman

9pm: Mike Nock and Laurence Pike

As mentioned, this set had a different sort of appeal. Immediately I was struck again by Nock’s ability to create an air of reverence that is totally engrossing, yet does not require many notes to be played.

Pike was extremely busy at times on drums and percussion, playing almost as if possessed — but in a muted fashion. (What is conveyed comes as much from what he holds back as by what he actually does, if that makes any sense. An example is the vigour with which he goes to hit with brushes, yet hardly any sound emerges.) I was reminded of a Cannonball Adderley live gig in which you can hear the audience respond to what’s hinted at by the rhythm section.

Nock built tension and focus, commanding attention. As the set progressed, both Pike and Nock were tinkering at sounds, producing electronic static along with rattles and the shaking of bells, plus short flurries of piano notes between pauses. I thought there was a lot in common with the Alister Spence Trio‘s set of the previous evening.

I was not moved to describe this as food for the soul. My appreciation of the set was more dispassionate. The appeal lay in the fascination of a changing landscape.

Laurence Pike

Laurence Pike

Laurence Pike

Laurence Pike

Mike Nock

Mike Nock

Mike Nock

Mike Nock

11.20pm: Julien Wilson Quartet

The finish of this narrative is probably fairly obvious by now. Julien Wilson on clarinet and tenor sax joined Barney McAll (over from New York) on piano, Jonathan Zwartz on acoustic bass and Allan Browne on drums and cymbals to complete a dream line-up.

I had lost any urge to dash off to Bennetts Lane to hear Django Bates Beloved play Charlie Parker. Another time. I wanted — wait for it — food for the soul, and this was the quartet to provide exactly that.

They began with Ellington’s The Feeling of Jazz, then Deep Night followed by a new ballad, Bernie, in honour of the late great Bernie McGann. Weeping Willow followed as a tribute to recently departed Gil Askey. There were great solos by Browne and McAll in this. In particular I loved how the quartet ended this and the previous piece, allowing them to gradually slip away. It was appropriate, I thought, to have such peaceful departures for these two characters of jazz.

From the opener, Wilson showed again that he continues to play with assurance and to draw on deep inspiration that is clearly a sustaining force.

They played another new piece, Rain Man, and ended with Farewell off the album This Is Always as an encore.

McAll seemed attentive rather than flamboyant on the night. He later said how much he appreciated Browne being so zen at the drum kit.

This concert was good for the soul. It was the perfect ending to the penultimate day of MIJF 2014.

ROGER MITCHELL

Jonathan Zwartz

Jonathan Zwartz

Barney McAll

Barney McAll

Barney McAll and Julien Wilson

Barney McAll and Julien Wilson

Allan Browne

Allan Browne

Julien Wilson and Jonathan Zwartz

Julien Wilson and Jonathan Zwartz

Barney McAll

Barney McAll

 

CHANTAL FIRES A CANNONBALL INTO A TOUGH CROWD

Chantal Mitvalsky

Chantal Mitvalsky and Darrin Archer in Cannonball

REVIEW: David Rex Quartet / Cannonball, Chapel Off Chapel, Tuesday 20 May, 8pm for Stonnington Jazz

Vocalist, DJ and PBS broadcaster Chelsea Wilson introduced this two-set gig with lively enthusiasm, and there was every reason to look forward to what was in store from the brothers Rex. Alto saxophonist David, described by expatriate New York pianist composer Barney McAll as “the finest alto saxophonist in Australia today” was joining his sibling, acoustic bass powerhouse Philip. David Allardice was at the piano and Sam Bates was sitting in on drums in the absence of Danny Farrugia.

David Rex

David Rex plays Stonnington Jazz

The quartet played eight pieces, opening with John Coltrane’s Straight Street and closing with the catchy, upbeat Mr Hyde, in which we heard Allardice thoroughly warmed up on the keyboard, an absolute ripper of a bass solo and a strong alto solo to finish.

There was a lot to like in the set — the highlights for me were Philip Rex‘s solos — but either the audience was unresponsive or some interplay was missing between the players, because the vibe did not seem to be there on the night. We heard some super smooth, dreamy sax in David Rex‘s ballad Shades of Colour and some slightly bent alto notes in the classic Body and Soul (“a quick ballad to show how slow we can play”), plus tougher and faster bop in Slap It. But Hammond Song seemed to lack a real buzz and in general the quartet seemed to be finding it hard to fire up the small crowd.

Philip Rex

Philip Rex

I felt that a pianist such as John McAll may have added the pizzazz and flamboyance to arouse the audience on the night. Yet there was no denying the individual talents of the Rex boys on alto sax and double bass.

Tom Lee on bass and David Wilson on alto sax

Tom Lee on bass and David Wilson on alto sax

The second set brought on another alto saxophonist, Tim Wilson, who formed Cannonball to explore the joyous, soulful, grooving music of the great Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley. He was joined by Paul Williamson (trumpet), Darrin Archer (piano), Tom Lee (bass), Sam Bates (drums) and Chantal Mitvalsky (vocals).

To be honest, I was hoping to hear this band play pieces such as One for Daddy-O; Sack O’ Woe; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; Limehouse Blues or Walk Tall, but I had to be content with Work Song among my Adderley favourites.

Chantal Mitvalsky

Chantal Mitvalsky

That said, we were treated to a great trip down memory lane, beginning with the bright opening track The Chant, featuring top solos by Wilson and Williamson. We were not long without vocals and as soon as Mitvalsky came on for Ten Years of Tears — which included great bass work by Lee — the songstress became the focal point of the band. I think it was a tough audience, but Mitvalsky gradually roused them and won them over with the power of her personality and vocal range.

David Williamson

David Williamson

A restrained Williamson solo in If You Never Fall in Love With Me was a treat, as was Wilson’s alto in the bluesey Since I Fell For You, in which Mitvalsky’s vocals were expressive and powerful. In Work Song her forceful vocals carried conviction.The trumpet was another highlight in this piece.

Chantal Mitvalsky

Chantal Mitvalsky

Cannonball delivered the goods and no doubt reminded some in the audience of the Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley association. As a lover of the instrumental Adderley, I had to quell a wish to hear more of the band unadorned, but that’s a personal preference. I reckon Mitvalsky’s presence made the night for many at Chapel Off Chapel.

ROGER MITCHELL

Stonnington Jazz 

Tim Wilson

David Rex