Tag Archives: Bennetts Lane

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:

 

 

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COOL SAX AND SAM’S KITCHEN

Angela Davis

Angela Davis during her quartet’s MWIJF performance at Bennetts Lane

REVIEW

Angela Davis Quartet, Melbourne Women’s International Jazz festival, Wednesday 9 December, 8.30pm at Bennetts Lane

Line-up: Angela Davis alto sax, Tony Gould piano, Sam Anning bass, Sam Bates drums

I’m showing my age, but the name Angela Davis brings to my mind the 1960s political activist in the US rather than a young saxophonist. But it’s time for me to move on.

In music, as in food, I am a lover of contrasts. I like black pepper on vanilla ice cream, fresh fig with a dash of Three Crabs fish sauce (the brand is important). And I can be moved by the beauty of a simple phrase or melody and yet also totally captivated by the most fiery, out there antics in the music you’d often hear at Melbourne’s Make It Up Club.

It’s the zone in between that at times does not grab me, I think because of my desire for tension, complexity, abrasion or propulsion in music on one hand, or exquisite simplicity and beauty on the other.

Some will share or understand this view, others won’t. It is only relevant because it influences my reaction — much as I may wish otherwise.

How is this palaver relevant to this outing by saxophonist Angela Davis, who has recently returned to Australia after having lived in New York City for the past eight years?

Well, John McBeath in one of the Murdoch newspapers I refuse to buy said Davis “has a beautifully elegant, honeyed alto tone, reminiscent of Paul Desmond” and Step Tempest has referred to her “sweet tone” and said “for Ms Davis, the ‘art’ is found in the ‘melody’”.

I’d agree. In this outing with Sam Anning (also recently returned from years in New York), maestro Tony Gould and Sam Bates on drums, Davis seemed to offer the epitomy of cool saxophone, with a pure, clean tone. The gravelly abrasiveness and guttural antics of some saxophonists was not there.

Her purity of tone was ideally suited to the pieces chosen, including Fujiyama and the sprightly Toki’s Theme from Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Impressions of Japan, gentle Joanna’s Waltz (Frank Wunsch), a warm rendition of Annie Laurie, the moving original Hymn For the Lonely and Johnny Mandel’s Emily.

Two duets with Gould — Martha (Tom Waits) and variations on Abide With Me — were especially beautiful.

I particularly warmed to the quartet’s energy and swing on Davis’s engaging compositions 41 St Nick and A Thousand Feet from Bergen Street. I also loved the look on Sam Anning’s face when Angela Davis told him she had been able to look into his kitchen from her apartment across from his in Harlem.

During her time in the US, Angela received a Masters of Music from the University of the Arts and studied with many saxophone greats including Dick Oatts, Lee Konitz and Steve Wilson.

Davis has two albums — The Art of Melody (2013) and Lady Luck (2015). If she is back in Melbourne for a while, jazz fans can look forward to some new compositions, and perhaps even new insights into what went on in Anning’s kitchen.

ROGER MITCHELL

Here’s a few images:

HOW SUITE, HOW SEAMLESS

Arlene Fletcher at the launch of Timing.

Arlene Fletcher at the launch of Timing.

REVIEW

CD launch of Timing by Arlene Fletcher Trio as part of the Melbourne Women’s International Jazz festival, Tuesday 8 December, 8.30pm at Bennetts Lane

Line-up: Arlene Fletcher double bass, Harry Cook piano, James Milic drums

This trio has been out and about for some time with the material from the new album, Timing, a live album that was recorded at Bennetts Lane in February, 2015, so the musicians know it — and themselves — well. The result — billed as “a turning point of pulling away from forms and improvising as a trio” — is seamless and organic, the intensity swelling and receding within the pieces composed by Fletcher and Cook.

I heard them at Long Play in Fitzroy North in mid November, Cook playing Nord, and it was evident then that the trio can build momentum and usher in changes that sustain interest, so that each piece is a journey.

In the first set they played mostly compositions from the album, plus an improvised solo from Fletcher. The title track and Fletcher’s Dandelion (“a happy tune with lots of minor chords”) were engrossing, Cook’s Break included some deft brush work from Milic and the closing Valley opened vistas as it waxed and waned.

Apparently this gig came with free icy poles, but for me the highlight came after the break when the trio played parts I, II and IV of Twenty Months — a suite Fletcher composed for a quintet and linked to her poetry, which was handed out to patrons.

Energetic renditions of Whiz Kid and Anti-Freeze followed, but I wanted to hear more of the suite, which really worked with the trio.

No doubt this trio will take us on new adventures — perhaps even recording Twenty Months.

ROGER MITCHELL

Here’s a few pictures: