Tag Archives: CD launch

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:

 

 

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SIMPLY HEAVENLY

Allan Browne

Allan Browne OAM

MINI REVIEW: Melbourne International Jazz Festival

Lost in the Stars, Allan Browne Trio with Marc Hannaford and Sam Pankhurst, Monday 3 June 2013 at 8pm, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club

International guests are often the major drawcards at MIJF, giving audiences a chance to hear bands and musicians whose work they would otherwise know only from recordings. But special experiences may come from collaborations with Australian artists or, as in this trio, entirely from locals.

Sam Pankhurst

Sam Pankhurst

In a world premiere and album launch, drummer Allan Browne’s trio introduced interpretations of American pianist Mary Lou WilliamsZodiac Suite and German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen‘s Tierkreis (Zodiac)Williams intended these pieces to be dedicated to fellow musicians born under each astrological sign.

After feeding us some of Count Basie‘s Pound Cake and a rendition of Mal Waldron‘s Warm Canto, the trio played a first set of Taurus, Cancer and Leo and a second set of Scorpio, Virgo and Aires — for each sign playing their take on Williams followed by their interpretation of Stockhausen.

The danger of waxing too lyrical too often about live (or recorded) music is that there’s little room left for what newspapers (for the uninitiated, these were once printed on paper) used to call the “world war III” banner headline. But WTH, this trio’s work was heavenly.

Marc Hannaford

Marc Hannaford

Not only was the music special, but the band was obviously having so much fun performing it that I spent most of the gig with a smile on my face. They played with glee. Hannaford often delights in complexity rather than melody, but this outing was different. The pieces showed much variation in feel and style — at times solemn, at others lively and rollicking. This music was in turn  elegant, playful, stylish, dreamy. It danced, bounced, flowed, flourished. It was also delicate, tentative, eerie and minimal. Browne played with finesse, Pankhurst with warmth, Hannaford with clarity. The use of dynamics was exquisite. 

The second set finished with the Lennie Tristano piece Wow. That pretty much summed up my reaction.

ROGER MITCHELL

Lost in the Stars is available on Jazzhead.

AUSJAZZ IMAGE GALLERY

McALLS FAIR IN SIBLING RIVALRY

REVIEW: Stonnington Jazz 2012
John McAll’s Black Money/Barney McAll’s Chaos Lento: A Guajira Project, Chapel Off Chapel, May 23, 2012

John McAll's Black Money at Chapel Off Chapel

John McAll’s Black Money at Chapel Off Chapel

The brothers McAll performing together in the one venue was always going to be something special — it had never happened before — and it proved to be a real highlight of this year’s festival. The elder brother, John, is in Australia these days and the younger, Barney, in New York.

John McAll

John McAll at the piano in Black Money, with Phillip Rex on bass.

The first set was also a CD launch for pianist, bandleader and composer John McAll‘s second Black Money album, Alter Ego, featuring David Rex on alto sax, Adam Simmons on tenor and contra alto clarinet, Jordan Murray on trombone, Sam Bates on drums and Phillip Rex on bass. With Simmons abroad, Julien Wilson stepped in on tenor at Chapel Off Chapel, but there was no one to fill in on the lower-range  clarinet, which was a pity.

David Rex on alto sax and Jordan Murray (at left).

David Rex on alto sax and Jordan Murray (at left).

John McAll’s eponymous first album Black Money. recorded in New Jersey in 2007 and released in 2009 with a different line-up, has long been a favourite of mine. The darkish allusions, black humour and perceptive inspirations behind John’s compositions are there again on Alter Ego.

Phillip Rex on bass and Sam Bates on drums.

Phillip Rex on bass and Sam Bates on drums.

The band began with I Love Black and I Hate Love, which confirmed that John’s compositions are always full of interest, followed by the robust, vigorous Standing Room, with great solos from McAll, Rex, Murray and Wilson.

John McAll

With feeling: John McAll

The solemn, even melancholy Mirrors followed, with Murray showing why the trombone is so easy to love and McAll’s piano expressive and fluid.

Julien Wilson on tenor sax, John McAll on piano

Julien Wilson on tenor sax, John McAll on piano.

Boogie Dragon, off the first album, came next, followed by ’40s movie-inspired Assassin, which saw McAll right into it and Wilson catching just the right flavour for a desert song. I could almost see “El Aurens” riding past on his camel.

Jordan Murray on trombone.

Jordan Murray on trombone.

Before Juggernaut, which intriguingly refers to the weight of all the responsibilities and troubles we all carry in life, John McAll appeared to take a call on his mobile. Scripted or not, it was in tune with the occasionally irreverent tone of the whole gig with the McAll brothers. The piano solo in Juggernaut was really swinging.

Sam Bates on drums.

Sam Bates on drums.

The set closed with Refugee, with top solos from Rex and Bates. The piece really built in intensity and had a spiky, staccato feel at times, as well some sweeping piano vistas. My only regret was that Black Money did not play Glitter and Dust from the first album, but the set demonstrated that this band, coupled with the elder McAll’s compositions, is — to repeat a cliche — on the money.

Barney McAll's Chaos Lento: A Guajira Project

Barney McAll’s Chaos Lento: A Guajira Project.

For Barney McAll‘s Chaos Lento: A Guajira Project, the line-up was Barney on keyboards, Ben Hauptmann on guitar, Phillip Rex on bass, Craig Simon on drums and Javier Fredes on percussion. According to Wikipedia, Guajira is “country music” in Cuban Spanish, and has a mixture of 3/4 and 6/8 rhythms, but I’m not sure how well that applies to this outing.

With feeling: Barney McAll

With feeling: Barney McAll.

The set began with Barney paying tribute to Mooroolbark (for producing such musical luminaries as Doug de Vries, Rob Barnard and Len Barnard) and dad Jack McAll, before telling a tale about his elder sibling painting rocks gold. Then the band delivered the strongly accented beat of Non Compliance, with Barney making his presence felt with some emphatic piano passages.

Javier Fredes on percussion.

Javier Fredes on percussion.

Then followed the compelling, rhythmically driven pieces Untitled and Transform, the latter with Barney playing piano and keyboard. There was heaps of swing and groove in this, with a beautiful fade.

Phillip Rex on bass, Craig Simon on drums.

Phillip Rex on bass, Craig Simon on drums.

Summer Lawn had Phil Rex deliver a potent solo. Piano was, with bass, the driving force in a sustained exploration of patterns with variations. Perhaps it went on a little long, but I found it mesmeric and felt that it was best described as “power meditation”. There was momentum and involvement here that I could not help but contrast with what I had felt was lacking to some degree in Barney’s performance of Graft at Wangaratta Jazz in 2011.

The final piece for this band, though not the set, was a superb debut of Feb, which was written for this gig. This piece canvassed a range of moods, with the piano opening with reflection and becoming expansive before some hot percussion from Fredes and drama in some “crash & bash” on the piano. I loved the changing colours of the piano in this — towards the end Barney produced a haunting feel with notes floating and short, high runs that had great beauty.

Julien Wilson, David Rex, Jordan Murray

Julien Wilson, David Rex, Jordan Murray

In the final piece for the night, Insight, it all came together — well, the bands did. The brothers McAll sat at piano (John) and keyboard (Barney), while the remaining four from Black Money joined Barney’s band onstage.

Grand larceny: Barney removes brother John from the piano.

Grand larceny: Barney removes brother John from the piano.

It did not take long for the sibling rivalry to surface. Hamming it up awards could have been handed out to the brothers as Barney grabbed John and hauled him off the piano. Of course the elder brother returned on keyboard and the two put their heads together to cap off this extraordinary collaboration with their bands.

First time performing together: The brothers McAll.

First time performing together: The brothers McAll.

The brothers McAll gig was a hoot, but also had plenty of great musicianship to go with the fun and games.

ROGER MITCHELL