Tag Archives: Chapel Off Chapel

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

TRADITIONAL LOVE’S LABOURS NOT LOST

Denis Ball, Eugene Ball and Howard Cairns

Denis Ball, Eugene Ball and Howard Cairns at Chapel Off Chapel

REVIEW: The Sugarfoot Ramblers / Denis Ball-Eugene Ball Sextet, Chapel Off Chapel, Sunday 18 May, 2pm for Stonnington Jazz

The Sugarfoot Ramblers played at Wangaratta last year in a festival that offered quite a lot of so-called classic jazz. I missed that gig, by graduates or current students of the jazz course at Monash University who shared a fondness for New Orleans Jazz led by Jason Downes — described by artistic director Adrian Jackson as “an elder statesman”. 

The Sugarfoot Ramblers

The Sugarfoot Ramblers

The Ramblers set, with Downes (clarinet), Travis Woods (trumpet), James Macaulay (trombone), Brett Thompson (banjo), Marty Holoubek (bass) and Daniel Berry (drums), was quite different from what followed.

These young musicians served up foot-stomping New Orleans jazz that was fast and fun. The opening Panama set the tone with trombone, clarinet and banjo solos in a piece that grew faster as it progressed.

Brett Thompson and Jason Downes

Brett Thompson and Jason Downes

In The Sugarfoot Stomp Downes delivered a bright, exuberant solo that was a taste of many to come in the set, while Woods’ horn was plaintive despite the upbeat tempo. The band members had fun with James Macaulay’s vocals in Linger Awhile, and I loved Downes’ solo in this as well as the way Macaulay’s ‘bone — as is often the case with this instrument — seemed to make suggestions or hints at notes.

Daniel Berry

Daniel Berry

Berry treated us to some washboard in Just A Little While, with the ‘bone and clarinet conversing. Weary Blues, which was a highlight for the wistful, floating horn notes and a swinging, fast clarinet solo, was introduced as being from “the best album of all time” — festival patron Allan Browne‘s album Out of Nowhere.

Jason Downes

Jason Downes in The Sugarfoot Ramblers

Downes excelled again in Egyptian Fantasy, as did Macaulay, and in Fidgety Feet there was a whole lot happening, but gently, before breakouts by banjo and clarinet and a frenetic finish. Jelly Roll Morton’s Georgia Swing rounded off a thoroughly engaging set full of youthful energy. Toes were tapping throughout.

Ball, Ball and Cairns

Ball, Ball and Cairns

The second set brought a time shift forward to the forties or later and mainstream jazz.  A focus was on this opportunity to hear respected traditional jazz exponent Denis Ball (clarinet) play with son Eugene Ball (trumpet) and learn where some of the younger Ball’s fluidity may have had its roots. They were  joined  by John Scurry (guitar), Howard Cairns (bass), Allan Browne (drums) and — with impeccable timing — Steve Grant (piano).

Howard Cairns

Howard Cairns

This set has a much gentler feel throughout, a change of mood and pace that seemed to give out a vibe to the audience of sit back, relax and be nurtured by this music. There were soft edges, a sense of lightness and subtle nuances to be valued.

There were lovely moments, such as when Denis Ball suggested John Scurry “I’ll listen to your first couple of notes” to decide on the key he was using. It was a testament to the flexibility of jazz musicians.

Ball, Ball and Scurry

Ball, Ball and Scurry

Billie Holiday’s Willow Weep for Me  was my highlight in the set, with solos from Cairns and Scurry, plus the clarinet and horn together absolutely luminous.

Reflecting on these classic jazz sets, I thought how good it was to see how at home Eugene Ball and the Sugarfoot crew with traditional jazz. The love of this music, and the skills needed to play it, are not being lost.

It was also great to see Al Browne had escaped from his recent time with Alfred.

ROGER MITCHELL

IMAGE GALLERY

The Sugarfoot Ramblers

Stonnington Jazz 

BRASIL PACKS THE HOUSE

Asha Henfry and Al Parsons

Asha Henfry and Al Parsons perform with Panorama Do Brasil

REVIEW: SEXTETO ZONA SUL/PANORAMA DO BRASIL at Stonnington Jazz, 8pm 17 May 2014 at Chapel Off Chapel

Brazilian choro (pronounced shoro) and maxixi (mashishi) were new to me, so I was hoping that the music would be accompanied by some explanations of the musical forms. I was not disappointed. The Chapel Off Chapel space was packed to hear Doug de Vries as an engaging advocate for the intricate and rhythmically strong choro regionale that he explained was gaining ground in Melbourne as well as being popular across the world.

Sexteto Zona Sul

Sexteto Zona Sul plays Chapel Off Chapel

The line-up for Sexteto Zona Sul was Doug de Vries (mandolin, tenor guitar), Ken Murray (guitar), Adam May (cavaquinho), Asha Henfry (flute, alto flute), Corey King  (7-string guitar) and Al Kerr (pandeiro). The cavaquinho is a small stringed instrument with four wire or gut strings, similar perhaps to a ukulele. The pandeiro is a hand frame drum popular in Brazil. It can be tuned, and the rim holds metal jingles (platinelas) that are cupped, creating a crisper, drier and less sustained tone than on the tambourine.

The “sextet of the southern zone” treated us to choro sambas, maxixi — which de Vries said was an older form of choro that had a longer history of development than jazz — and tributes to Brazilian musicians, such as Yamanda Costa, who will be performing in Adelaide in July.

Al Kerr, Asha Henfry and Doug de Vries

Al Kerr, Asha Henfry and Doug de Vries in Sexteto Zona Sul

This was music requiring great skill from nimble-fingered players with impeccable timing and virtuosity. Sexteto Zona Sul delivered. Highlights of this set were the laid back choro piece Passatiempo (by Pixinguinha, I think), Moomba Maxixi (based on a dance so suggestive it was banned) featuring two cavanquinhos, Now Is the Time played in a quartet with flute and seven-string guitar and a mandolin and guitar duet for Samba pro Rapha (Yamandu Costa), a tribute to Raphael Rabello. And then there was my favourite for the set, a tribute to Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer by Mauricio Carrilho, in which all instruments stepped in and out, the varied-timbre strings combining beautifully with slow flute.

Sexteto Zona Sul is a talented ensemble and clearly one not to miss.

Next up was Panorama Do Brasil led by Al Kerr on drums and pandeiro, with Asha Henfry (flute, alto flute), Al Parsons (trombone), Matt Boden (piano) and Jorge Albuquerque (bass), plus special guest Doug de Vries (guitar).

Beforehand I’d read that Panorama do Brasil finds inspiration in Brazilian music with influences from the arid interior, the Amazonian basin, and the streets of Rio and Salvador.

Whereas in the first set I found myself marvelling at the finesse and dexterity of the players, in the second set I was grabbed and carried from the opening Canto Pra Oxum onwards. This music seemed to have a stronger vibe, with more propulsion and was, I think, more akin to the jazz with which I was familiar. Matt Boden’s piano contributed to this drive.

Alto flute vibrato, trombone and piano combined to great effect in the slow, drumless ballad Amparo, and sustained notes from flute and ‘bone complemented the playing of de Vries on guitar. Boden’s varied dynamics added a lot.

Doug de Vries

Doug de Vries steals the show as a guest with Panorama Do Brasil

Parsons’ trombone was a treat in Wardrobophone, and the duet (or duel) between de Vries on guitar and Kerr on pandeiro in Num Pagode Em and Plana Hina almost stole the set. Not quite. Doug de Vries did that in a solo during the Baden Powell-inspired Afro-Sambas suite — it was superb. Risco featured Boden in an expression-filled solo and ended with flute and trombone in beautiful accord. Capocira de Carlos had Parsons digging in deep and Kerr’s jazz tune 5am Hendrix on TV was a great way to wrap up the set.

The set ended about 11pm after starting soon after 8pm, with a relatively short interval. As I left for home I was thinking that we had enjoyed a whole lot of talent and a whole lot of music in that time.

ROGER MITCHELL

IMAGE GALLERY

Panorama Do Brasil

Doug de Vries

Stonnington Jazz