It’s not news that, when it comes to improvised music, good things happen in Perth. Lots of names come to mind, including the WA Academy of Performing Arts, Johannes Luebbers and Jamie Oehlers.
A week ago, exciting young pianist Tal Cohen was at Bennetts Lane with fellow Perth musicians Oehlers on tenor sax, Chris Tarr on drums and Pete Jeavons on bass, playing material from his album Yellow Sticker. I regret not having made it to this outing.
This week Melbourne has a chance in three gigs to hear from Russell Holmes on piano and keyboards, as well the talented young trio members Mike Perkins on drums and Karl Florrison on double bass.
The first outing, at the Lane, delighted an appreciative audience and confirmed again that what is happening out west is worth hearing.
Tonight, at Bar 303, the trio will open at 8pm before Stephen Magnusson and the Julien Wilson Quartet.
On Thursday he will play at Paris Cat along with his daughter Sarah Holmes, who plays bass and her compositions with The Outfit.
The Outfit is a Melbourne group playing songs about coffee, knitting and tumbleweeds. Band members are Daniel Brates on drums, Diego Villalta on guitar, Rob Simone on saxophone and Louise Goh on vocals.
The Holmes family musical connection stretches way back. Russell’s father was a prominent Perth jazz guitarist and vocalist. Russell started playing as a toddler and has been playing piano for more than four decades.
Since 1989 Russell has lectured at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, specialising in theory and rhythm studies, harmony, arranging and individual tutoring in contemporary and jazz piano.
In two sets on Tuesday at the Lane, the Russell Holmes Trio served up some originals from its current released EP-length CD Restless, as well as a Troy Roberts arrangement of Bye Bye Blackbird and some Thelonious Monk.
There were some excellent solos, but what stood out on the night was that this trio is cohesive, well practised and brimful of energy. Lots of drive comes from Holmes on piano working extremely well with Perkins, who is constantly attentive and responsive. Florrison showed strength, warmth and space in his work.
I had previously heard only the Fire and Rain album featuring arrangements of James Taylor songs, on which Holmes has a different line-up. The music delivered by his latest trio was compelling, often powered by tension and with deeply embedded swing. This trio has plans to tour nationally and in Europe. It is a band confirming that it is definitely not all quiet on the western front.