Tag Archives: Gary Costello


Grabowsky, Di Sario, Browne

Credit where it’s due: Grabowsky, Di Sario, Browne

REVIEW: Melbourne Jazz Co-operative 30th Anniversary ConcertSunday, January 27 at The Edge, Federation Square at 2pm

The music spoke most eloquently at The Edge on Sunday, but some perceptive words accompanied it. Paul Grabowsky, one of three musicians to perform at the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative’s first concert, held at RMIT’s Glasshouse Theatre on the Sunday afternoon of January 30, 1983, was obviously struggling to plumb the mystery of Arts Victoria‘s decision to cut the purse strings.

Allan Browne

Body of music: Allan Browne

Before joining the other original MJC artist, Allan Browne, in a trio with Frank Di Sario — who in a way was sitting in for esteemed bassist, the late Gary Costello — Grabowsky said that, after listening to the earlier two sets, he could only wonder why any arts funding body would choose to cut support for music such as this.

He also reminded us that the development of music is as important as the playing of it, so the role of this co-operative is integral to the individual styles and works of Australian musicians.

Other words that added to the music commemorating this anniversary came from reedsman Julien Wilson, who has campaigned vigorously on behalf of the MJC. He said that, despite the significant loss being faced by professional musicians, ever since the halt in funding “every time I play it feels like a celebration”.

This concert to honour 30 years of achievement was bitter sweet. Arts Victoria’s timing was so bad. Yet Wilson spoke for the audience and the other musicians: this felt like a celebration.

Any one of the three sets could have served as musical sustenance enough. This was inspired programming by the MJC’s Martin Jackson — there was sufficient difference in approach from each trio, yet not such a radical change as to make any in the audience uncomfortable.

Tamara Murphy

Ever better: Tamara Murphy

Pianist Andrea Keller joined bassist Tamara Murphy and Browne at the drum kit in a first set that was beguilingly beautiful, delivered by Keller with compelling strength and presence, and by Browne with his characteristic ability to let his body freely express feelings with stick, brush or hands. Murphy seems to play better each time she performs.

The trio played Keller’s compositions All Colours Grey (Parts 1 and 2) and That Day, Murphy’s Travellers and Lullaby and Browne’s Cyclosporin.

Andrea Keller

Compelling strength and presence: Andrea Keller

Before the set ended, Keller played two pieces from an unreleased solo recording, Family Portraits, in which she used a loop pedal. This technique, which had the pianist’s head disconcertingly disappearing as she bent to adjust settings, was especially effective in Without Voice, a tribute to the three grandparents she had never met.

Barney McAll

Flair, virtuosity and humour: Barney McAll

Opening the second set with three solo pieces, expatriate pianist/composer Barney McAll displayed his flair, virtuosity and engaging humour, though he did not bring along his zombie clown puppet Feral Junior as he did recently to performances at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club. Now residing in New York, McAll is an example of how the MJC can nurture an artist of talent and originality.

Julien Wilson

Iridescent beauty: Julien Wilson

Saxophonist Wilson, forced to improvise without his usual trio, joined McAll and Sydney bassist Jonathan Zwartz in their debut outing together. It was fascinating to watch McAll and Zwarts observe, adjust and make this trio work.

Wilson, who admitted to possibly channelling the Mingus tune Goodbye Pork Pie Hat towards the end of his unnamed composition, played with iridescent beauty throughout the set.

Jonathan Zwartz

Good work: Jonathan Zwartz

Highlights were the Wilson and McAll solos in Hermeto Pascoal‘s Desencentro Certo (Certain Disencounter), Zwartz’s work in Wilson’s tribute piece entitled H and Wilson’s move to clarinet in Farewell (“a celebration for those who are no longer with us”), which was enlivened by Browne sitting in on drums.

Paul Grabowsky

Consummate profundity: Paul Grabowsky

Another farewell, Grabowsky’s tribute to Gary Costello entitled Abschied, opened the final set with Di Sario and Browne. This dark, compelling piece was followed by Last King of Poland and the energetic Cryptostatic, with a segue into Psalm.

Di Sario and Browne gave Grabowsky space in this set, but were ready to intervene spiritedly.

It felt as if the auditorium was concentrating as one as the trio began the world premiere of Grabowsky’s Love Like A Curse. There was an encore, but I would have preferred to have this concert end with the consummate profundity of that composition.

Frank Di Sario

Honouring Costello: Frank Di Sario

Out beside the microphone from which 3PBS-FM program manager Owen McKern so capably hosted this MJC gig was an empty chair. The idea, previously tried without much success by Clint Eastwood at the US Republican National Convention, was that the vacant seat was for Victoria’s Premier, Ted Baillieu.

Eastwood has probably killed off any hope of the empty chair as a potent symbol, but if only the MJC could get Mr Baillieu to come to a concert such as this, I suspect the battle for funding would have some hope of success. Perhaps, to attract him to a gig, fans of jazz and improvised music ought to send him strong vibes of Love Like A Curse.



Barney McAll

Expatriate Barney McAll will return from New York to celebrate with MJC.

Will Arts Victoria notice? The co-operative that it recently decided was not worth a penny will turn on a mini festival of four concerts to mark its 30 years of bringing live improvised music to Melbourne audiences:

Melbourne has recently had cause to grieve. Its vibrant jazz scene has been threatened by Arts Victoria‘s mystifying decision not to provide any financial support in 2013 to the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative, an organisation integral to supporting the growth of musical talent and the development of live improvised music in this culturally rich city.

Now Melbourne has cause to celebrate. Over the Australia Day weekend the rich vein of annual festivals that includes the Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival,  Stonnington Jazz and the Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival is to be complemented by a mini festival to mark a historic event. But will Arts Victoria notice?

To celebrate 30 years of presenting continuous annual jazz programs in this city the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative will stage four concerts, beginning with a free outdoor lunchtime concert at City Square on Friday, January 25 from noon to 2pm featuring guitarist Craig Fermanis’ Trio followed by pianist Daniel Gassin’s Sextet.

On Saturday, January 26, the Jex Saarelaht Quartet with Sydney bassist Jonathan Zwartz will perform at the Uptown Jazz Café, 177 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, from 8.30pm ($15 & $12 concessions).

The main 30th Anniversary Concert — to be held on Sunday, January 27 at The Edge, Federation Square at 2pm ($30 & $20 concessions; $15 children) — will feature three trios of musicians who have been given a platform by the MJC over the years.

Paul Grabowsky

Paul Grabowsky displays his characteristic energy at Wangaratta Jazz.

New York-based pianist Barney McAll will be back in a gig featuring seven leading figures in the Melbourne contemporary jazz scene.

National Jazz Saxophone Award winner Julien Wilson  will join McAll (with whom he recorded in New York) in a trio with Sydney bassist Jonathan Zwartz.

Julien Wilson

Julien Wilson with Jonathan Zwartz at Wangaratta Jazz Festival 2012.

The MJC milestone will be fittingly marked also by two members of the dual-ARIA winning Browne-Costello-Grabowsky Trio, with which the co-operative staged its first concert exactly 30 years ago, on Sunday afternoon, January 30, 1983 at RMIT’s Glasshouse Theatre. Sadly bassist Gary Costello died in 2006, but pianist/composer Paul Grabowsky (recipient of the Melbourne Music Prize) and drummer Allan Browne will perform.

A recipient of the Don Banks Award and ‘Bell’ Australian Jazz Award Hall of Fame, Browne is also known for his compositions, poetry and delightfully irreverent sense of humour.

Allan Browne

Poetry in motion: Allan Browne plays Uptown Jazz Cafe.

Grabowsky and Browne will combine with the bassist Frank Di Sario to perform original compositions. A highlight will be a Grabowsky composition dedicated to Gary Costello.

Frank Di Sario

Frank Di Sario plays Bennetts Lane.

Browne will feature again during this celebratory concert in a third trio with two of  the many outstanding female instrumentalists on the Melbourne scene: triple ARIA winning pianist/composer Andrea Keller, and bassist/composer Tamara Murphy (leader of Murphy’s Law). They will play works from their album Carried by The Sun (Jazzhead), as well as new compositions.

Andrea Keller

Andrea Keller plays The Salon, MRC with Genevieve Lacey.

Tamara Murphy

Tamara Murphy plays Bennetts Lane Jazz Club.

Both McAll and Keller will also perform some solo piano pieces during this concert.

The MJC celebration will conclude on the evening of Sunday, January 27, with the Rabid Hawk sextet, led by guitarist Nash Lee, performing as part of the MJC’s regular Sunday night ‘A-Live Jazz’ series at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club. This  date also marks the 20th Anniversary of the MJC’s mutually beneficial collaboration with this well-respected venue.

Finally, as part of the co-op’s regular Tuesday night “Transitions” Series at Bennetts Lane, drummer Browne will perform work from Conjuror, his CD and book of poetry.



Allan Browne Quintet and Trio, Chapel Off Chapel, May 22, Stonnington Jazz 2011
Allan Browne drums, Eugene Ball trumpet, Phil Noy saxophone, Geoff Hughes guitar, Nick Haywood bass, Marc Hannaford piano

Given Allan Browne’s love of poetry and whimsical sense of humour — often displayed at Bennetts Lane on Monday evenings — I was expecting quite a bit of humour and maybe some of the stream-of-consciousness outpourings of that ilk at this gig. Instead we were treated to a trip down memory lane in quite a serious vein, with a fair amount of emotion amid the recollections, and some concise and deeply expressive verse. As well, the musical responses to Allan’s words were some of the most expressive compositions I’ve heard, though that was no surprise given the calibre and imagination of these musicians. Marc Hannaford, Eugene Ball, Geoff Hughes, Phil Noy and Al Browne were the originators of the music played in two sets that seemed to race past. Luckily, these evolving works will be recorded, and they should rank with suites such as The Drunken Boat, Une Saison En Enfer and Stu Hunter’s works The Gathering and The Muse (both of the latter to be played during this festival on Wednesday and Thursday this week).

Allan Browne

Allan Browne and Marc Hannaford

The pieces were tributes to artists Browne had played with and who had visited Australia. Marc Hannaford’s Suite for Swing Street was for pianist Teddy Wilson, who recalled for Allan the era of 42nd street and Kansas City big bands. His verse included the lines “The sound of art changing the brain, And the quip of course, It’s confectionery”.
I think the suite carried on into For Art Hodes, a late twenties pianist with whom Browne enjoyed “great kinship”. Hughes and Haywood had top solos in this. Eugene Ball’s A Short Verse for A Tall Man was for vibraphonist Milt Jackson, who AB described as “a tremendously swinging person”. After the piece he described Ball’s composition as having “an Ellington sound … lush”. Marc Hannaford’s solo stood out for me in this.

Eugene Ball, Geoff Hughes, Phil Noy

Eugene Ball, Geoff Hughes, Phil Noy

Before the break the ensemble played Firefly, Geoff Hughes’ tribute to Emily Remler, a “truly inspiring young guitarist” with whom AB said he had a similar close relationship apart from the music, but who “didn’t make it back to America”. She died at age 32 while on tour in Australia. One of her sayings was that despite her tiny frame “inside I’m a big black man”. This piece began with Hughes playing behind the words. Then came solos from Hughes, Ball, Haywood and Browne. Moving stuff.

Nick Haywood and Geoff Hughes

Nick Haywood and Geoff Hughes

After the break came Browne’s Wild Bill, for trumpet player Wild Bill Davison. AB recalled playing in the 100 Club in London when Davison came in, and launching into one of his pieces, Hysterics Rag. Davison played at the Limerick Arms in Melbourne with AB’s New Orleans band, but asked to sit in with his quartet, which was a lot different, and was happy because “normally I have to play with tubas and banjos”. Ball and Hannaford had solos in this.

Al Browne attentive to a Marc Hannaford solo

Al Browne attentive to a Marc Hannaford solo

The highlight of the night for me was Hannaford’s The Flooding, for pianist Mal Waldron. AB told of going to Sydney with bassist and close mate Gary Costello, very nervous about playing with Waldron and asking what they would be playing. “When I nod my head, just play”, was Waldron’s response, so they did — for more than an hour and then for another set after the break. “It was all completely different and a great introduction for me to playing free”, AB recalled. Marc Hannaford’s solo in this was a delight, and the following cacophony superb.

Marc Hannaford and Eugene Ball

Marc Hannaford and Eugene Ball

Phil Noy’s piece Johnny Griffin was a tribute to the tenor saxophonist AB described as “an amazing cat” and “totally happening”. He recalled playing Just Friends with Griffin, Paul Grabowsky and Gary Costello and Griffin “starting so far ahead of the beat that we ended up playing the whole thing at double time”. At the end, Griffin must have said, “Phew, that was not the tempo I expected.” AB said Griffin had influenced him tremendously and that being able to play Cherokee for 20 minutes was “handy these days when playing with (saxophonist) George Garzone“.

Allan Browne and Marc Hannaford

Allan Browne and Marc Hannaford

As soon as the applause died away to close the gig I wanted to have the band start all over so that I could hear Al Browne’s verses and again marvel at the strength of these compositions, which are so evocative and full of interest. We do have not only really talented musicians in this country, but composers overflowing with originality.

Geoff Hughes

Geoff Hughes (the red lighting was too much so I turned it off)

So that’s enough waxing lyrical. Another top Stonnington gig. Vastly different to the youthful vigour of Sarah McKenzie‘s opener, but deeply satisfying. It’s just a little sad that not more people get to hear this material, but as Allan Browne would point out, it’s available at gigs in Melbourne most nights and not only during festivals.


Marc Hannaford

Marc Hannaford ... Look Mum, one hand.