Tag Archives: Geoff Bull

MUSICIANS WHO MOVE

Gerald Clayton

Gerald Clayton                          Picture: Ben Wolf

Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival, November 1-4, 2013

This preview covers a lot of ground, with the aim of letting people know what is on offer. The joy of a festival such as Wangaratta is that patrons can take risks and dip into unfamiliar territory.

JAZZ PROGRAM PREVIEW

Music moves us, musicians move us and musicians move. So many times when we read the biographies of favourite musicians, we find they have made leaps to new places and new music communities — sometimes returning home eventually, sometimes not.

On a recent Sunday night at Melbourne’s Uptown Jazz Café, pianist Marc Hannaford played two sets at a farewell gig before leaving for at least five years in New York. He invited musician friends and colleagues to sit in. It was a great way to celebrate a big move in his life and career.

This year’s Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues brings us many artists who have made significant moves to new places as their music developed.

As in previous years, many of the musicians are expatriate Australians. The line-up, carefully crafted by artistic director Adrian Jackson, raises the (admittedly immaterial) question of how long a local musician has to be living overseas before being classified as an international artist.

In a year when piano is the chosen instrument for the National Jazz Awards, it is fitting that the headline artist will be thrice Grammy-nominated young US pianist Gerald Clayton, who has attracted attention as a rising star in a trio with Joe Sanders on bass and Justin Brown on drums. On this visit Pete Van Nostrand  will be at the drum kit.

Clayton was born in Amsterdam, grew up in Los Angeles and now lives in New York. His trio’s third album, Life Forum, was due for release in Australia by Universal on September 2.

Clayton will spend some time working with Monash University music students before the festival, so a few students could well end up with the trio on stage for one concert. Here is a sample.

Chris McNulty

Chris McNulty      (Picture supplied)

Among the expatriate internationals making the trip to Wangaratta will be vocalist Chris McNulty, who has been based in New York since 1988, and this year won Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album for The Song That Sings You Here.

McNulty, who was in Melbourne for the Jazz Bell Awards, will perform with her partner, guitarist/composer Paul Bollenback, and bassist Ugonna Okegwo, both from New York, in The Magic Trio, a drumless collaboration they have shared since 2000. Bollenback will also lead a trio with Okegwo and Perth-based drummer Daniel Susnjar, who played with Paul when he was in the USA last year.

McNulty will also re-establish a link from her early days in a band with pianist/composer Paul Grabowsky, joined by Frank Di Sario on bass and Mike Jordan on drums.

Expatriate international Barney McAll is no stranger to Wangaratta. In 2011 he brought a choir and large ensemble to the festival stage for Graft, but this year he will appear solo and in a trio.

In what promises to be real treat, McAll will take to the Holy Trinity Cathedral stage to explore some of the gospel music he regularly performs on Sundays at a church in Brooklyn. Anyone who heard McAll’s three solo pieces during the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative 30th Anniversary Concert on January 27 this year at The Edge, Federation Square, will look forward to hearing more.

McAll, who described the Wangaratta festival as “the bohemian grove of Australian jazz”, told organisers he would be playing some spirituals and new solo pieces, including a preview “of my first solo piano recording, which will be called Every Piano Needs A House In It”.

Joining McAll in his Non-Compliance Trio will be friends Jonathan Zwartz on bass and Hamish Stuart on drums.

Another Australian export, guitarist/composer Peter O’Mara left Sydney for New York in 1981, moved to Munich the following year and has lived in Germany and, more recently, Austria for 30 years. Last at Wangaratta in 2002, O’Mara will lead his quartet from Vienna in what Jackson describes as music “on the jazz side of jazz-rock fusion, very electronic, funky and pretty exciting”. Expect a mix of what O’Mara describes as “modern jazz, odd-metre fusion and groove”, in which expat American Tim Collins on vibes shares melodies with the guitar. Here is a sample.

More of the European input so vital to any festival will come from Dutch trumpet player Eric Vloeimans, who uses an electronic attachment on his instrument and, with his quartet Gatecrash, will also bring a fusion and funk emphasis. Expect a range from jazz to world, electro-funk and “contemplative soundscapes that are punctuated by a touch of wackiness”.

Jef Neve

Jef Neve

Belgian pianist Jef Neve was most recently at Wangaratta in 2010 with his trio (see Ausjazz’s rave review), but this time will play solo piano as part of a world tour. Neve regards the piano as an orchestral instrument — “Everything is present: choir, strings, woodwinds, brass and, of course, percussion” — and says the “soul and sound of the instrument” is his main source of inspiration in his classically influenced playing.

Froy Aagre

Froy Aagre         (Picture supplied)

Norwegian saxophonist Froy Aagre performed at Wangaratta in 2009 with members of the Brisbane band Misinterprotato, now known as Trichotomy, who she met at Canada’s Banff Jazz Workshop in 2005. Sean Foran (electric piano) and John Parker (drums) from Trichotomy will join Aagre to present her new electric repertoire, which she says “fuses new electronic sounds into melodic, groove-based jazz” and is “a way to communicate joy to the audience”.

AUSTRALIAN ARTISTS

That pretty much covers the FIFO (fly in fly out) jazz and improvised music performers, but the line-up of Australians at Wangaratta this year is so extensive and exciting that it is arguable they could carry the festival.

Sydney pianist and composer Mike Nock will join reedsman Julien Wilson, whose playing recently has been outstanding, and guitarist Steve Magnusson will re-visit the trio that was so successful in May at Stonnington Jazz.

Barney McAll’s presence will enable two CD launches. Bassist Jonathan Zwartz will bring his nine-piece band together for the first time since the recording of The Remembering and Forgetting of the Air, which features McAll, Magnusson, Phil Slater on trumpet, Wilson on tenor, James Greening on trombone and sousaphone, Richard Maegraith on tenor and bass clarinet, Hamish Stuart on drums and Fabian Hevia on percussion. With this material and this line-up, no one should miss this.

McAll will also join Zwartz, Allan Browne on drums and Wilson — Julien recording for the first time in a classic tenor sax quartet — to launch their album of mostly standards, mostly ballads entitled This Is Always.

Julien Wilson, Sam Anning, Allan Browne

Julien Wilson, Sam Anning, Allan Browne

In another launch not to be missed (I know this because there was a recent preview at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club), expatriate bassist Sam Anning will join Wilson and Browne to celebrate Sweethearts, an absolutely entrancing album that serendipitously was recorded when Anning, over from New York, was delayed in Melbourne by a US visa problem, for which we all should be eternally grateful.

Expat drummer Raj Jayaweera, also be back from New York for the festival, will form the house band with Anning for the National Jazz Awards piano recitals.

The plethora of Australian jazz musicians in New York will be further depleted by the departure to Wangaratta of trombonist Shannon Barnett, who will reconvene her quartet — Nash Lee guitar, Chris Hale bass guitar and Hugh Harvey drums — and also launch a new band, U.nlock, with vocalist Gian Slater, Sam Anning and Raj Jayaweera with material the four worked on in New York recently. A key feature of U.nlock will be “voice and trombone sharing both the lead and accompanying roles”, Slater says.

Barnett will also perform as part of clarinettist and vocalist Barry Wratten’s New Orleans Pelicans with Michael McQuaid on trumpet and reeds, Steve Grant on piano, John Scurry on guitar and banjo, Howard Cairns or Leigh Barker (Saturday morning) on bass and Lynn Wallis on drums.

The much-missed trombonist will also assemble Dixie Jack, a local version of Ragstretch, a band with whom she has played in Denmark consisting of Copenhagen-based expat clarinet player and vocalist Chris Tanner, known for his classic jazz work with Julien Wilson in the band Virus, and guitarist Craig Fermanis, Sam Anning and Raj Jayaweera. Dixie Jack, consisting of Barnett, Wilson, Anning and Jayaweera, will play traditional jazz.

Classic jazz is well represented this year. Melbourne band the Sugarfoot Ramblers is led by Travis Woods on trumpet, with Jason Downes on reeds and graduates or current students of the jazz course at Monash University who share a fondness for New Orleans Jazz. Others in the line-up are James Macaulay trombone, Brett Thompson banjo and guitar, Marty Holoubek bass and Daniel Berry drums. From Sydney, The Cope Street Parade and The Finer Cuts, who have recorded with experienced trumpeter Geoff Bull, will also add their traditional jazz sounds. Allan Browne will join the Finer Cuts, who usually don’t perform with a drummer, for one session.

The Wangaratta festival always draws musicians from across the country, providing a relatively rare opportunity for them to share the stage. The exciting sextet led by Melbourne’s Paul Grabowsky will feature Jamie Oehlers from Perth on tenor and Sydney musicians James Greening on trombone, Andrew Robson on alto, Cameron Undy on bass and Simon Barker on drums. This band has recorded an album it hopes to release at the festival.

Satsuki Odamara

Satsuki Odamura, Paul Williamson and Peter Knight.

Another certain hit, Peter Knight’s band Way Out West, now features Sydney-based koto player, Satsuki Odamura, along with Melburnians Lucas Michailidis on guitar and Hugh Harvey on drums as well as founding members, Peter Knight on trumpet, flugelhorn, Paul Williamson on saxophones, Howard Cairns on bass and Ray Pereira on percussion.

And Melbourne vocalist Gian Slater will team with Perth saxophonist Jamie Oehlers and Melburnians Paul Grabowsky on piano, Ben Robertson on bass and Dave Beck on drums in The Differences to play material from the album of that name.

Two concerts enjoyed by patrons of Stonnington Jazz in May will also be on the Wangaratta program. Red Fish Blue is an alliance of two musicians from Melbourne, pianist Sam Keevers and percussionist Javier Fredes, with two from Sydney, bassist Brett Hirst and drummer Simon Barker. And vocalist Josh Kyle and Keevers will perform Songs of Friends, which are their interpretations of songs by Australian singers/composers.

The Cup Eve Concert will feature Joe Chindamo with his trio and Monique Di Mattina performing music from her recent album Nola’s Ark, which is a jazz blues hybrid.

AUSJAZZ RECOMMENDATIONS

This preview covers a lot of ground, with the aim of letting people know what is on offer. The joy of a festival such as Wangaratta is that patrons can take risks and dip into unfamiliar territory.

In case it helps, the following are the concerts that I’d be keen not to miss:

  • Barney McAll’s solo piano in Holy Trinity on Sunday, November 3 at 3pm
  • Jef Neve solo piano, WPAC Theatre, Sunday, Nov 3 at 1pm
  • Launch of Jonathan Zwartz album The Remembering and Forgetting of the Air, Friday, Nov 1, WPAC Theatre
  • Launch of McAll/Wilson/Zwartz/Browne album This Is Always, WPAC Memorial Hall, Saturday, Nov 2 at 2.30pm
  • Launch of Wilson/Anning/Browne album Sweethearts, WPAC Memorial Hall, Saturday, November 2 at 4.30pm
  • Barnett and Slater’s U.nlock, WPAC Memorial Hall, Sunday, Nov 3 at 2.30pm
  • Paul Grabowsky Sextet, WPAC Theatre, Sunday, Nov 3 at 10.30pm
  • Way Out West, WPAC Theatre, Saturday, Nov 2, 11am

ROGER MITCHELL

Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues

 

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THE NEW SHEIKS TAKE A SWING AT THE FINER CUTS

The New Sheiks meet the Finer Cuts

The New Sheiks meet the Finer Cuts

GIG PREVIEW:

Double bill — Leigh Barker and the New Sheiks with Geoff Bull and the Finer Cuts
Sydney: 505, 280 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, Thursday, December 6 at 8.30pm, $20 ($15)
Melbourne: The Flying Saucer Club 4 St Georges Rd, Elsternwick, on December 16, 3pm until 6pm, $29 table bookings, $22 standing room bookings, $25 at the door

Ausjazz Blog puts some questions to two protagonists in the coming contest for hottest young band playing music that swings:

The traditional sparring between Sydney and Melbourne will play out in two gigs this month as two bands battle it out for honours in a contest to get audiences up dancing.

Melbourne’s Leigh Barker and the New Sheiks will play off against Sydney’s Geoff Bull and the Finer Cuts in friendly rivalry for honours in their renditions of Delta blues tunes, New Orleans classics or just about anything that swings.

The New Sheiks and Finer Cuts are young musicians who love delving into the lexicon of traditional jazz and delivering it with love, passion and often a new approach.

Music is not all that’s on offer. Patrons are invited to “dance your arse off” first at 505 in Sydney and 10 days later at The Flying Saucer Club in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick. The southern gig will include presentations by world champion swing dancer Ramona Staffeld, tap king Grant Swift and vintage jazz dancers The Uptown Strutters.

There will be separate sets, but New Sheiks band leader Barker says by the end of each concert both bands will be on stage together — sporting two basses, maybe two pianos, two trumpets, two trombones, a sax, guitar, fiddle and vocals — leaving the audiences to decide whether Sydney or Melbourne wins.

Barker says the idea of the double bill arose after the Sheiks played two concerts with the Cope Street Parade, which shares Finer Cuts band members Justin Fermino, Grant Arthur and Ben Panucci.

“We had an excellent gig at Camelot in Sydney where they have two stages and we did a proper battle, tune for tune — sometimes at the same time. We definitely won,” Barker says.

A New Sheiks show can include deep dark Delta blues, a New Orleans classic, or just a 21st century take on anything from the great jazz canon. The band comprises award-winning vocalist and violinist Heather Stewart, Eamon McNelis and Don Stewart on horns, Steve Grant on piano, Barker on double bass and Sam Young on the drums.

Geoff Bull formed his first New Orleans style band, the “Olympia” Jazz Band in the very early 1960s when he was 20. Now, 50 years on, Geoff (on trumpet and vocals) has joined young musicians — Justin Fermino reeds and vocals, Grant Arthur trombone and vocals, Harry Sutherland piano, Ben Panucci on guitar, tenor banjo and vocals, and Sam Dobson on double bass and vocals — to keep the tradition alive and give it a breath of fresh air.

Playing traditional tunes and originals, Bull and the Finer Cuts have two highly successful Sydney residencies a week and cut their first album early this year.

Leigh Barker and Ben Panucci took time out from their music to improvise some responses to questions from Ausjazz blog. Here they are, slightly mixed and remastered:

Ausjazz: The New Sheiks do a wide range of material. Is that true of The Cuts?

Barker: Not sure what material the Cuts will be be playing, but I’m sure it will be swinging its tits off (slightly less than us of course). They write their own songs, like us, and mix it with classic jazz repertoire from all eras.

Panucci: Lately the band has been experimenting with rapping from our bass player/MC (no joke)

Ausjazz: Usually traditional forms of jazz are played by older musicians (though of course they were young once). Is that changing? Is there a wish to hand on the baton or bring this music to younger audiences?

Barker: I would love to play this music to “younger audiences”, but frankly anyone and everyone should buy tickets. I don’t really believe in dividing up audiences into demographics. The venues end up doing that for you — we played at a big rock festival (Harvest) a few weeks ago and it was hard to know exactly what they made of us! The next week I was at the Phillip Island Jazz Festival, which was pretty much the total opposite in audience age.

Panucci: There have always been young people involved in the music and there always will be. Whether younger audiences decide to listen will depend on trends as well as how well we as musicians can market ourselves and use technology etc in our favour.

Ausjazz: Is there a future for more traditional jazz/improvised music? Will audiences warm to it?

Barker: They already do, and have, and always will. Swing and blues is always primarily an optimistic and inclusive music. It makes everyone in the room participants. The more the band is swinging, the less it feels like ‘here’s the band, and there’s the audience’. There is a future for this way of playing as long as we play it right… get to the right feeling, which gets people moving in their seats…. and dancing of course… then you can throw in a cerebral ballad to give them a bit of a rest!

Panucci: I feel that audiences are warming to it. Something that considerably changes people’s experience of music, I believe, is the context within which it is heard. If the music can be played in places that already attract discerning people, the music will speak for itself.

Ausjazz: When the Red Onions had a reunion a few years back there were long queues. Are your two bands following that tradition or do you see it as being quite different?

Barker: We all are influenced by the Red Onions, and there are many groups between them and us for instance The Hoodangers, George Washingmachine, Graeme Bell, the Shuffle Club, C.W. Stoneking. Australia has a long and rich history of swing and blues music. We don’t really play that sort of style, as they were striving — I think. Have to ask Al Browne! — for a very authentic New Orleans sound. The New Sheiks are far more eclectic and likely to play something from pretty much any period in jazz, including right now, or even older than jazz. We do some 19th century American folk tunes and songs I wrote last week.

Panucci: Our queues will be longer, our audiences will be younger and more attractive.

Ausjazz: Both these bands seem to pay attention to how they dress, at least in the publicity material. I’m not saying other jazz musicians are sloppy, but, well, they are more casual. Is this just PR or an important part of playing this sort of material?

Barker: One should always dress as good as one can. Or as good as you want to. I think Monk said something like that? There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that when you see a well dressed band you think ‘shit they look good’. Even though of course it makes no difference to the ‘sound’ of the band – it does make a huge difference to the social experience. Makes it feel like more of an event. I started dressing better when I saw ‘The Godfather’ series all the way through a few years back. Those guys look dangerous (in a good way).

Panucci: It obviously makes no difference to how you play, but it does help improve the atmosphere of a venue, which in turn improves the impact the music has. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with looking good.

Ausjazz: What about instrumentation? We don’t hear so much clarinet these days, yet I would love to hear more. In putting these bands together, was it about who was keen and available, or also about what instruments they could bring to the bands?

Barker: I can’t afford a reeds player, but sometimes we get to that feeling by having the fiddle, trumpet and trombone out front. I think in the future we will definitely do some shows and/or recordings as a seven-piece, and clarinet would definitely be up there as a first choice.

Panucci: It was about people who were keen, swinging, friends and interested in playing the music with respect for all of its stylistic idiosyncrasies.

Ausjazz: How do younger audiences react? Do they get up and dance? Can young people dance in the way that folk used to back in the days when dance halls and swing bands were where people went for entertainment?

Panucci: From my experience, if there’s space to dance and the band is swinging, everyone loves to dance in their own way. I’m sure if we played in a daggy RSL young people wouldn’t consider it, but within the context of a hip bar where everyone has had a few drinks dancing ensues. And yes, there are groups of dancers who are young and into keeping the dance style alive.

Barker: Oh yeah people dance. If we’re playing it right. Ultimate test. When people start moving, then you know, ‘we’re doing it right’. Happened a bit at the rock festival. But they won’t dance really well in those vintage styles unless they’ve taken classes. It’s a great thing, that people are studying those styles and coming to gigs, because it is a huge part of the music. But it’s like anything — you have to practise it to be good, so you can’t really compare it with a teenager from the ’30s who probably went dancing every night.

Ausjazz: The lyrics of some songs may not be PC. For example, “Closer to the Bone” arguably talks about slim women as meat. Are these songs just fun and not meant to be taken seriously, or are they likely to get a cool reception from audiences who are conscious of misogyny and women asserting their rights not be sex objects? I found a dancer’s blog which made reference to this song.

Barker: A lot of the lyrics are very, very dirty. That example you cited is probably medium-high on the filth-o-meter. There are things that Jelly Roll Morton sang in the ’20s that would make rappers blush. But I think most of the time people aren’t listening to the words at all, they’re just ‘pitched mouth noises’. Albert Murray argues that lyrics in blues are secondary to the timbre and feeling being sung, and that the blues singers deliberately obscured the lyrics with slang and strong accents to de-emphasise them. Some people get a good giggle out of them though.

[Panucci preferred not to comment on this without a chance to discuss it with the band.]

Ausjazz: How does each group choose material? Is it mostly old songs, old ones re-worked or new ones in the style of Delta blues or New Orleans songs?

Barker: I pick songs that are a little left of centre and that are structurally interesting. And things that Heather Stewart wants to sing. That’s why I started writing my own because then you don’t have to go looking for something if you want a certain tempo or vibe — you just write the tune how you want it!

Panucci: Geoff generally brings in most of the standard repertoire we play and some of us also write original music or teach the band a song we’ve heard that we would like to sing/play. We also try to keep track of songs that are particularly well received.

Ausjazz: What is the appeal of this music for young members of the two bands? Is it more fun to play? Is it an escape from the cool modern jazz that does not necessarily swing, or set toes tapping or get people up dancing? Has jazz gone too far towards serious stuff that people may have to work at before they can appreciate?

Panucci: It is fun. There is a genuine rapport that can be felt between the band and the audience and, yes, it isn’t too serious (in relation to more modern jazz styles). Most of us play many styles of music from modern jazz through to soul, hip hop, bluegrass and rock. This is just one of the many delicious fruits to be savoured on the tree of music.

Barker: This is the big scary controversial question. I feel more and more that when a musician gets up in the morning, they should be thinking, “What sort of music do I absolutely have to play no matter what because my soul would wither if I didn’t?” and then do that sort of music at 110 per cent all the time. Why waste precious time and resources on music you’re only half hearted about? So whatever you’re in to — do it with as much love and passion as possible.

So it’s not an ‘escape’ from other ways of playing, just shouting to the world, “This is what rocks my world, check it out”.

‘Cool’ is an interesting choice of words, because allegedly Lester Young invented it, but I think the best jazz is when its ‘hot’ (regardless of style). Cool has a lot to answer for…

Ausjazz: I may have misused “cool”. Dispassionate perhaps, but that does not capture it. Kind of like the difference between a party and a really engrossing lecture.

No, no that’s what I meant: ‘being cool’ is still a good thing, but ‘playing cool’ I think has become problematic as an aesthetic for playing. Only in that there isn’t so much of a balance — (there’s) not enough ‘hot’ music these days!

ROGER MITCHELL

BROWNE’S BAND CONJURES BRIGHT REFLECTIONS

REVIEW: STONNINGTON JAZZ 2012
Allan Browne’s The Poetry of Classic Jazz, Chapel Off Chapel, Sunday May 20

The Poetry of Classic Jazz

The Poetry of Classic Jazz

It was so upbeat that I’m sure we listened with smiles on our faces or deep inside. Yet this exploration of New Orleans-style jazz and drummer Allan Browne’s passion for poetry began with a blues that expressed loss and deep sorrow. As a tribute to “a deep and longtime friend of mine”, drummer Peter Jones, Browne decided to open the gig with W.H. Auden’s Stop All the Clocks, alternatively known as Funeral Blues. The Crowded House drummer died on May 18, aged 45.

It was powerful poetry, delivered with feeling. It did not dampen the spirits of either audience or the band.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

Geoff Bull

Geoff Bull

With Browne to celebrate word and note at Chapel Off Chapel was Sydney trumpeter and vocalist Geoff Bull, Dave Hetherington on clarinet, Margie Lou Dyer on piano and vocals and Mark Elton on bass.

The serious mood continued, with Browne reading a James Langston Hughes poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers, which the drummer said “makes me cry”.

Again, it was moving, and Bull treated us to some rich wah wah in the accompanying music.

Geoff Bull

Geoff Bull

Then, lest solemnity become the rule, we were treated to a preview of Browne’s yet-to-be-launched volume of poems, Conjuror (published by extempore), with the reading of He’s Not Much, But He’s All He Thinks About.

Mark Elton

Mark Elton

And then, with the promise of no more poems until the second set, the mood hotted up, with the James Scott tune Climax Rag, made famous on Blue Note in the 1940s by George Lewis and His New Orleans Stompers. Racy, energetic stuff.

Geoff Bull

Geoff Bull

Next came Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor, with fine vocal work from Bull and a piano solo from Dyer, and nice jousting from clarinet (what a joy it is to hear this instrument) and horn. Down By the Riverside followed, then Don’t Go ‘way Nobody, which was heaps of fun, with Browne having a shot at vocals, some quicksilver-fluid clarinet and a great bass solo, and finally Bourbon Street Parade to end the set.

Hetherington and Bull

Dave Hetherington and Geoff Bull

Poetry began the second set, with Green Room recalling Browne’s “old days when you could actually make a living” playing at The Regent, when, he recalled, “you could put on a suit”, go downstairs and “you wouldn’t know you were in Melbourne — you could have been in Hong Kong or New York”.

Allan Browne

Allan Browne

I think it was about now that Browne unearthed a wasps’ nest, because there was quite a bit of buzzing going on. It was a hoot.

Allan Browne

Allan Browne

Another change of pace had Browne reading the Frank O’Hara poem for Billie Holiday, The Day Lady Died. He drew our attention to the last line.

… and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Mark Elton

Mark Elton

Geoff Bull treated us to some more vocals in Just Over in the Glory Land, and there was some lovely interplay between horn and clarinet.

Hetherington, Elton, Bull

Hetherington, Elton, Bull

This was a happy, exuberant rendition.

Hetherington, Elton, Bull

Hetherington, Elton, Bull

Then we had a couple of numbers featuring Dyer’s smoky vocals — Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do, and My Old Bucket’s Got A Hole In It.

Browne, Dyer, Elton

Browne, Dyer, Elton

It was great to look across to the partnership of Browne and Dyer in action here, and to feel the rollicking, friendly and fun vibe coming from this ensemble as they captured the spirit of New Orleans jazz.

Browne, Dyer

Browne, Dyer

Announcing Panama Rag to close the gig, Al Browne said the piece was “synonymous with all this music”.

I reckon we were still smiling on the inside as we went outside, and that must have something to do with this style of jazz. But we were also, through the poetry, given the chance — or gently prodded — to reflect a little on life, and on friendship and loss.

ROGER MITCHELL