Tag Archives: Graham Wood

THE END BEGINS, AN ENCORE ENDS

Kneebody

Kneebody at The Forum: Ben Wendel sax, Nate Wood drums, Kaveh Rastegar bass, Shane Endsley trumpet and Adam Benjamin Fender Rhodes.

 

MINI REVIEW

The End / Kneebody (US), The Forum Upstairs on Sunday 2 June 2013 at 7pm, Melbourne International Jazz Festival

The End

The End plus

The crowd was noticeably younger at The Forum Upstairs for this gig, and expectations were high for the genre-bending five-piece US band Kneebody, billed as combining “the depth of jazz, the swagger of hip-hop and the conviction of rock” in a “no holds barred brand of musical expression”. Well, we all know the writers of festival blurbs can get a little carried away, but the second set was likely to be exciting.

But before that we had a concert beginning with The End, playing compositions by guitarist band leader Tim Willis and with Kneebody’s Shane Endsley as a guest on trumpet. One tiny gripe I have was that MIJF artistic director Michael Tortoni — who must be fairly busy — did not introduce The End until the beginning of the second set (that’s the end of those beginning and end references BTW). It seems reasonable for any band worthy of playing at this major festival to be introduced before they play, but I’m probably old fashioned.

The End opened as if The Forum Upstairs was on fire and only the vigour of its musical output could extinguish the flames. But as the set evolved it was clear that the compositions were taking us to more interesting places than loud rock-infused vibes. After the Eugene Ball and Mark Helias compositions played at this venue earlier in the day, I was looking for variation, development and unpredictability to maintain interest as well as inspire admiration in the musicianship. Willis’s quintet plus Endsley delivered that — I found that I enjoyed each piece more as the set progressed.

Endsley’s playing certainly added significantly to the line-up, but the standout players on the night for The End were Willis, Nick Martyn on drums and Gareth Hill on bass.

Kneebody

Kneebody

Kneebody has been together for 12 years and it shows. The band’s musicianship was exemplary — in other words, they could play. Their work was tight and virtuosic. Kaveh Rastegar was engaging as spokesman.

Their compositions, many by keyboard player Adam Benjamin, included rhythmic repetition, layered landscapes of sound, psychedelia, intensely percussive periods, attacks with mounting intensity and the lush, sustained feel that the Fender Rhodes can deliver. High Noon had an energetic, pumped up Bill Frisell feel to it. They played with some clapping, fiddled with pedals on sax and trumpet feeds that enabled recording and playback on the run, and they had dry ice “smoke”.  This was pretty slick for a jazz gig, and lots of fun as well. The audience loved the set and called on an encore.

There is a tiny “but”. In the end, I felt that this talented quintet played material that did not take us on a journey quite as interesting as did the compositions tackled by The End. What was missing? Well, I suspect Kneebody was delivering exactly the music that their fans expected, but I’d like to have seen more interesting exchanges between instruments — jousting, if you like, or challenges issued and answered. It was almost as if the conversation was as expected, rather than there being a surprise or twist popping up to create electricity.

Kaveh Rastegar thanked Graham Wood, co-owner of the Ellington Jazz Club in Perth and a key figure in the recent inaugural Perth International Jazz Festival, for inviting Kneebody to Australia. We all should thank him as well.

GALLERY: Pictures from this gig

ROGER MITCHELL

ADD JOE LOVANO AND STIR

Joe Lovano

Joe Lovano will headline the first Perth International Jazz Festival.        (Image supplied)

PREVIEW: Perth International Jazz Festival, Friday 24 May to Sunday 26 May, 2013

If you’ve never heard of this festival, that’s because this is the first. Co-owner of the Ellington Jazz Club Graham Wood, who is also Program Director of Music at the WA Academy of Performing Arts, has planned the festival as an extension of the club, though PIJF is a not-for-profit incorporated association.

The festival has an illustrious artistic sub-committee comprising Jamie Oehlers (Head of Jazz at WAPA), Johannes Leubbers (President of Perth Jazz Society), Mace Francis (Musical Director WA Youth Jazz Orchestra) and Pete Jeavons (General Manager JAZZWA).

PIJF aims to become nationally and internationally acclaimed as one Australia’s best Jazz festivals within five years. The three-day festival hopes to attract 15,000 people to paid and free events. More than 40 performances will be presented over seven stages — The Perth Concert Hall, Bishop’s Gardens, Perth Cultural Centre, Brookfield Place, Weld Square, Barrack Square and The Ellington Jazz Club.

The only Jazz festival in Western Australia, PIJF is intended as a regular event in Perth’s cultural calendar and a source of long-term cultural and economic return. There will be an educational component and PIJF provides access for diverse and disadvantaged sections of the community.

The major headline act for the inaugural festival is saxophonist Joe Lovano, who has eight Grammy Award nominations (winning in 2001 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album), is signed to the famous Blue Note record label and has worked with some of the biggest names in international jazz. He will perform in a headline concert with four-time Aria Award winning vocalists Katie Noonan and Vince Jones at the Perth Concert Hall on Saturday 25 May at 7.30pm.

Lovano will open the evening with a set accompanied by Perth musicians Sam Anning (now living in New York) on bass, Ben Vanderwal on drums and Tal Cohen on piano.

Katie Noonan

Katie Noonan in concert.

Lovano collaborated with Noonan on her 2009 ARIA Award-winning release Blackbird. After a few numbers with Lovano, Noonan will perform music from her album Elixir featuring Steve Magnusson (guitar) and Zac Hurren (saxophones). Noonan will also perform duets with celebrated vocalist Vince Jones, with whom she worked on Songs of Love and War.Noonan and Jones will be backed by a trio led by pianist Matt McMahon (piano).

In a media release, PIJF Artistic Director, Associate Professor Graham Wood said, “I’m genuinely excited to hear and see such an amazing selection of musicians performing, as well as collaborating, for the Lovano/Noonan/Jones concert. To see artists of this calibre as headline acts on separate concerts would be sensational, but to combine them on the one bill headlining PIJF will provide a rare experience that promises to be extraordinary.”

Other artists on the program include the cutting edge Kneebody (USA), guitarist Gilad Hekselman (Israel/USA) and gypsy jazz from the UK guitarist Hank Marvin. Some of Perth’s favourite sons, now based overseas, who are returning to help celebrate include bassist Sam Anning, saxophonists Troy Roberts and Brandon Allen and eclectic trio ‘The Grid’ (featuring Tim Jago, Dane Alderson and Ben Vanderwal), and fusion supergroup ‘VOID’.

And of course there are many award-winning, highly acclaimed local artists such as Jamie Oehlers, Tom O’Halloran Trio, Mace Francis Orchestra, Johannes Luebbers Dectet, Russell Holmes Trio, Tal Cohen Quartet and Libby Hammer.

Good luck to the inaugural Perth International Jazz Festival!

Tickets for the headline concert ($80, concession $60) on sale now through Ticketek 1300 795 012

Perth International Jazz Festival

ROGER MITCHELL