Tag Archives: Hugh Stuckey

WHEN KEITH JARRETT COMPLAINED

Sarah McKenzie

Sarah McKenzie

REVIEW

Sarah McKenzie Quartet and Silo String Quartet, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Friday 16 August 2013

Sarah McKenzie piano, vocals; Hugh Stuckey guitar; Hugh Harvey drums; Tamara Murphy bass

Aaron Barnden violin, Andrea Keeble violin, Ceridwen Davies viola, Caerwen Martin cello

There’s a story in every gig, and in this outing it came in the second set, when we learned that we would be treated to a song dedicated to Keith Jarrett. Not because he was such an inspiration, but because — surprise, surprise — Mr Jarrett made a complaint. More on this story later.

In May 2011, patrons at the opening night of Stonnington Jazz (see Ausjazz review) heard Sarah McKenzie as entertainer, engaging and captivating the audience with her evident love of performing music she loved.

A year later, McKenzie again opened the festival (see Ausjazz review), but this time as arranger, composer and musical director of a big band, Graeme Lyall’s impressive Generations in Jazz Big Band from Mount Gambier.

A lot of water had passed under the bridge since then. In 2012 McKenzie’s second album, Close Your Eyes, received the ARIA award for Best Jazz Album and after a visit to the Umbria Jazz Festival she was invited to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, US. She made a flying visit back to Melbourne in June to be musical director in Everybody Wants to Rule the World, a concert of jazz covers, pop and rock masterpieces on the opening night of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

Sarah McKenzie Quartet, Silo String Quartet

Sarah McKenzie Quartet, Silo String Quartet

McKenzie came to Bennetts Lane with some significant firepower. Apart from her new quartet line-up with Hugh Harvey on drums and Tamara Murphy on bass, she had the considerable talent of the Silo String Quartet. McKenzie also brought arrangements for the string quartet by two of her Berklee colleagues, Saunder Choi (Philippines) and George Mathew Dylan Varner-Hartley (Canada).

McKenzie’s talent for and love of arranging was evident from the opening Bye Bye Blackbird, but first set highlights were her versions of Sting’s Fragile, the standard I Won’t Dance and, to close, Hendrix’s The Wind Cries Mary, which wowed the audience, showcased her skill on piano and demonstrated the appeal of her phrasing.

I’m far from an expert on vocals, but the full timbre, depth and power in McKenzie’s voice is often hinted at — albeit very gratifyingly — rather than given a real workout in the songs she chooses. Given edgier material I believe she could let loose and really challenge herself, with great results.

Silo String Quartet

Silo String Quartet

The Silo quartet added a smooth, rich feel to Little Girl Blue, I Remember You (arranged by Dylan Varner-Hartley) and In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning (arranged by Saunder Choi), which gave space to Mckenzie’s vocals over slow work in unison by the strings.

The night’s highlights came in the second set. There were many, but I felt the set went on a little too long, so that the sense of a slow build was lost. The final song, At Last, displayed the strength of McKenzie’s vocals, but it seemed a pity to close without the Silo String Quartet on stage.

The second last piece, Gershwin’s beautiful Embraceable You, was rendered superbly and showed excellent interaction between Stuckey’s guitar and the strings, yet perhaps could have been played earlier in the night.

Ceridwen Davies, Caerwen Martin

Ceridwen Davies, Caerwen Martin

That said, this set brought us great arrangements from Dylan Varner-Hartley (for You’ve Changed) and Tamara Murphy (for I’m Through With Love), the latter bringing a nice exchange between strings and voice. McKenzie’s treatment of Big Yellow Taxi was, as always, adept and carefully crafted.

Harvey’s drums fired up behind guitar in Come On Home to set the scene for McKenzie to show us how well she sings the blues, showing dynamic variation, power and the facility to bend notes. Nice work.

I felt it would have been good to have the Silo String Quartet let off the leash at times in this concert, but their skilful work in Little Fluffy Clouds and Falling Water, two of five pieces from their Cloud Suite, was a real highlight. How good is it to go to a jazz gig and enjoy a string quartet that can improvise so ably. 

Sarah McKenzie and Silo String Quartet

Sarah McKenzie and Silo String Quartet

But the standout for me came at the start of the second set, when McKenzie treated us to three of her original compositions. In the first, Letter to Lover, she split the audience into three and had us sing harmonies, which was a lot of fun.

Aaron Barnden, Sarah McKenzie

Aaron Barnden, Sarah McKenzie

Then came I Loves You Porgy, written a few days earlier in a beach shack on the Great Ocean Road and dedicated to Keith Jarrett, “who gave us a noise complaint at the Umbria Jazz Festival”. Apparently the “noise” from McKenzie’s band was reaching into another venue, annoying Mr Jarrett.

It was followed by an instrumental piece, There Were Three Ships, written in the Kimberley, featuring first violin Aaron Barnden with McKenzie and a lovely interlude by piano, bass and drums.

These three originals clearly showed that McKenzie could come up with an album of original material.

There is a lot to Sarah McKenzie. Yes, she is a natural entertainer who loves to play with standards and can work with a big band or string quartet. But I think the three original songs in this outing proved that the vocalist and pianist can not only extend herself with edgier, more challenging works, but also has a bright future as a songwriter.

ROGER MITCHELL

Sarah McKenzie Quartet and Silo String Quartet, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Friday 23 August, 9pm

Picture gallery: Some additional images

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LIVE MUSIC FRIDAY — DON’T GO HOME WITHOUT IT

It’s all happening in Melbs tonight, so whatever you do, don’t go home before catching some live music. To make it easy to choose, here’s some of the gigs on offer:

Collider CD launch of Words at Uptown Jazz Cafe, Friday 1 March, 2013 at 8.30pm

Kynan Robinson trombone, Adam Simmons tenor sax, Andrea Keeble violin, Jason Bunn viola, Ronny Ferella drums, Anita Hustas double bass

Collider

Collider

Here’s some background info:

Uptown is very proud to host the launch of the debut album Words from the band Collider led by trombonist Kynan Robinson.

Brass meets strings melded together with drums creating the unique force that is Australian ensemble Collider – an exploration in sound and composition that is luxuriating as it is challenging

Collider was first formed in 2006 and has developed its beautiful and unique sound over the past four years. Collider is a band which is co-lead by Adam Simmons and Kynan Robinson. Both Kynan and Adam have built great reputations for both their individual and highly sort after playing styles, featuring in many bands including Aria award winning C.W Stoneking, Ernest Ranglin, Peter Brotzmann, Odean Pope, SkaZZ, Peter Knights 5+2, The Bombay Royale etc. but also for their uncompromising and unique approach to the bands that they individually run. They are both extremely prolific leading very successful ensembles with multiple releases such as The Escalators, Adam Simmons Toy Band, Des Peres, En Rusk, The Adam Simmons Quartet and The Creative Music Ensemble.

With Collider they have joined forces to create a unique musical experience. The integration of a string
section adds a textural layer that is rarely heard in a improvising context.
Every member of the ensemble is a composer in their own right and all have contributed music to the repertoire performed by Collider. As well as short pieces each member has at some stage composed a major work for Collider.

“This was really visceral music and its effect was felt physically. The combination of instruments provided a timbre-laden treat that would gladden the heart of a Tasmanian conservationist or an Orbost logger, or both.I loved the contributions of each instrument. I loved the percussive interludes and the way Ferella intervened with such sensitivity and minimalism. There were some absolutely entrancing standout solos — Kynan Robinson digging deep into the gravel, Ronny Ferella taking the space to take us on a sublime journey of intricacy and introspection, Anita Hustas opening the final piece of the night with great presence, and Simmons on fire in slow-burn fashion that etched tenor notes into the dark room.” Roger Mitchell – ausjazz.net

Collider has had work commissioned by The Melbourne Writers Festival (Solo In Red composed by Kynan Robinson, 2012) and presented at sold out shows at the Melbourne Recital Center. In 2007 Collider premiered new work composed by Anita Hustas and Andrea Keeble at the Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival. Collider has also been presented by the La Mama Musica Series, Melbourne Jazz Coop, Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival and Lebowskis.

In 2011/12 Collider presented major new works by Kynan and Adam with a very literary focus. Kynan composed music inspired by the writings of American author Cormac McCarthy (Solo In Red) while Adam composed work based on the famous children’s book Green Eggs and Ham. This sold out concert was presented as part of 45 Downstairs 2011 program. This literary focus has been a subtle teme found in much of Colliders work.

Two sets from 8.30pm. To reserve a table please email – uptownjazzcafe@email.com

And there’s more:

Paul Van Ross Quartet CD launch, Paris Cat Jazz Club, 9.30pm , $20
Featuring original music from the new CD “The Buck Stops Here”
with: Paul Van Ross – saxophones / flute, Kim Kelaart – Hammond B3 Organ, Hugh Stuckey – guitar, Hugh Harvey – drums

And there’s more:

Great Waitress, 7pm Richmond Uniting Church, 310-314 Church Street
After many shows in Sydney, and across Europe, Great Waitress is finally coming to Melbourne!

Rosalind Hall – solo sax, Marc Hannaford – solo piano,

RCKTSRGRY: Tina Douglas – wii/laptop/visuals, Nik Kennedy – electronics, and Great Waitress: Magda Mayas – piano, Monica Brooks – accordion. Laura Altman – clarinet

And there’s more:

Lior with Gian Slater and Invenio, Spiegeltent, Melbourne, 7pm
Tickets: from $46
Lior has a long standing relationship with The Famous Spiegeltent and has always endeavoured to bring a unique approach to these shows as a reflection of the venue’s undeniable charm. This year is no exception with Lior inviting renowned Melbourne vocalist/composer Gian Slater and her vocal ensemble ‘Invenio’ to join him.
Over three highly acclaimed studio albums Lior has built a reputation as one of Australia’s finest songwriters and vocalists. Gian Slater and her ensemble are known for their imaginative arrangements and innovative vocal performances – together with Lior they will be performing a selection of Lior’s songs. A unique performance not to be missed.
http://spiegel.artscentremelbourne.com.au/2013/lior-with-gian-slater-and-invenio/

$10 entry ($8 conc.). Doors at 7pm. Music from 7:30pm

And there’s more:

Warpigs, with special guests The Naxalites, Roundtable
Tago Mago, 744 High Street Thornbury, 8pm

Like wandering lost in a field somewhere in Russia. You look up to see nothing but clouds and power-lines, and for all you’re worries you can’t seem to think of anything but Grandpa. Warpigs epic space, Warpigs meandering dissonance, Warpigs angelic and divine, Warpigs cut throat blues. Brought to you by sonic lovebirds The Naxalites and intelligent designers Roundtable. Free entry.

SAXOPHONIST WILL TAKE THE BLAME

Van Ross CD

CD LAUNCH: The Buck Stops Here, at Paris Cat Jazz Club (Goldie place, Melbourne) on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 9pm, featuring Paul Van Ross sax, Kim Kelaart Hammond B3 organ, Hugh Stuckey guitar and Hugh Harvey on drums.

Here’s one for the diary, particularly if you need an energy boost to carry you into the weekend. Why not enjoy a few Friday drinks with friends or colleagues, maybe a bite to eat, then take in this vibrant band in the comfort of Paris Cat?

On the album Mark Lockett is on drums and Craig Fermanis plays guitar on the opening track.

As the name suggests, the follow-up to to 2008’s Get Sorted is an album for which Van Ross is prepared to take responsibility, with its clear message that “the buck stops here”.

Van Ross has a special pre-launch offer on his website, with his two albums available for $30.

Here’s how the publicity material for this lively album sums it up:

The Buck Stops Here brims with the unique energy of a live performance, something that is often difficult to replicate in the studio, particularly when the program is all original compositions. By recording this album live, Paul Van Ross sought to transport listeners to that night at the Paris Cat Jazz Club in Melbourne, to experience the atmosphere of the venue, the energy and skill of the musicians, the buzz of the event and, most importantly…. the music!

A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, Paul lives in Melbourne, Australia. He studied in New York with some of the world’s leading teachers and musicians, and has toured and performed extensively in many parts the world. A talented woodwind specialist, he has performed and taught saxophone, flute and clarinet for more than 20 years.

Here’s how Van Ross describes the album: “The compositions on this album were largely inspired by an array of life experiences and influences, from family,
friends and musicians, to the many musical genres that continue to inform my playing and writing. These have combined to create a marvellous musical melting pot that is evident in the music on this album, music that should
appeal to jazz aficionados and those who enjoy the energetic buzz of live music. I hope you enjoy The Buck Stops Here.”