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HOME-GROWN HIGHLIGHTS APLENTY

WANGARATTA JAZZ & BLUES FESTIVAL PREVIEW — PART 2

October 28 – 31, 2011

Sandy Evans

Highlight: James Greening's 'bone frames Sandy Evans at Stonnington Jazz 2011

The line-up for Cup weekend this year at Wangaratta includes enough expatriate musicians to suggest our local performers have all jumped ship in over the years. That’s far from the truth, of course, but the festival does have the pull to entice many musicians back for a visit.

Pianist Barney McAll will travel from New York to perform with Andrea Keller in a work for two pianos, vibraphone and 16-voice choir led by Gian Slater. Then Malaysian-born bassist Linda Oh, who grew up in Perth and has since moved to New York, will bring a quartet as well as performing duets with  Slater. And pianist composer Walter Lampe will travel from Amsterdam — his home of 20 years — to perform in a trio.

Wangaratta Jazz & Blues 2011

Launched: Wangaratta Jazz & Blues festival 2011

Wangaratta also reunites overseas musicians with Australians with whom they have collaborated. So Adam Simmons (saxophones etc.) will be joined by Denis Colin (bass clarinet) from France, Benjamin Moussay on keyboards and Chander Sardjoe on drums to celebrate their collaboration as La Societe des Antipodes.

And the great and inspiring Mike Nock, whose history takes in his native New Zealand, then time in Sydney, Boston, San Francisco and New York before he settled again in Sydney, will be reunited with bassist Barre Phillips, with whom he played in New York. Their improvised duets must not be missed.

But many of the highlights at the festival will be performances from Australian artists. The Australian Art Orchestra, which was founded by Paul Grabowsky and made its debut at Wangaratta in 1994, will include local luminaries Paul Williamson and Eugene Ball on trumpets, Jordan Murray and James Greening on trombones, Ian Chaplin and Jamie Oehlers on saxophones, Grabowsky on keyboards, Geoff Hughes on guitar, Phil Rex on bass for its collaboration with visiting trombonist Josh Roseman. There is a heap of creativity in that list.

Grabowsky and Oehlers will join Dave Beck on drums for a wholly improvised trio outing that will knock our socks off for its originality and ability to take us on a journey that is cohesive, developmental and has never a dull moment. That’s what they did at “Wang” in 2008 and I’d expect no less this time.

Saxophonist composer Sandy Evans, who inspired a rapturous review from Ausjazz blog for her sextet’s recent album When the sky cries rainbows, will add Phil Slater on trumpet, James Greening on ‘bone and Alister Spence on piano to her trio with Brett Hirst (bass) and Toby Hall (drums) to play the  recorded suite live. Don’t miss it.

And for the first time at Wangaratta, Evans and Grabowsky will perform as a duo, something they have often talked about but never achieved.

Another first-time duo that promises to be a highlight of the festival will be Brisbane saxophonist Elliott Dalgleish in a twosome with Melbourne drumming great Allan Browne. Bring it on.

James Muller — one of John Scofield‘s favourite guitarists — will play with his trio (Alex Boneham on bass and Ben Vanderwal on drums) as well as featuring in a trio with Thirsty Merc bassist Phil Stack and Tim Firth on drums. Thirsty Merc has a gig at Mulwala on the Saturday, so Adrian Jackson made the most of that to invite Stack to visit Wangaratta.

Paul Williamson’s Hammond Combo will play a concert with brilliant Hammond B3 organist Tim Neal and drummer Mike Jordan.

Trumpeter Paul Williamson‘s Inside Out will feature Marc Hannaford on piano, Sam Zerna on double bass and James McLean on drums.

For something a little off the beaten track, definitely make sure you catch Perth’s Memory of Elements, with Oehlers on tenor, Carl Mackey on alto, Tom O’Halloran on piano, Simon Jeans on guitar, Pete Jeavons on bass and Ben Vanderwal on drums.

Other home-grown highlights will include the Sydney powerhouse Mike Isaacs Resurgence Band (with Muller on guitar, Matt Keegan on reeds, Hirst on bass and Firth on drums), the Daniel Gassin Sextet (see Ausjazz blog’s review of its eponymous album), the David Rex Quartet (with Rex on alto, brother Phillip on bass, Grabowsky on piano and Craig Simon on drums), the warm and wonderful Howard Cairns Quintet (with Ball on trumpet, Don Jordan on ‘bone, Adam Simmons on sax and Mike Jordan on drums) and the swinging New Sheiks (with bassist Leigh Barker, Eamon McNelis on trumpet, Don Stewart on trombone, Matt Boden on piano and Alistair McGrath-Kerr on drums, and vocals by Heather Stewart).

And then there’s  the National Jazz Awards, with all those talented Australian drummers. (See Extempore’s interviews with the finalists by Miriam Zolin.)

If you’ve made it this far, you probably need to rest before booking your ticket to the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival for 2011.

ROGER MITCHELL

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TIME TO BONE UP ON WANGARATTA JAZZ 2011

PREVIEW

Wangaratta Jazz & Blues 2011

Launched: Wangaratta Jazz & Blues festival 2011

Well, Wangaratta Jazz & Blues is being launched tonight in Wangaratta, but Ausjazz can bring you the bones of the program as artistic director Adrian Jackson is telling the event’s home town denizens what’s in store.

As predicted by Ausjazz blog, American trombonist Josh Roseman is the headline international artist, performing in two concerts with New York band members Australian expatriate pianist Barney McAll, drummer Ted Poor and multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum on tenor sax, keyboard and percussion. The Josh Roseman Unit has explored “progressive funk, electro and jazz”, and the composer has been described as having “vision” and someone who “plays ideas”.

At a media briefing, Jackson revealed that Australian pianist, composer and festival director Paul Grabowsky heard Roseman in New York last year and said he’d like to do something with the young trombonist/composer and the Australian Art Orchestra. That will happen, with Roseman bringing some of his compositions for a 14-piece AAO to explore.

Leak on Josh Roseman

Breaking news: How Ausjazz spilled the beans in the first Wangileak.

As well, Barney McAll will unveil a new suite in a premiere performance with two pianos (B. McAll and Andrea Keller), vibraphone and a 16-voice choir led by Gian Slater, who Melburnians will recall for her brilliant commission concert at BMW Edge for the Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival. This should be a real highlight.

Apfelbaum will also perform a solo piano concert.

Ready to duo: Linda Oh will team with Gian Slater

Keeping the expatriate spirit going, Malaysian-born bassist Linda Oh, who grew up in Perth and has since moved to New York, will bring a quartet to Wangaratta to celebrate the launch of her second album. Her line-up has Fabian Almazan on piano, but differs from that on the album, with Sam Sadigursky on tenor sax and Kendrick Scott on drums. Linda Oh featured in April’s DownBeat magazine.

Another expatriate, pianist composer Walter Lampe, will travel from Amsterdam — his home of 20 years — to perform in a trio. I believe Lampe was in Sydney early this year, playing at 505 with Sydney bassist Jonathan Zwartz and former Melburnian, drummer Danny Fischer, but the line-up for Wangaratta will be Zwartz and James Hauptmann on drums.

Linda Oh & Gian Slater

Bright idea: Gian Slater joins Linda Oh in the duet at Bennetts Lane.

In a demonstration of just how good Adrian Jackson is at picking up on interesting new combinations, Oh will perform with Gian Slater in a concert of duets for bass and vocals. Jackson had the idea when he heard them together at Bennetts Lane during a recent concert with another expatriate, saxophonist Jacam Manricks.

Cuban pianist Almazan, now living in America, has toured the US, South America, Asia and Europe with Terence Blanchard and will come to Wangaratta direct from the release of his first album at the Village Vanguard. Almazan will play with Linda Oh on bass and Rodney Kendrick on drums.

Denis Colin (bass clarinet) from France and Adam Simmons (saxophones etc.) from Australia will join Benjamin Moussay on keyboards and Chander Sardjoe on drums to celebrate their collaboration as La Societe des Antipodes.

Headline artist for the blues marquee will be American singer/guitarist Jimmy D Lane, son of Chicago blues great Jimmy Rogers (it’s a stage name). Adrian Jackson said Jimmy D., who grew up with Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf as regular guests in his house, and listening to Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, is making his first visit to Australia.

Others on the blues stage will include the consistently and quietly brilliant Collard Greens & Gravy, Jim Conway’s Big Wheel and Blue Heat. But a blues gig bound to be a huge hit will be saxophonist Paul Williamson’s Hammond Blues Revue, in which Williamson’s usual Hammond Combo line-up will be joined by guests Chris Wilson, Shannon Bourne, vocalist Ella Thompson (who sang at Wangaratta when she was 15) and James Black. Thompson has emerged through the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society’s Youth in Blues program, which helps young artists.

Luckily for anyone who has heard Paul Williamson’s Hammond Combo at Stonnington Jazz (or the Rainbow Hotel), with brilliant Hammond B3 organist Tim Neal and drummer Mike Jordan, the combo will also play a concert in the jazz program. Don’t confuse this with trumpeter Paul Williamson‘s Inside Out (with Marc Hannaford on piano, Sam Zerna on double bass and James McLean on drums), which will be very different. Both gigs are sure to be hits.

Sandy Evans

Highlight: James Greening's 'bone frames Sandy Evans at Stonnington Jazz 2011

A later post will cover other festival highlights, such as a new Sandy Evans suite and her duets with Paul Grabowsky, what Allan Browne will get up to with Elliott Dalgleish, and who’s going to judge the National Jazz Awards.

ROGER MITCHELL

STONNINGTON JAZZ 2010 — DAY 10

SARAH McKENZIE SEXTET at Chapel Off Chapel

 Sarah McKenzie Sextet
Sarah McKenzie

The first set was my last for this year’s Stonnington Jazz. A family commitment meant I had to leave before Paul Williamson and Friends, and could not make it to the Sunday gig with David Jones and Friends. I was not all that happy with my photographic efforts for this “last” gig. I was probably already switching out of festival mode and into family mode for my dad’s 90th birthday bash next day.

 Sarah McKenzie Sextet
Sarah McKenzie Sextet

The sextet line-up was Sarah McKenzie on piano and vocals, Pat Thiele on trumpet, Carlo Barbaro on tenor sax, Hugh Stuckey on guitar, Sam Anning on bass and Craig Simon on drums.

 Sarah McKenzie Sextet
Hugh Stuckey and Sam Anning

 Sarah McKenzie Sextet
Pat Thiele

 Sarah McKenzie Sextet
Hugh Stuckey and Carlo Barbaro

They played McKenzie originals Blues for Monty, Don’t tempt me and I got the blues tonight, as well as Cole Porter’s You’d be so nice to come home to, Sammy Fain’s That old feeling, and Duke Ellington’s Solitude.

 Sarah McKenzie Sextet
Sarah McKenzie

McKenzie graduated from WAAPA with a Bachelor of Jazz (Composition) and has won a string of awards — the Jack Bendat Scholarship, the Hawaiian Award for “Most Outstanding Jazz Graduate”, the Perth Jazz Societies Award for the “Most Outstanding Group of the Year for 2008” and the 2009 James Morrison Scholarship for vocals (after being a finalist in the scholarship for six years).

 Sarah McKenzie Sextet
Pat Thiele and Sarah McKenzie

As I’ve said previously, vocals are not my first preference when it comes to improvised music, but I regard each vocalist I hear as an opportunity to be educated. So what can I say about McKenzie’s performance? I think it is a big plus that her renditions of her original pieces had the same feel as the Cole Porter and Ellington classics, because the heritage of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday do seem important to this 22-year-old singer. Close your eyes and listen to McKenzie and it could be a much older woman singing, there is such power, depth and maturity in the voice. There is also warmth and conviction — when McKenzie sings “You’d be so nice to come home to”, she sings as if she has someone in mind. You know it’s not you, but you wish, in that moment, that it could be. That is a sign of how well the singer is projecting the feeling. And clearly McKenzie, as was evident when she sang In My Solitude, is not scared of emotion. She seems to be quite an open person, at least in her stage persona, and that is engaging.

 Sarah McKenzie Sextet
Sarah McKenzie

McKenzie’s style of piano is expressive but forceful and that goes well with the hard-driving energy of the sextet. This is robust jazz and it will appeal to audiences who like strong grooves and a swingin’ vibe. McKenzie has the appeal — often people make a point of saying that she has the talent to match her looks — to be an ambassador for jazz. But should that burden be placed on a young musician who simply loves to perform?

 Sarah McKenzie Sextet
New York Bound: Sam Anning

McKenzie announced after her first song that Sam Anning — who was not playing at quite all the Stonnington Jazz concerts — has won a full scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music in New York, NY. Congratulations to Sam. His departure will leave a huge gap in Melbourne and many bands will miss him. The Sarah McKenzie Sextet will be one of those.

 Sarah McKenzie Sextet
Sarah McKenzie