Tag Archives: John McAll

ALMOST TOGETHER AGAIN

Barney & John McAll

The McAlls: Barney and John   (Image at right supplied)

DOUBLE PREVIEW

Monash Art Ensemble CD launch: Barney McAll’s Zephryix, 7.30pm Thursday, April 19, Bird’s Basement, Tickets from $29 + booking fee

John McAll’s Black Money launches new album, Secular, 5pm Sunday, April 22, Bird’s Basement, Tickets from $27 + booking fee

You don’t often catch the brothers McAll together on stage, but this week they are coming close to that congruence — performing in the same venue only days apart.

The first — and possibly the only time — these polished and passionate performers appeared together was during the Stonnington Jazz festival on May 23, 2012 at Chapel Off Chapel.

The creativity of these siblings is always evident, although Barney’s flamboyance and energy contrasts with the elder McAll’s distinguished and more reserved presence. Both are capable of splendiferous feats on piano.

Grammy nominated Barney McAll has played on over 100 recordings and has released 13 highly acclaimed solo albums. In Thursday’s concert he joins the critically acclaimed Monash Art Ensemble to perform his six-part suite, Zephyrix.

Barney was commissioned by the Monash Art Ensemble to compose this piece during his residency at the Peggy Glanville-Hicks composer house in 2015. “Whilst there, I had flashes of an image … half man, half bird with one large wing on its right side, dressed in business attire,” he explains.

“Following the abstract advice of this image I decided to fuse the Greek God Zephyr with the mythical Phoenix to create a new beast; the Zephyrix. It’s a hybrid creature which, for me, symbolises the bridging of tensions that occur between our mundane struggles and the evils of life, and the liberating creative expression of our true selves.

“Zephyrix is the musical embodiment of that tension, encapsulating both the strain and release of this dichotomy. It seeks to explore the dialectic between struggle and serenity, and illuminate the myriad of unseen colours, tones and potentials that are held within a new and ever-emerging mind (Metanoia).

“The five birds of alchemy and transformation have been invoked to summon the Zephyrix: Black Crow, White Swan, Peacock, Pelican and Phoenix. They are the sign posts that guide us on our journey toward true serenity and real happiness.”

Zephyrix was premiered at Sydney Conservatorium’s Verbrugghen Hall in October 2015.

The Monash Art Ensemble acts to support the development of excellence in young Australian musicians, foster a culture of innovation among established Australian musicians and encourage community engagement with Australian musicians and music.

The ensemble, founded by Paul Grabowsky in 2012, has successfully embraced this concept and offers a pathway for talented students to interact with and build this basis for a strong and uniquely Australian 21st century musician.

The impressive line-up for the MAE performance of Zephyrix is as follows:

Barney McAll, piano
Jordan Murray, trombone
Josh Bennier, trombone
Paul Williamson, trumpet
Eugene Ball, trumpet
Lachlan Davidson, flute
Lara Wilson, percussion
Phil Rex, bass
Kieran Raffetty, drums
Jonathan Cooper, tenor
Zac O’Connell, alto
Joel Hands-Otte, bass clarinet
Harry Tinney, guitar

Black Money — Secular

I have always associated John McAll with wide-screen cinematic performances, the big stage and large productions, but his work with Black Money is edgy and often darkly humorous. The first Black Money album was recorded in New Jersey in 2007 and released in 2009. Alter Ego followed in 2012, recorded and produced by the ABC’s Mal Stanley. This is a rare opportunity to hear the elder McAll up close.

An inaugural graduate of the VCA’s jazz course, pianist and composer John McAll has been in demand as a musician over two decades. He was musical director and producer of shows At Last The Etta James Story and Here Comes The Night, which sold out Hamer Hall and the Opera House. This Van Morrison homage incorporated the MSO and SSO with McAll’s orchestrations.

Now John is taking a break from producing the latest Black Sorrows album and a busy international touring schedule to release Secular, the third album in a trilogy. Rumour has it there may be special guests along with his Black Money line-up.

John McAll on piano will be joined in this album launch by:

Tim Wilson alto flute
Carlos Barbaro tenor saxophone
Madison Foley trumpet
James Macaulay trombone
Philip Rex bass
Hugh Harvey drums

John McAll has worked with artists such as Gregory Porter, Ross Wilson, Wycliffe Gordon, Brian Abrahams, Renee Geyer, Kate Ceberano and Nichaud Fitzgibbon, as well as playing international concert stages with The David Chesworth Ensemble, Vika Bull and The Black Sorrows.

Here’s a video of Black Money’s Jungle Love:

ROGER MITCHELL

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CHANTAL FIRES A CANNONBALL INTO A TOUGH CROWD

Chantal Mitvalsky

Chantal Mitvalsky and Darrin Archer in Cannonball

REVIEW: David Rex Quartet / Cannonball, Chapel Off Chapel, Tuesday 20 May, 8pm for Stonnington Jazz

Vocalist, DJ and PBS broadcaster Chelsea Wilson introduced this two-set gig with lively enthusiasm, and there was every reason to look forward to what was in store from the brothers Rex. Alto saxophonist David, described by expatriate New York pianist composer Barney McAll as “the finest alto saxophonist in Australia today” was joining his sibling, acoustic bass powerhouse Philip. David Allardice was at the piano and Sam Bates was sitting in on drums in the absence of Danny Farrugia.

David Rex

David Rex plays Stonnington Jazz

The quartet played eight pieces, opening with John Coltrane’s Straight Street and closing with the catchy, upbeat Mr Hyde, in which we heard Allardice thoroughly warmed up on the keyboard, an absolute ripper of a bass solo and a strong alto solo to finish.

There was a lot to like in the set — the highlights for me were Philip Rex‘s solos — but either the audience was unresponsive or some interplay was missing between the players, because the vibe did not seem to be there on the night. We heard some super smooth, dreamy sax in David Rex‘s ballad Shades of Colour and some slightly bent alto notes in the classic Body and Soul (“a quick ballad to show how slow we can play”), plus tougher and faster bop in Slap It. But Hammond Song seemed to lack a real buzz and in general the quartet seemed to be finding it hard to fire up the small crowd.

Philip Rex

Philip Rex

I felt that a pianist such as John McAll may have added the pizzazz and flamboyance to arouse the audience on the night. Yet there was no denying the individual talents of the Rex boys on alto sax and double bass.

Tom Lee on bass and David Wilson on alto sax

Tom Lee on bass and David Wilson on alto sax

The second set brought on another alto saxophonist, Tim Wilson, who formed Cannonball to explore the joyous, soulful, grooving music of the great Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley. He was joined by Paul Williamson (trumpet), Darrin Archer (piano), Tom Lee (bass), Sam Bates (drums) and Chantal Mitvalsky (vocals).

To be honest, I was hoping to hear this band play pieces such as One for Daddy-O; Sack O’ Woe; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; Limehouse Blues or Walk Tall, but I had to be content with Work Song among my Adderley favourites.

Chantal Mitvalsky

Chantal Mitvalsky

That said, we were treated to a great trip down memory lane, beginning with the bright opening track The Chant, featuring top solos by Wilson and Williamson. We were not long without vocals and as soon as Mitvalsky came on for Ten Years of Tears — which included great bass work by Lee — the songstress became the focal point of the band. I think it was a tough audience, but Mitvalsky gradually roused them and won them over with the power of her personality and vocal range.

David Williamson

David Williamson

A restrained Williamson solo in If You Never Fall in Love With Me was a treat, as was Wilson’s alto in the bluesey Since I Fell For You, in which Mitvalsky’s vocals were expressive and powerful. In Work Song her forceful vocals carried conviction.The trumpet was another highlight in this piece.

Chantal Mitvalsky

Chantal Mitvalsky

Cannonball delivered the goods and no doubt reminded some in the audience of the Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley association. As a lover of the instrumental Adderley, I had to quell a wish to hear more of the band unadorned, but that’s a personal preference. I reckon Mitvalsky’s presence made the night for many at Chapel Off Chapel.

ROGER MITCHELL

Stonnington Jazz 

Tim Wilson

David Rex

WANGARATTA JAZZ IN FULL VOICE

first reason

___________

1. VOCALS

Maybe the stars are aligned. Maybe the success of voices raised against broadcaster Alan Jones has set the earth back on its axis. Maybe the irresistible force of vocal talent which is about to gather at Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival from November 2, 2012 is exerting its magnetic power.

Whatever the reason, this reluctant enthusiast for vocals in improvised music has received some signs that a Kurt Elling experience may lie ahead for me in the wilds of Wangaratta this year. When Elling performed at this prestigious festival, I was initially reluctant, then so captivated that I went back for more. (Why reluctant? Well, I have often found that the when music includes vocals, I quietly and secretly wish that I could hear the (other) instruments — and that is not from any lack of respect for the talents of the vocalists.)

Gelah Reh

Gelareh Pour

So, what signs have I seen? Well, at two recent gigs I have unexpectedly warmed to the work of vocalists, albeit only one of whom will be performing at Wangaratta in 2012.

In a short set at the Make It Up Club in Fitzroy, Adam Simmons played shakuhachi in a duo with Iranian Gelareh Pour, who played the kamanche stringed-instrument and sang so effortlessly and with such purity of sound that I was entranced.

Louise Goh

Louise Goh

Since then, at Paris Cat, Sarah Holmes invited Louise Goh to the microphone in a set by The Outfit. Again, I was struck by how much wordless vocals added to the pieces.

Neither Gelareh Pour nor Louise Goh will be at this year’s festival, but you never know what the future will bring.

And, as if these were not sufficient signs of the earth moving, I have had the opportunity to be immersed in the striking and compelling contribution of Carl Pannuzzo to MAGNET, which is the quartet comprising the vocalist along with Stephen Magnusson, Sergio Beresovsky and Eugene Ball. The self-titled album just released will, I predict, make its mark. Pannuzzo really takes the listener into interesting territory and demonstrates the power of vocals, as I am sure he will demonstrate with MAGNET at Wangaratta.

So having heard the portents and read the signs, I await the vocal delights at Wangaratta with the expectation of a student beginning a new subject.

Most of the population of music lovers will be hanging out for the strong, soulful voice of Gregory Porter (pictured top left in this post), who grew up in Los Angeles, but has been based in New York for the past couple of years. Porter will play with Australians John McAll on piano, Nick Lester on saxophones, Zvi Belling on bass and Danny Farrugia on drums. Artistic director of the festival, Adrian Jackson, says Porter’s music incorporates soul and gospel elements, particularly his original material but that if you hear him do some the standards on his recordings, such as Skylark and But Beautiful (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) he’s a really superb jazz singer.

Also a drawcard at Wangaratta will be Cyrille Aimee (pictured top right in this post), a young singer from France with a creative, effusive and fun style. She won the Montreux Jazz Festival International Singing Competition in 2007 and was runner up in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Singing Competition in 2010. Based in New York, she often performs at Dizzy’s, Birdland and Smalls. Her Surreal Band, which features expatriate Australians Sam Anning on bass and Raj Jayaweera on drums, will be joined by guitarist James Sherlock.

Of course there will be a whole lot more vocalists featured at this year’s festival, including the 10 finalists in the National Jazz Awards. They are Aimee, 28, from France (currently based in New York); Kristin Berardi, 31, from Sydney; Briana Cowlishaw, 23, from Sydney; Luara Karlson-Carp, 21, from Brisbane; Kate Kelsey-Sugg, 23, from Melbourne; Joshua Kyle, 26, from Melbourne; Chantal Mitvalsky, 29, from Melbourne; Judith Perl, 23, from Melbourne; Liz Tobias, 28, from Adelaide (currently based in Boston) and Katie Wighton, 24, from Sydney. For Miriam Zolin‘s interviews with the finalists, visit Jazz Planet.

The 10 were chosen after the three judges (Mike Nock, Michelle Nicolle and Vince Jones) assessed over 60 recorded entries on a ‘blindfold’ basis. They will perform at Wangaratta with an outstanding band comprising Sam Keevers (piano), Sam Anning (bass) and Raj Jayaweera (drums).

As well, Michelle Nicole and Vince Jones will perform with their bands, and Cyrille Aimee will open the Cup Eve concert before Vince Jones takes the stage.

ROGER MITCHELL