Tag Archives: Martha Baartz

DARK SKY – DENSON BAARTZ QUARTET

Denson-Baartz-album_1200x The Dark Sky album cover. (Image: Alfred Schrock)

ALBUM REVIEW

DENSON-BAARTZ QUARTET (Brisbane) –  Dark Sky

4 stars*

Pianist Louise Denson and alto saxophonist Martha Baartz are co-leaders on this debut album by a relatively new group featuring their original compositions. It was recorded live at the Brisbane International Jazz Festival in 2017 at the Brisbane Multicultural Centre.

Originally from Canada, Denson has lectured at Queensland Conservatorium for more than 20 years, producing four albums there with her LDG ensemble since 1996. Baartz worked in Melbourne with the Baartz-Freeman Sextet before moving back to the Byron Bay area, where she teaches saxophone at Lismore campus of Southern Cross University and is a first-call saxophonist from Brisbane to the Northern Rivers.

The group also features bassist Helen Russell,  and drummer Aaron Jansz, with Malcolm Wood on flugelhorn.

Denson and Baartz are perfectly matched in this delightful collection of tunes which range from gently driving swing in Kingston Blues (Baartz) to the more pensive Now You Are Gone (Denson), which begins with solo piano before the alto saxophone floats in a wistful, slow lament. The album feels infused with balmy air currents, yet the toes will be tapping during Sambacita (Denson) and the jaunty She Can (Baartz). Piano and sax combine to give momentum in Cheek (Denson), and there is a bright and saucy strength to King’s Gold (Baartz). The alto muses over strong bass and piano rhythms in Lately (Denson). The title track (Baartz) seems less about foreboding and perhaps more about the gradual closing of a day, while the beautiful Murphy’s Love (Baartz) is a dreamy soliloquy woven tenderly with piano, bass, sax and flugelhorn notes.

Dark Sky is a debut album for this group, yet it feels like a completion – a coming together that was meant to happen.

Dark Sky was recorded, mixed and mastered by Mark Smith of Real Productions, and was released under the Pinnacles Music label.

Album launch dates for Dark Sky:

Sunday February 10, 8-10 pm, The Jazzlab, Leslie Street, Brunswick (supported by the Melbourne Jazz Co-op)
Friday February 22, 7.30pm – 10pm, The Brisbane Jazz Club, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane
 Sunday March 3rd, 3-5pm, The Lismore City Bowling Club, Lismore

ROGER MITCHELL

* I don’t like giving stars, because they mean such different things to different people, but the rating is out of five and that number would rarely, if ever, be reached, and then only on an album that had stood the test of time.

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WINE, WOMEN AND SONG — IT’S A DREAM DROP

Martha Baartz

Martha Baartz with Baartzy’s Brew at Bennetts Lane in 2010.

CD REVIEW / MWIJF PREVIEW

Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival: Martha Baartz Quintet Dream Drops CD launch, Wednesday 11 December 2013, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, 8.30pm

Alto saxophonist Martha Baartz was lost to the Melbourne jazz scene when she returned to northern New South Wales a while ago after 12 years down south, but she has visited for MWIJF gigs in 2010 and 2011.

Dream Drops cover

This year Baartz is launching her new album, Dream Drops, at the festival and drawing on a stellar line-up of Paul Williamson on tenor, Bob Sedergreen on piano, Greg Lyon on electric bass and Sonja Horbelt on drums.

Baartz has featured original compositions on her earlier sextet albums with guitarist Lliam FreemanSoutheast (2003, Move) included five Baartz pieces and 12 Salutations (2005, Newmarket) had six of her originals, including a favourite of mine, Jungle of Flies.

Stephen Grant‘s trumpet is not in the Dream Drops line-up for the recording and Jim Kelly replaces Freeman on guitar. The rest of the band consists of Stephen Russell on piano, David Sanders on drums and Lyon on electric bass.  Jack Thorncraft plays double bass on the final track, Johnny Green’s standard Body and Soul.

The relaxed, even languid feel of northern NSW seems to have permeated this album, which displays the fluidity and ease of Baartz’s sax work these days. She is obviously having fun and that comes through on this CD.

Dream Drops sandwiches four Baartz originals between two standards. A lively, lightly swinging version of Jimmy Forrest’s Night Train opens the album  and a live rendition of Johnny Green’s classic Body and Soul, recorded at the Brisbane Jazz Club, wraps it up. On a relatively short album (in other words, I’d have liked to hear more) this 10-minute standard is a highlight, with Baartz displaying great finesse and subtlety, as does Russell on piano. I found this interpretation a beautiful reminder of why we warm to standards.

Of the originals, Walking in the Moonlight is warmly melodic and the title track exemplifies the gentle interaction of Baartz and Kelly on sax and guitar. The First of July includes a great solo by Russell.

Dream Drops is music to infuse a sunny disposition into your day or night.

ROGER MITCHELL

Now here’s a preview of this year’s Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival. I’m going to miss some of these concerts due to night shifts at work, but there are plenty of treats in store for those able to be there.

2013 MWIJF GIGS AT BENNETTS LANE:

Sunday 8 December, 8.30pm — Double bill: Jodie Michael Trio and Audrey Boyle Quartet

Jodie Michael Trio

A graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2012 with a Bachelor of Music, (Performance), Jazz, Michael returned to New York this year for further study. Her trio of Michael on drums, Steve Barry on organ and Carl Morgan on guitar will endeavour to present a music that expresses the drummer’s “love for all styles of music, something that highlights the `broken’ quality of music; an adventure of sorts into music, breaking it up and putting it back together rhythmically and structurally, communicating what I had found in the process of exploration”.

Audrey Boyle

Audrey Boyle                                   (Image supplied)

Audrey Boyle Quartet

A Melbourne trumpet player, composer and improviser, Boyle graduated in 2012 from Monash University with Honours in Music Performance. She was the 2011 recipient of the James Morrison Jazz Prize as part of the Melbourne International Brass Festival. She has performed with Don Burrows, James Morrison, Tony Hicks, Adam Rapa, Kendrick Scott and Terence Blanchard. Her quartet will comprise this year’s National Jazz Awards winner Joseph O’Connor on piano, Marty Holoubek on bass and James McLean on drums.

Tamara Murphy with her ensemble performing Big Creatures Little Creatures

Tamara Murphy

Monday 9 December, 8.30pm — Browne, Keller and Murphy Trio

Allan Browne, Andrea Keller & Tamara Murphy formed their trio in 2003 for the MWIJF and continued intermittent performances on Monday nights. Now they have recorded their “tender tapestries” on an album that “seems to know the B-line to the beating heart of your ear”. Multi-award winning composer/pianist Andrea Keller joins talented and awarded bassist Tamara Murphy to “bring to the fore the feminine and the poetic side” of drummer Allan Browne as they collaborate to feature compositions from the trio’s debut album Carried By The Sun.

Sarah Holmes and Arlene Fletcher

Sarah Holmes and Arlene Fletcher                (Image supplied)

Tuesday 10 December, 8.30pm, Double bill — Arlene Fletcher Quintet and Sarah Holmes’ The Outfit

Arlene Fletcher Quintet: Arlene Fletcher is known as a bassist with The Furbelows, Sidney Creswick, STEM, SMES and Taktok. She will lead a line-up of Harry Cook piano, James Milic drums, Tom Sly trumpet and Tom Noonan saxophone to play originals and some cheeky arrangements influenced by Brad Mehldau, Avishai Cohen.

The Outfit: This Melbourne group plays tunes about coffee, knitting, tumbleweeds and a young man who looks like Jesus. It features compositions by bassist Sarah Holmes, and the talents of Daniel Brates/Adam Coad drums, Diego Villalta guitar, Rob Simone saxophone and Louise Goh vocals, playing swinging tunes and layered soundscapes. It’s music that will make you happy.

Martha Baartz

Martha Baartz

Wednesday 13 December, 8.30pm — Martha Baartz Quintet, CD launch

Alto saxophonist and composer Baartz has travelled and performed extensively including international festivals such as the world famous Glastonbury Festival and The Edinburgh Festival. She will launch her new album Dream Drops with Melbourne musicians , featuring Paul Williamson tenor saxophone, Bob Sedergreen piano, Greg Lyon electric bass and Sonja Horbelt drums. The band will play original tunes that range from delta blues and New Orleans funk to beautiful ballads and smooth swing.

Monique diMattina

Monique diMattina                                        (Image supplied)

Thursday 12 December, 8.30pm — Monique DiMattina and Guests

Singer/songwriter, Fulbright scholar, radio personality, boogie-woogie barrelhouse basher, composer of crystalline piano miniatures, bunjee jumper, marathon runner and mother of two, Monique diMattina is known for her song-in-an-hour antics on Melbourne 3RRR and ABC 774. DiMattina on piano and vocals will be joined by Kellie Santin saxophone, Doug de Vries acoustic guitar, Howard Cairns sousaphone and bass to perform material from her latest release Nola’s Ark recorded in New Orleans.

Lisa Young

Lisa Young                                         (Image supplied)

Friday 13 December, 8.30pm — Lisa Young Quartet

A creative rhythmic vocal stylist and improviser who incorporates Indian and African elements, Young has been a long-time student of maestro Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani in Chennai. Specialising in South Indian vocal percussion, Young has performed with vocal group Coco’s Lunch and her quartet. In a rare Melbourne performance, she will play with her award-winning quartet featuring Ben Robertson bass, Hugh Stuckey guitar and Danny Farrugia drums to performing the song cycle The Eternal Pulse and other favourites.

Saturday 14 December, 8.30pm — Creative Vocal Series

Curated by vocalist/composer Gian Slater this series of concerts celebrates the abundance of distinctive, innovative vocalists in Melbourne’s jazz and contemporary music scene in Melbourne. For the MWIJF the series features vocalists Clio Renner, Helen Catanchin and Hailey Cramer presenting original music with their ensembles.

Clio Renner: A recent VCA graduate, Renner fuses pop song form with improvisational elements to deliver a musical tapestry woven with Folk sensibilities and Art Song poetics. Renner (voice, piano) will be joined by Steve Hornby on bass and James McLean on drums to explore the relationship between piano and voice as lead instrument and accompaniment.

Helen Catanchin: While completing a Master of Arts (Music Performance) at Monash University, Catanchin focused on wordless singing. She created 10 new works created explore the aesthetic, expressive and abstractive potential of a range of wordless vocal sounds, juxtaposed against the limits on lyrics. Catanchin’s MWIJF performance will feature this new music and earlier works. Catanchin will be joined by Ben Edgar guitar, Luke Howard piano, Philip Rex double bass and James McLean drums. This intensely personal music has been described as “melodic and reflective, lush, tender and at times raw”.

Hailey Cramer: Reputed to be one of the most interesting artists in Melbourne’s burgeoning electronic-infused soul scene, Cramer featured on the hit collaboration The Festival Song’ with rapper Pez and has performed with Michael Franti, 360, Mark Levine, Paul Grabowsky and Blue King Brown. She released her debut self-titled EP last year at the Toff. Working alongside producer Dan West, Hailey has sculpted a remarkable sonic landscape that draws on her musical past while revealing her eclectic musical inspirations and aspirations. Cramer’s vocals will be accompanied by Justin Marshall percussion and bits, Dan West beats and bits, with backing vocals by Zoe Kalenderidis and Joanna Lavell.

Gian Slater

Gian Slater

Sunday 15 December 2013, 8.30pm — Festival Sextet
Each year MWIJF seeks to form a sextet of leading female musicians to perform and promote original material and pieces by other female artists. Past members have included Sandy Evans, Nadje Noordhuis, Felicity Provan, Anita Hustas, Shannon Barnett, Tamara Murphy and Fiona Burnett.

This year the sextet comprises Gian Slater voice, Savannah Blount saxophone, Andrea Keller piano, Fran Swinn guitar, Arlene Fletcher bass and Sonja Horbelt drums.