Tag Archives: melbourne international jazz festival

OF JAZZ HEROES AND HIGHLIGHTS

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter at Hamer Hall … surely one of the jazz heroes.

REVIEW / RAVE

Melbourne International Jazz Festival, June 3 to June 12, 2016

One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had during this jazz festival — and I’ve had a few, before and after attending 15 concerts — was about the jazz hero.

The person I spoke to was a musician who said he wanted to move away from that approach or model in bands in which he played. In this context I recalled a wonderful concert in Melbourne in which a band gradually swapped players while the music continued, morphing into a new group as newcomers quietly joined in and then others moved off stage during the set.

On the second night of this festival, June 4, I went to The Reverence Hotel in Footscray to hear 30/70 Collective make “future soul and hip-hop meet in the middle via jaunty boom bap”, to quote the program. As they say in some news programs, more on that story later.

After the first set by members of the collective who formed A Brother Scratch, the 30/70 Collective band members did something I have never seen before at a gig — they went into a huddle.

30/70 Collective

30/70 Collective in a huddle before performing.

Already feeling the warm glow from the first set of music that was out of my familiarity zone, so to speak, I was quite taken by this musical group hug, which seemed designed to engender team spirit. It was not long before the packed room was moving to the hypnotic grooves — myself included.

By now you’ll have realised this is more of a rave than a hard-nosed review. But there is a point. The musician mentioned who wants to move away from dependence on heroes in jazz described 30/70 Collective as being like a family. That certainly fitted with my impression from the vibes in the pub.

I decided to try applying the idea of avoiding heroes to the reviewing of a festival. Bear with me.

Reviewers often mention their list of standout gigs or highlights during a festival. I have often done that. And I’ve often asked other patrons and other reviewers to name the bands they’ve most enjoyed. It’s a natural thing, especially if there is limited space in a review, to pick the standouts.

But what if a festival review was more like a collective of gigs? Then I could value each for its special qualities — what worked well and even what didn’t. That’s how I feel about the mix of very different MIJF concerts that I went to this year.

Children of the Light Trio

Children of the Light Trio at Bennetts Lane

On night eight of the MIJF I went to Bennetts Lane at 10pm to hear Children of the Light Trio consisting of Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums — Wayne Shorter‘s band without the hero, if you like.

That’s laughable, you’ll say, because each member of this trio is a hero in their own right. True, but — and I’m already breaking with the “no highlights” approach — that band’s performance without Shorter that night was the gig I’d have to say has stayed with me and will do so for a long time to come.

On the final night of the festival I did hear Wayne Shorter with the members of this band. Afterwards I heard snippets of opinion, including comments that he did not play for a great portion of the set, that some say he’s too comfortable with Perez, Patitucci and Blade, and, notwithstanding, that this hero of jazz is on a different plane from any of the great players still alive.

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter plays Hamer Hall

Hearing Shorter at Hamer Hall was special. Getting relatively close to record some images was pretty special.

Hearing him in conversation with Jon Faine, Wilbur Wilde and Kristin Berardi on ABC radio 774 was also special — and at times hilarious. His refusal to get bogged down by labels and his wish to think so broadly about life made me wonder whether Wayne Shorter would want to be put on a pedestal.

I enjoyed his playing on this occasion a lot more than when I heard him some years ago at The Palais in St Kilda, which is perhaps a sign that I had then been uneducated in what to expect — frequent changes of direction and very short bursts of sax. This time he did not play for too long in the set, but what he contributed was considered and just right in the moment.

That said, after reflection, I took more away from his quartet members’ gig as a trio in the much smaller venue. Of course it would be far too exclusive to have Shorter perform to such a limited audience.

Anyway, my search for a hook or a story on which to hang reflections on this year’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival has ended — albeit in way too meandering a fashion — at that strong image of 30/70 Collective in a huddle. To that image I add some showing large ensembles featured at this festival at the ends of their concerts.

the migration

Stu Hunter and musicians after “the migration” at Malthouse Theatre.

We’ve seen some big projects come to fruition on stage this year — Stu Hunter‘s the migration, the Monash Art Ensemble‘s performance with Tomasz Stanko, the release of a new album by Peter Knight’s Way Out West.

Jordan Murray and Tomasz Stanko with Monash Art Ensemble

Jordan Murray and Tomasz Stanko with Monash Art Ensemble

All of these have involved a lot of work and huge collective effort.

Keyon Harrold with Twi-Life

Keyon Harrold with Twi-Life

And of course in smaller ensembles such as Andrea Keller’s Transients, the Allan Browne Quintet performing Ithaca Bound at Uptown Jazz Cafe, Keyon Harrold with Twi-Life, Shai Maestro Trio, the Tomasz Stanko Band and the Tribute to Allan Browne trio of Paul Grabowsky, Mirko Guerrini and Niko Schauble, we have heard the results of collective interaction.

Even in the solo gig by Paolo Angeli at the Bluestone Church in Footscray we saw how his instrument’s many parts worked together to produce different styles of music.

Interaction is what makes the diverse music that makes up jazz so engrossing, inventive and wonderful. And each musician brings to the stage the formative background that has shaped them — influences that interact and find expression in changing ways as they practise and play.

Some of us will love, like or not like some of the music we hear from improvising musicians, but at its core is that interaction. We see and delight in it as we watch the faces of the musicians at work.

End of rave. In the days ahead I will add a few, much shorter, separate posts — with pictures — to cover concerts I attended as part of this festival.

In the meantime, musicians will be playing live in lots of venues around Melbourne, so get out there. You won’t regret it.

ROGER MITCHELL

 

 

 

 

 

LONG LOOK AT A SHORTER FESTIVAL

PREVIEW

Melbourne International Jazz Festival, June 3 – 12, 2016

Tomasz Stanko

Tomasz Stanko

SOME of the main drawcards at this year’s festival are well-known knowns — Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Gary Bartz — but it’s a big program with plenty of other artists to be excited about.

Stats don’t put flesh on the bones, but over 10 days the festival will stage 74 events involving 335 artists (75 international and 260 Australian), 22 free events and heaps of club sessions at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Uptown Jazz Cafe and Dizzy’s Jazz Club. The larger venues will include Hamer Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, Forum, Malthouse and The Channel at Arts Centre Melbourne.

On the final three days Riverside Bar at Southbank will host Hamer Jazz Bar each evening from 6pm as a rendezvous for festival patrons.

As usual, the main program is divided into Modern Masters, Explorations in Jazz and the three sets of Club Sessions, plus five Jazz Out West events, seven Close Encounters and two Artist Workshops at Monash University.

Gary Bartz

Gary Bartz

All good festivals come with a clash or two not emanating from a drum kit and MIJF 2016 opens with a big one. Our own flamboyant pianist and composer Barney McAll has had a hand in bringing jazz great Gary Bartz from the US to play Melbourne Recital Centre on opening night, with Andrea Keller’s Transients I as support.

This clashes head-on with PBS Young Elder of Jazz Commission winner Joe O’Connor on piano in a quartet at Bennetts Lane to perform Confrontations. In six dialogues, O’Connor’s work will balance “tonal and non-tonal harmony, regular and irregular rhythm, delicate lyricism and impressive density”. That sounds pretty damn interesting. These two gigs present a tough choice.

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding

There’s no need to say a lot about Esperanza Spalding, who will play the Forum at 9.30pm on opening night, because she will draw crowds. Marcus J. Moore on Pitchfork described her album Emily’s D+Evolution thus: “Using a dissonant guitar riff, thumping drums, and lurching time signature, it almost feels like a dare to stick around. The album has the feel of a nervy gauntlet throw, seething with the sort of ferocity that only comes from time spent alone, far away from the limelight. These are exuberant, confrontational songs, amplified in the same sort of rock/funk hybrid style that brings Prince and Janelle Monae to mind. Gone is the Afro, replaced with long braids, wide-rimmed glasses, and ornate outfits.”

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter also needs no promotion. He plays Hamer Hall on the festival’s closing night with Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums. Enough said, although I’m hoping for some longer bursts of saxophone magic from the great player than we heard at the Palais when he was last here.

Perez, Patitucci and Blade will play two gigs at Bennetts on Friday, June 10 as Children of the Light Trio. Surely this must be one not to miss.

While on the subject of bass players, Hawthorn luthier Benedict Puglisi is making acoustic bass instruments specifically for Spalding and Patitucci to play while they are here. That suggests his work is pretty special.

The international artists include some who were popular on previous visits to the festival. Genre-crossing Robert Glasper Trio (US), who performed in 2012, will return in an acoustic trio format with new album, Covered, on June 4 at MRC with Ross McHenry Trio supporting.

Mulatu Astatke

Mulatu Astatke (Image: Nick Pitsas)

And the “father of Ethio jazz” Mulatu Astatke (Ethiopia), who played the festival in 2010, will join the local band Black Jesus Experience at the Malthouse on Wednesday, June 8 to give the world premiere of The Cradle of Humanity.

Hiromi

Hiromi

Also returning is the pianist from Japan who sold out three shows in 2012, Hiromi. She who joins Simon Phillips on drums and Anthony Jackson on contra bass guitar at Hamer Hall on Thursday, June 9.

Tomasz Stanko

Tomasz Stanko (Image: Caroline Forbes)

And I don’t care what clashes with Polish trumpet maestro Tomasz Stańko‘s band featuring Alexi Tuomarila on piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz on bass and Olavi Louhivuori on drums. I’ll be at one of their two Malthouse concerts on Thursday, June 9 at 6.30pm and 9pm.

Also at the Malthouse and not to be missed on Saturday, June 11, will be Stańko and Paul Grabowsky leading the Monash Art Ensemble at 6.30pm to explore the music of Krysztof Komeda, who scored Rosemary’s Baby and Knife in the Water. Not to be missed.

Latin jazz titan, pianist Eddie Palmieri (US) will spend five days with Monash University student musicians before their Jazz Futures performance at the MRC Salon on Thursday, June 9 at 6pm. Palmieri’s Latin Jazz Septet will set feet tapping at Hamer Hall on Friday, June 10 at 7.30pm.

Singer José James will pay tribute to the music of Billie Holiday in Yesterday I Had the Blues at Hamer Hall on Saturday, June 11 at 7.30pm.

And to complete the Modern Masters concerts, Vince Jones and Matt McMahon will join the Astral Orchestra to bring us Van Morrison’s Masterpieces at 7.30pm on Friday, June 10 at MRC.

Snarky Puppy

Snarky Puppy (Image: Philippe Levy Stab)

As part of the Explorations in Jazz series, guitarist Lionel Loueke (US) will join Sydney group The Vampires for two Bennetts Lane gigs on Saturday, June 4. And crowd-pleasers Snarky Puppy (US), who wowed crowds here in 2013, will be in the Forum at 9.30pm on Thursday, June 9.

The Coopers Malthouse has great beers on tap (I’m not paid to say that) and it may suit many to spend Friday, June 10 there to hear Stu Hunter‘s suite The Migration (a fantastic line-up) at 6.30pm and then Kristin Berardi Band (also a top line-up) at 9pm. You could not possibly go wrong with these two performances by Australian bands.

The Malthouse also hosts Peter Knight’s Way Out West on Saturday, June 11 at 9pm, featuring koto virtuoso Satsuki Odamura and Ray Pereira on fun and fiery African-influenced percussion. This gig will showcase new material and is sure to be a knockout.

And anyone who can remember the Chris Dave and the Drumhedz festival gig in 2014 should recall multi-reedist Marcus Strickland. Twi-Life is set to deliver soul, jazz-funk and R&B in two shows at Bennetts Lane on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, at 7.30pm and 10pm (they must be expecting a crowd — that’s four concerts).

If all that music’s not enough, there are club sessions. Can’t mention them all, but here are a few likely highlights.

Guitarist Paolo Angeli (Italy) will join local musicians at Bennetts Lane to bring us jazz influenced by Sardinian folk songs (June 3). He will also play solo guitar at Bluestone Church Arts Space in Hyde Street, Footscray at 4pm on Sunday, June 5. Westies must come out to this and other MIJF gigs at Dancing Dog Cafe (Wallace), Reverence Hotel (30/70 Collective) and Footscray Community Arts Centre (Jazz-a-Bye Baby).

Get close up and personal with Robert Glasper Trio at Bennetts on June 5. Hear a tribute to our maestro of Mondays and much besides, drummer Allan Browne, on June 6. If you fancy trumpah, as Scott Tinkler would put it, don’t miss Keyon Harrold and Twi-Life musicians in two gigs on June 8. And for fans of drummer Ari Hoenig, there are two gigs on June 9 at Bennetts featuring guitarist Quentin Angus and bassist Sam Anning.

Uptown Jazz Cafe has a ripper line-up of gigs during the festival. Don’t miss Mark Fitgzibbon Trio (June 3), Paul Williamson Quartet playing Monk (June 3), Andrea Keller’s Transients IV (June 4), Stephen Magnusson Trio (June 5), Ithaca Bound suite, music of the Allan Browne Quintet (June 6), Jamie Oehlers/Paul Grabowsky Quartet (June 9) and Sam Keevers’ Red Fish Blue (June 12). These and the other Uptown gigs are delivering seriously good jazz.

Dizzy’s Jazz Club in Richmond also has eight festival gigs, so look these up on the festival website.

Time’s almost up if I’m to post this as the embargo expires. Apologies for any errors. Other events of note include the free opening concert at Fed Square on June 4 at 1.30pm featuring Brazilian and Latin ensembles led by Alistair Kerr and Sam Keevers respectively.

Barney McAll is going to play about with the Federation Bells and anything could happen with that. Keep an ear out at noon on June 4 in Birrarung Marr.

And the Queen Vic market will groove to Los Cabrones on June 8 at 6pm to warm up the Winter Night Markets.

And at noon on Sunday, June 12, at The Channel, 100 St Kilda Rd, Southbank you may find out how many festival artistic directors it takes to change … well … a light globe, a set list, a door gig, a minor key … you name it.

ROGER MITCHELL

For further details and full program visit the festival website.

Note: Many images posted above are supplied by MIJF.

 

 

A SUITCASE PACKED WITH GOODIES

REVIEW

Melbourne International Jazz Festival, May 28 to June 7, 2015

Coverage of this year’s festival was necessarily truncated, because I had a suitcase to pack and a plane to catch early on June 5. I’d deliberately scaled down the list of concerts for review, keeping to the smaller venues that in my experience deliver an up close and personal experience.

So the sum of gigs attended was a paltry 11, but these delivered in spades, with hardly a dull moment and a succession of highlights.

Gian Slater

Gian Slater in Maya

Starting with a high can set the tone for a festival experience, and I decided not to miss Maya, this year’s PBS Young Elder of Jazz Commission concert at the soon-to-close Bennetts Lane at 7pm on May 29. The work was composed by Gian Slater and featured Andrea Keller on piano and Simon Barker on drums along with Invenio Vocal Ensemble members Louisa Rankin, Hannah Cameron and Miriam Crellin.

The MIJF program promised “primal, worldless (sic) singing” (sub-editors needed). PBS Program Manager Owen McKern referred to the line-up in his introduction as being essentially two trios.

Invenio singers and Simon Barker in Maya

Invenio singers and Simon Barker in Maya

I found this work enthralling, engrossing and seamlessly layered, delivered with great expertise, agility and presence by vocalists and instrumental players. Rather than there being two trios, I felt this was the most cohesive ensemble work so far by the adventurous Slater, who never shies away from breaking new ground. The Invenio vocalists were integral and superbly integrated with Slater as voices undulated, pulsated, soared and shimmered. Keller and Barker were riveting.

Walter Smith III

Walter Smith III and Harish Raghavan

At 10pm that night, Bennetts Lane hosted the Walter Smith III Quintet, featuring the young tenor saxophonist with Taylor Eigsti on piano, Julian Lage on guitar, Harish Raghavan on double bass and Eric Harland on drums. Hindsight can be an impediment, because looking back on this concert after the following night’s outing by the same players under Harland’s direction for Voyager has influenced my perception.

There were definite highlights as Smith’s quintet played some pieces from the 2014 album Still Casual, including the billed “smoky balladry” in one case featuring a standout, long tenor solo, some fire from Lage in July and a muted but marvellous duo of guitar and sax in Goodnight Now. Yet this gig, on the night, was not compelling. As I discovered, the quintet would deliver much more in Harland’s Voyager.

David King

David King at The Malthouse with The Bad Plus

But before that, at 7pm in Merlyn Theatre at the Malthouse, The Bad Plus were back in town, ready to fit their description in The New Yorker as “the Coen brothers of jazz”. Well I love the work of those filmic brothers and as soon as Ethan Iverson sat at the piano, Reid Anderson took up his bass and David King fired up the drum kit I realised just how much I loved the varying textures and rhythms of this trio.

Anderson, Iverson and King treated us to pieces from fairly recent albums (Inevitable Western, Made Possible) and some from those released much earlier (Give, These Are the Vistas), seeming to play quite independently and yet with evident interplay as they built ever-changing landscapes. The Bad Plus thrives on variations and it’s exciting.

These guys are seamless. This is intelligent jazz, if that makes any sense, with a clear sense of humour and many a deft touch. They obviously knew this material so well, and had played these pieces so often, that I wondered how much was new on the night. Maybe some, perhaps even all of it, but regardless it is a treat to hear such polished musicians at work.

Eric Harland in Voyager

Eric Harland in Voyager

At 10pm — or a little later, as I recall — Eric Harland took over the Walter Smith quintet and took us on a voyage with his Voyager. It’s crazy, perhaps, and not good reviewing practice, but on rare occasions I become so mesmerised and involved in the music that I fail to write even a sparse note or two to help me describe it later. This was one of those gigs.

Eric Harland in Voyager

Eric Harland in Voyager

I could not get over how much more compelling and energetic this quintet was when playing Harland’s compositions. It was the same band, but entirely different output. There were four Voyager gigs at this festival and I would be confident every punter came away with an experience to savour for a long time. Thanks Eric Harland for this journey.

Jazz-A-Bye Baby

A young star performs during Jazz-A-Bye Baby

Jazz-A-Bye Baby

Ben Gillespie and Phil Noy of The Hoodangers enjoy Jazz-A-Bye Baby

And now for something completely different. On Sunday, May 31 at 10am (the early hour should have told me something) Jazz Out West brought The Hoodangers to the Footscray Community Arts Centre for Jazz-a-Bye Baby. This was the wildest gig I’ve been to since Adam Simmons brought his Toy Band out west, but this time toddlers and babies had free rein. Invited to move about and take over the floor, littlies and their significant adults danced, jigged and moved to the fun music that streamed Hoodangers-style from the stage. It was a hoot and may have sown the seeds of musical appreciation in many a youngster. Adults probably left exhausted.

Allan Browne at the drum kit for Ithaca Bound

Allan Browne at the drum kit for Ithaca Bound

On Monday, June 7, at roughly 8.30pm, Al Browne joined Geoff Hughes (guitar), Eugene Ball (trumpet), Phil Noy (alto sax), Nick Haywood (bass) on stage at Bennetts Lane to launch the quintet’s latest joint work, recently released on CD, Ithaca Bound. It was the last time many of us would hear Allan play.

It seems fitting that Allan Browne, in the collaborative spirit integral to this ensemble, brought Homer’s epic odyssey to fruition before he died. Appropriately, it seems now, Ball’s composition Sanctuary seemed full of sadness before lifting us gently up. The band brought some swing to Memory and Kharis (Ball). Hughes and Haywood excelled in The Lotus Eaters (Ball). Al Browne’s only composition in the suite, Peace At Last, which reflected his love of poetry, faded gently away.

Geoff Hughes and Eugene Ball during Ithaca Bound

Geoff Hughes and Eugene Ball during Ithaca Bound

It is not possible to separate my recollection of that concert, which was rich and fulfilling as a suite of original works, from the knowledge that Al Browne is gone. I can say only that I miss him.

Julian Lage with his trio at Bennetts Lane

Julian Lage with his trio at Bennetts Lane

At 10pm Julian Lage joined Eric Harland and Harish Raghavan for what was a sublime display of delicacy and finesse in guitar virtuosity.

What a dream trio. Lage radiated enjoyment and enthusiasm as well as attentiveness, ensuring an upbeat and interactive dynamic that carried this gig to great heights.

Julian Lage

Julian Lage

Lage plays with lightness and fluidity, so that the notes float out from the guitar and hang in the air, yet there is plenty of propulsion, as evidenced in Gardens from his World’s Fair solo album. I did not want this concert to end.

Paul Grabowsky conducts The Monash Art Ensemble and the Young Wagilak Group in Nyilpidgi

Paul Grabowsky conducts The Monash Art Ensemble and the Young Wagilak Group in Nyilpidgi

On June 3 at the Malthouse, the Monash Art Ensemble with the Young Wagilak Group of South-East Arnhem Land performed Nyilpidgi under the baton of Paul Grabowsky. This festival premiere was a chance to again hear Daniel Wilfred on voice and bilma (clapsticks) and brother David on didjeridu in a larger setting than Bennetts Lane, where I found the CD launch of Crossing Roper’s Bar Volume 2 deeply affecting.

That sort of emotional involvement or affect is more difficult in a large auditorium and when you are not sitting a metre or two from the players. In Merlyn Theatre Daniel Wilfred’s voice had presence rather than real power.

I found Nyilpidgi to be difficult music, fragmented and changeable, full of contrasts and sharp edges. It was often fiery and dramatic. Yet all this was surely entirely intended. Grabowsky, the ensemble and the Wilfred brothers were marrying music from the world’s oldest living culture with computer-generated, electronic crackle (courtesy of Australian Art Orchestra Artistic Director Peter Knight) and the most modern of jazz explorations, so some fireworks were to be expected.

I’m not sure it formed a cohesive whole and at times I found the music shocking (that is, it made me sit up and take notice). There were some great individual contributions from the ensemble, including those of Paul Williamson on trumpet, Rob Burke on soprano sax, Tony Hicks on clarinet and a young sax player who I can’t name. And the closing Goodbye Song demonstrated the deep affection and mutual respect between these musicians.

The moving finale to Nyilpidgi

The moving finale to Nyilpidgi

Did Nyilpidgi work? For me, it did not conjure images of the ancestor creating his land again, making spears, hunting, weaving and dissolving into the wind, as the program notes stated. Yet it was an arresting and always lively coalition of cultures that perhaps was intended to challenge. If so, it did.

I wanted to stay to hear Barney McAll’s Mooroolbark at the Malthouse, the band resplendent in orange safety vests, but this was one of the inevitable festival clashes. I heard too little before having to leave for Bennetts Lane to catch expatriate pianist Marc Hannaford with Ellery Eskelin on saxophone, Scott Tinkler on trumpet and Tom Rainey on drum kit.

I had not heard Hannaford’s 2014 album Can You See With Two Sets of Eyes?, which features this line-up, but after listening to it since I realise that the live festival set made the recorded versions seem tame. That was to be expected, as was the calibre of the two New York musicians who joined Hannaford, now living there, and Tinkler.

You’d have to say this complex, cool music is not for everyone, but anyone who was not totally blown away by this outing had long since left the building. We all sat there riveted, loving every minute. Rainey’s engagement was superb and Eskelin made intricacy an art form. Tinkler was in fine form — my ears hurt in Composition No.2 — and it was great to hear Hannaford back in Melbourne, albeit briefly.

Tord Gustavsen at The Malthouse

Tord Gustavsen at The Malthouse

My final night at the MIJF began at the Malthouse with the Tord Gustavsen Quartet, featuring Norway’s Gustavsen on piano, Tore Brunborg on saxophone, Sigurd Hole on double bass and Jarle Vepestad on drums. Amid frantic preparations to fly away, I was ready for some reflective music and a dose of peacefulness.

Jarle Vepestad and Sigurd Hole at The Malthouse

Jarle Vepestad and Sigurd Hole at The Malthouse

The quartet did not disappoint. Traditional Norwegian folk tunes injected welcome energy in some pieces, which were faster and toe-tappingly swinging, but most were restful and exploratory, at times slow and majestic, then suggestive of sweeping vistas in afternoon light. After the closing Castle in Heaven, which began with bowed bass and piano before featuring some filigree-light drum work, an encore was mandatory. This concert was a meditative experience.

Joe Lovano

Joe Lovano

But that mood was to be broken. Between 11.30pm and 1am at Bennetts Lane — my last chance to hear music there — Grammy-award winning saxophonist Joe Lovano would reunite with Paul Grabowsky on piano, Philip Rex on bass and Dave Beck on drums in a mind-blowing extravaganza of an outing that took no prisoners and carried us all into the stratosphere.

Joe Lovano

Joe Lovano

Am I getting a little carried away? Possibly a tad, but not really. This was a solid wall-to-wall set of extraordinary music that served as a perfect ending to my festival and a send-off to the landmark jazz club that had delivered so many inspirational moments.

Dave Beck

Dave Beck

In extended takes on Lovano’s Folk Art, Our Daily Bread and Monk’s Four in One, Lovano, Grabowsky, Rex and Beck took hold of us and played as if there was nothing else in the world. And, for 90 minutes, there wasn’t.

I slipped away into the night, home to pack a suitcase and head into another hemisphere. This had been a truncated Melbourne International Jazz Festival, but it had provided some ripper gigs. Bring on the next one.

ROGER MITCHELL

Coming soon: Preview of this year’s Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues.