Tag Archives: Mike Nock New Quintet

THINGS HAPPEN — A FEW WORDS ON WANG

Kurt Elling

Impish humour: Kurt Elling the showman.

REVIEW: WANGARATTA JAZZ 2010

ROGER MITCHELL attempts to sum up Australia’s major festival of improvised music in a few words

WHEN Mike Nock’s New Quintet opened the 21st annual jazz festival at Wangaratta on Friday, the pianist told the audience, “This is jazz. Things happen.”

It was good advice. The festival program had not seemed to promise as much as in recent years. But things happen.

By midnight Saturday, a damp but satisfied audience left Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre still reverberating from a fiery set by saxophonist Oliver Lake’s organ quartet – the festival’s first experience of a Hammond B3 organ.

Patrons did not know a rubber band applied by Melbourne saxophonist Adam Simmons had repaired Oliver Lake’s sax in time for the visiting US quartet to deliver ferocious and virtuosic swing – topping its Friday night outing.

And by midnight Sunday two full houses had been amazed and entranced by the vocal agility and showmanship of Kurt Elling, with his impish humour and homage to jazz greats such as Dexter Gordon.

Belgian pianist Jef Neve’s trio took the international honours with lyricism, excitement and daring, closely followed by Tokyo’s Sisia Natuna, who provided an engrossing set with former Melbourne pianist/composer Aaron Choulai.

It would have been good to hear New York-based Portuguese vocalese singer Sara Serpa exploring more diverse territory.

The inventiveness of Australian musicians was highlighted in pianist composer Stu Hunter’s suites The Muse and The Gathering, with trombonist James Greening’s primal solo a monument to brass.

From Perth, Johannes Luebbers conducted a superb dectet in entrancing and original compositions. The Ian Date Quartet delivered delightful hot jazz and the controlled dynamics of Joe Chindamo’s trio took Simon and Garfunkel’s beautiful song America to new heights.

Sunday’s treats included a nostalgic brass outing from Bob Barnard and his UK mate Roy Williams, a sublime Greg Coffin Trio set and an engaging performance by Andrea Keller’s quartet.

Mike Nock, whose quintet opened with energy and ended in glorious disarray, was correct. At Wangaratta Jazz, things happen.

An abridged version of this review appeared in Melbourne’s Herald Sun on Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Roger Mitchell will be posting more festival reviews on ausjazz.net soon.

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WANGARATTA JAZZ 2010 — MIKE NOCK NEW QUINTET

Mike Nock's New Quintet

Mike Nock's New Quintet

GIG: Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre Theatre, Friday, Oct. 29, 8pm

Mike Nock piano, Karl Laskowski tenor sax, Ben Waples acoustic bass, James Waples drums, Phil Slater trumpet

AFTER the vibrant, energetic opening piece, Hop, Skip, Jump, Mike Nock told the audience, “This is jazz. It may seem to be arranged, but things happen. It’s spontaneous. So it’s always going to be new to us.” But this ensemble — yet another group for the irrepressible Nock — was so tight it was hard to believe they had not rehearsed a set script for weeks. Nock can immediately take a piece to a higher level and he did so here, with sweeping vistas and ringing chords to hang suspended.

Slow News Day — was this inspired by the decline of newspapers? — opened with resonant, slow, sustained piano with plenty of space. The mood was wistful, with Phil Slater adding dimension to the sound. Horn notes bent as sax and trumpet interleaved before a fiery Slater solo with sizzling vibrato slowing to a stately finish. James Waples added drama, Ben Waples contributed a strong but melodic solo over Nock’s sensitive chiming chords. Nock lyrically returned the piece to the ensemble and the wistfulness returned.

This post is burbling on and ought to be more concise. After Satie, a tribute to French composer and pianist Eric Alfred Leslie Satie (1866 – 1925) wandered through harmonies, with the horns playing tag and catching each other in a meadow of lush lyricism. The beat built before the horns swept serenity and splendour into the sky. Nock closed with a rainbow.

Well that may have been a bit over the top, but that was the highly subjective imagery that came to mind.

Mike Nock's New Quintet

Mike Nock's New Quintet

In Speak to the Golden Child, deep chords established a grounding that was picked up by bass and drums. This was rhythm driven. Horns built the intensity, piano built the sense of swing and sax drove that further before Slater entered the fray. He was really into it, notes screaming and flaring and squealing out of the trumpet bell. Great instrument. Great player. Nock’s contribution was light but emphatic, his notes touching the top of the swing and dancing along it. Then he was bolder, and the drums seemed to take just a little while to jell, but then it worked. The horns finished it.

Mike Nock knows, as Megg from Bennetts Lane once commented, how to work an audience. He starts with pieces that are accessible, winning hearts and minds before stretching them a little. Choices was the final piece of the set and it took us into that glorious territory that can really be enjoyed if you let go, as if on a rollercoaster. Sax and trumpet opened a dialogue early, the piano attempted to calm, but the horns burst out in rapid fire. There were delightfully robust harmonies in a horn duel, then drum attacks and a dull rumble from piano and bass. It was fragmentary music, with sharp bursts and changing patterns. Eventually the piano lightened proceedings and the horns delicately followed. Melody crept in and the horns echoed it.

Wangaratta Jazz was launched with finesse and verve.

Pictures? Well, the powers that be have banned picture taking in the arts centre venues, though I noticed that was honoured largely in the breach for this concert. I am disappointed that those of us who have silent cameras and do not move about are not given some licence to take a few shots, because this is history. As a reviewer, I also like to look through images to as an aid to my failing memory. Well, we’ll work on that issue.