Tag Archives: Miller’s Crossing


Joe Chindamo

Dynamics: Joe Chindamo

GIG: WPAC theatre, 11am, Saturday, October 30, 2010

Joe Chindamo piano, Phillip Rex acoustic bass, Raj Jayaweera drums

ONE of the must-have albums of the year, at least for fans of the Coen brothers, is Joe Chindamo’s Another Time Some Other Place, on which he re-interprets songs from these films. Chindamo has the ability to distill the essence of a song and deliver a new version that rivals the original. With the trio at Wangaratta he did not play any pieces from that album, but his treatment of Simon and Garfunkel’s America was exemplary.

The trio opened with Have You Met Miss Jones. Deep rumbles gave way to bouncy piano, with little skating runs dipping in and out of harmonies, then light swing when Rex and Jayaweera joined in to build the intensity. As always, Chindamo was right into interaction with the other two, attentive and responsive as he leaned over the keyboard with concentration, making delicate contributions into and over the rhythm. Rex’s robust bass was impressive.

America opened percussively, Chindamo plucking the piano strings as Rex knocked on the wood of the bass. Controlled variations in dynamics were a feature of the whole set and in this piece the trio moved effortlessly into a driving chordal rhythm which was deep, then light. The familiar melody emerged, was taken up strongly and then allowed to slip back into a fragile hint that was allowed to get lost and then be recovered. There is always interest and development in Chindamo’s arrangements. He is an artist at the keyboard.

Phillip Rex

Robust: Phillip Rex

Next we were taken smartly into a foot-tapping version of Gershwin’s It Aint Necessarily So. Chindamo knows swing intimately and can add a single note at times loaded with verve. His hand occasionally hovers over the keyboard, waiting for the moment. He is polished, but is right into the music and does not seem to be showing off. I loved the variations in dynamics and the interplay in the trio evident in this piece.

The trio took a gentle approach to Dolly Parton’s Jolene, then moved into an original Chindamo composition, Something Will Come to Light, for which he won the 2009 APRA Music Award for Jazz Composition of the year. In this and the engrossing piece that followed, the pianist timed his interventions to perfection, choosing the right moments to make his input and how strongly to contribute.

The trio closed with Moon River. The introduction was regal and the phrasing beautiful as the melody flowed in, the intensity swelling for a brief period. After a quiet digression the melody crept back in to feed our nostalgia, Rex and Jayaweera contributing minimally. This piece and the set closed with Chindamo puddling in the highest notes, seemingly lost in the music.

Raj Jayaweera

Attentive: Raj Jayaweera

Some may prefer a less lyrical, romantic approach in a trio, but Chindamo’s skill is a little akin to that of author Peter Carey — the ability to take a story (or a tune) and make it his own. If you doubt this, listen to his versions of the themes from Fargo or Miller’s Crossing.

Rex and Jayaweera were content not to push themselves forward, but were integral to this performance.



Chindamo album

IT would be handy to have some free time after hearing Joe Chindamo‘s album of Coen Brothers film music, because it will almost certainly have you revisiting the films. But the absence of a moving image is no obstacle, freeing Chindamo’s arrangements from expansive requirements of the big screen.

The Fargo theme, on solo piano, suggests so much — the dead quiet of snow, sadness, beauty, emptiness and inevitability. The Miller’s Crossing theme — on piano, Doug De Vries‘s guitar and Nigel MacLean‘s violin — adds definition, clarity and emotion to the original.

Lujon (The Big Lebowski) — with Chindamo also on accordion, and adding Lucky Oceans on pedal steel, Philip Rex on bass, Rajiv Jayaweera on drums and Alex Pertout on percussion — is enhanced by fragility.

What a pleasure it is to hear the wonderfully jaunty, rollicking and deft bluegrass of the Raising Arizona theme, or the slow interpretation of You Are My Sunshine (O Brother, Where Art Thou) combining the resonance of pedal steel with the reverence of accordion.

With Oceans on dobro, Hotel California develops some gentle swing, but for a real swinging number wait for the lightly crafted Man of Constant Sorrow to take off and run.

Chindamo’s ensemble takes us to another delightful place for some considerable time.

File between: Ry Cooder, Paul Grabowsky.
Download: Miller’s Crossing.


Review also published in Sunday Herald Sun on June 13, 2010


ZAC HURREN TRIO at Chapel Off Chapel

 Zac Hurren Trio
Hurren, Anning and Bates

It would have been a great way to end a festival, but on Friday night there was still one night to go. I chose to break the rule about not switching gigs midstream. Usually it’s hard to acclimatise to a change of venue and leaving in a rush to catch another band can be a big mistake. This time it worked out. But it left me with a burning question: How could Sam Anning have played bass with Zac Hurren (saxophone) and Sam Bates (drums) at the Chapel, and then dash to Malvern Town Hall for a complete change of mood, playing with Joe Chindamo‘s ensemble? I’d have liked to ask him what went on inside his head as he moved from one gig to the next.

 Zac Hurren Trio
Hurren, Anning and Bates

Anyway, I have no time to beat about the bush, so this is the gist of it: Zac and the two Sams were faaannnnntastic! Absolutely on fire. Brilliant. Hurren said he usually stands by the trees and plays by himself, and that was how he wanted to start. It was a short warm-up solo and then the trio was off and running.

 Zac Hurren Trio
Hurren and Anning

What was so good about it? It’s still in my head, but I’m not sure I can easily explain. It was cathartic. It was a physical experience. But I don’t want to give the idea that Hurren just blasted away and filled the Chapel with noise, or that Bates smashed and crashed on the drums, or that Anning drove his bass notes remorselessly through the audience. There was an element of that, but all three displayed much more sensitivity than that. They played as a unit and were totally cohesive. The result was primal and managed to penetrate deep into the body and into the soul. Bates displayed great finesse and sensitivity, Hurren and Anning were a tangible force brimming with emotion.

 Zac Hurren Trio
Hurren, Anning and Bates

They played Hurren’s compositions Joffra, Conveyance (written the night before the funeral of saxophonist and teacher Tony Hobbs ), a newish track the name of which I did not catch, and Mark’s Mansion (written to represent saxophonist Mark Simmonds‘s defence of jazz against the forces of evil). They wanted to play more, but had to stop. I wanted more but had to go. And of course Sam Anning had to slip into the Stonnington stretch limo and wind down for a few minutes before joining Joe Chindamo on stage for the second set at Malvern Town Hall.

 Zac Hurren Trio
Hurren, Anning and Bates

A quick note: The gigs I missed — Ted Vining‘s Impressions and Tina Harrod — deserve mention, but I could not make it. And I’d heard Tina Harrod at Bennetts Lane recently. She was great there, so I’m sure her set was enjoyed by all. On to the town hall …

at Malvern Town Hall

Joe Chindamo

I can’t do this concert justice either, but a few sentences for now. It was the inaugural performance of the Coen Brothers material, and an album launch for Another Place, Some Other Time. Chindamo has assembled Lucky Oceans on pedal steel guitar, Geoff Hughes on guitars, Kristian Winther on violin, Sam Anning (again) on (yes) acoustic bass, Raj Jayaweera buried behind on drums and Alex Pertout also in the back on percussion.

Kristian Winther

 Geoff Hughes
Geoff Hughes

Winther was exquisite on violin, Oceans added something special on pedal steel and Hughes was, as always, most expressive. Chindamo’s piano has the presence and sense of space, as well as a classical feel, to capture and hold us in a moment (or many) of beauty.

 Chindamo, Oceans
Joe Chindamo and Lucky Oceans

 Lucky Oceans
Lucky Oceans

In the seconds before I fall into a coma from lack of sleep, the standouts for me were the theme from Fargo (as interpreted by Chindamo, of course), Man of Constant Sorrow (from O’ Brother Where Art Thou?), Lujon from The Big Lebowski, and the theme from Miller’s Crossing. Later, You Are My Sunshine was divine, with Chindamo on accordion and Oceans on pedal steel. Earlier Oceans played slide guitar on Hotel California (The Big Lebowski), but you had to wait for the familiar melody to drift through.

Kristian Winther

After the theme from Blood Simple, Joe played a solo piano encore, Goodnight Sweetheart (I should have known, but had to be told).

 Anning, Winther
Sam Anning and Kristian Winther

It was not my favourite Stonnington venue, but this was a beautiful concert and a fitting tribute to films in which music plays a big part. Chindamo’s take on the Coen Brothers’ film music was entrancing. There was no need for any moving images.