Tag Archives: Nick Martyn

THE END BEGINS, AN ENCORE ENDS

Kneebody

Kneebody at The Forum: Ben Wendel sax, Nate Wood drums, Kaveh Rastegar bass, Shane Endsley trumpet and Adam Benjamin Fender Rhodes.

 

MINI REVIEW

The End / Kneebody (US), The Forum Upstairs on Sunday 2 June 2013 at 7pm, Melbourne International Jazz Festival

The End

The End plus

The crowd was noticeably younger at The Forum Upstairs for this gig, and expectations were high for the genre-bending five-piece US band Kneebody, billed as combining “the depth of jazz, the swagger of hip-hop and the conviction of rock” in a “no holds barred brand of musical expression”. Well, we all know the writers of festival blurbs can get a little carried away, but the second set was likely to be exciting.

But before that we had a concert beginning with The End, playing compositions by guitarist band leader Tim Willis and with Kneebody’s Shane Endsley as a guest on trumpet. One tiny gripe I have was that MIJF artistic director Michael Tortoni — who must be fairly busy — did not introduce The End until the beginning of the second set (that’s the end of those beginning and end references BTW). It seems reasonable for any band worthy of playing at this major festival to be introduced before they play, but I’m probably old fashioned.

The End opened as if The Forum Upstairs was on fire and only the vigour of its musical output could extinguish the flames. But as the set evolved it was clear that the compositions were taking us to more interesting places than loud rock-infused vibes. After the Eugene Ball and Mark Helias compositions played at this venue earlier in the day, I was looking for variation, development and unpredictability to maintain interest as well as inspire admiration in the musicianship. Willis’s quintet plus Endsley delivered that — I found that I enjoyed each piece more as the set progressed.

Endsley’s playing certainly added significantly to the line-up, but the standout players on the night for The End were Willis, Nick Martyn on drums and Gareth Hill on bass.

Kneebody

Kneebody

Kneebody has been together for 12 years and it shows. The band’s musicianship was exemplary — in other words, they could play. Their work was tight and virtuosic. Kaveh Rastegar was engaging as spokesman.

Their compositions, many by keyboard player Adam Benjamin, included rhythmic repetition, layered landscapes of sound, psychedelia, intensely percussive periods, attacks with mounting intensity and the lush, sustained feel that the Fender Rhodes can deliver. High Noon had an energetic, pumped up Bill Frisell feel to it. They played with some clapping, fiddled with pedals on sax and trumpet feeds that enabled recording and playback on the run, and they had dry ice “smoke”.  This was pretty slick for a jazz gig, and lots of fun as well. The audience loved the set and called on an encore.

There is a tiny “but”. In the end, I felt that this talented quintet played material that did not take us on a journey quite as interesting as did the compositions tackled by The End. What was missing? Well, I suspect Kneebody was delivering exactly the music that their fans expected, but I’d like to have seen more interesting exchanges between instruments — jousting, if you like, or challenges issued and answered. It was almost as if the conversation was as expected, rather than there being a surprise or twist popping up to create electricity.

Kaveh Rastegar thanked Graham Wood, co-owner of the Ellington Jazz Club in Perth and a key figure in the recent inaugural Perth International Jazz Festival, for inviting Kneebody to Australia. We all should thank him as well.

GALLERY: Pictures from this gig

ROGER MITCHELL

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THE END IS NIGH

The End

The End

PREVIEW: World premiere of Tim Willis’s suite Night & Day at Bennetts Lane, 8pm Saturday 1 June as part of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival

Amid the excitement of international artists arriving for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, which starts tonight (31 May) , it is easy for significant contributions by Australian musicians to slip under the radar.

This year special treats from local musicians include the world premieres on Saturday 1 June of guitarist Tim Willis’s Night and Day, and on Monday
3 June of the Allan Browne Trio’s Lost in the Stars, inspired by the Zodiac Suites of composers Mary Lou Williams and Karlheinz Stockhausen. These should be marked as concerts not to be missed.

Australian quartet Red Fish Blue, which delighted the Chapel Off Chapel audience during the recent Stonnington Jazz festival, will launch its second album, The Sword and the Brush, on Sunday 2 June at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, followed by a separate concert that night in which Jordan Murray on trombone and Paul Williamson on trumpet will join the Rob Burke and Tony Gould Quartet.

Solo in Red

Kynan Robinson and Adam Simmons in “Solo in Red” at The Salon, MRC.

As well, on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 June at 6pm, and Saturday 8 June at 3pm and 6pm, Jazz in the Salon at MRC will feature composer/percussionist Alastair Kerr’s new suite The Archer and the Dancer with Panorama do Brasil, and composer Kynan Robinson’s Solo in Red — a musical exploration of the sparseness and fragility of Cormac McCarthy’s writing — performed by Melbourne sextet Collider. Liza Power wrote about Solo in Red in The Age in August last year.

Last year’s MIJF premiered Tamara Murphy‘s entrancing suite “Big Creatures Little Creatures: The Modular Suite”, performed by Murphy’s Law. Murphy was the 2012 winner of the PBS Young Elder of Jazz Award, which includes $10,000 towards the commissioning and presentation of a new jazz composition.

The aim of the commission is to “provide support for composers at a pivotal point in their career, and to encourage creative flair and distinction in the jazz idiom”. The PBS Young Elder of Jazz Commission is made possible through the support of Mark Newman.

Guitarist/composer Tim Willis is this year’s winner of the award. His band
The End will present Night & Day at Bennett’s Lane at 8pm on Saturday before PBS 106.7FM broadcasts the full work at 9am on Jazz on Saturday hosted by Jim McLeod on 8 June. Tickets are available from Bennetts Lane Jazz Club  or 9663 2856

The End is Tim Willis on guitar, Jon Crompton on alto sax, John Felstead on tenor sax, Gareth Hill on bass and Nick Martyn on drums. The band is known for its original take on jazz-rock.

Night & Day, which will draw on the work of minimalist composers is described as “a study in human emotions” with five movements that “explore emotional transformation and renewal, with subtly interwoven themes acting as a showcase for solo and group improvisation”.

The End has released two albums — the self-titled debut CD and Keep Your Chin Up. The band’s music has been described as being “steeped in the jazz tradition” but bringing “a rock edge that speaks to those who grew up listening to and loving Radiohead and Soundgarden”.

John McBeath, in The Australian, wrote that “This band presents a uniquely satisfying, high energy blend of jazz and rock ideas without subtracting from either genre”. Ron Spain, in Australian Jazz Scene, wrote “If this is the beginning of The End, then one eagerly anticipates the hereafter”.

ROGER MITCHELL