Tag Archives: Nola’s Ark

HEAR A SONG WRITTEN DURING INTERVAL

Monique diMattina

Monique diMattina                (Image supplied)

CONCERTS PREVIEW: Monique diMattina performs two concerts in one day at Melbourne Recital Centre on Friday 29 November, at 1pm (solo piano) and 8pm (Songs and stomps from New Orleans)

It’s a busy time for Monique diMattina, who is just back from the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, where she co-presented Singer, Songwriter, Storyteller with long-time collaborators Clare Bowditch and Tommy Spender.

Before that she presented a set at the Cup Eve concert to wind up this year’s Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues.

Soon, diMattina will perform on Thursday, 12 December, as part of the Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club.

She has also just begun a fortnightly segment on Lindy Burns evening show on ABC radio’s 774 , writing a song in an hour based on listener requests.

Using this well-honed skill, diMattina will similarly write a song during the interval of her evening concert on Friday, 29 November at MRC, utilising the 30-minute break to write a new piece in response to audience requests in the first half. What a buzz.

But that’s jumping ahead. There will be two diMattina concerts for the day:

1pm in The Salon, MRC, Solo Piano

This lunchtime concert will feature piano miniatures from diMattina’s albums Senses and Sun Signs as she explores her quieter side.

8pm in The Salon, MRC: Songs & Stomps from New Orleans

Joined by an all-star band of jazz and roots musicians, including guitar virtuoso Doug de Vries and R&B sax legend, Paul Williamson, diMattina will dip into her critically acclaimed 2013 release Monique diMattina in New Orleans: Nola’s Ark, which was recorded in New Orleans, with musicians from the bands of Harry Connick Jr and Dr John.

The MRC bills this concert as follows: “The humour, wit and charm of Melbourne pianist/chanteuse Monique diMattina unfolds note by note in this rambunctious collection of songs from her fifth album Nola’s Ark. Following a sell-out debut at Stonnington Jazz, this is a not-to-be missed event that showcases the cream of the Melbourne jazz/roots scene – fusing contemporary themes with a good time New Orleans sensibility.”

Nola’s Ark draws inspiration from traditional jazz, blues and R&B.

For more on Monique, read SHAKEN AND A LITTLE BIT REHEARSED on Ausjazz.

ROGER MITCHELL

MUSICIANS WHO MOVE

Gerald Clayton

Gerald Clayton                          Picture: Ben Wolf

Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival, November 1-4, 2013

This preview covers a lot of ground, with the aim of letting people know what is on offer. The joy of a festival such as Wangaratta is that patrons can take risks and dip into unfamiliar territory.

JAZZ PROGRAM PREVIEW

Music moves us, musicians move us and musicians move. So many times when we read the biographies of favourite musicians, we find they have made leaps to new places and new music communities — sometimes returning home eventually, sometimes not.

On a recent Sunday night at Melbourne’s Uptown Jazz Café, pianist Marc Hannaford played two sets at a farewell gig before leaving for at least five years in New York. He invited musician friends and colleagues to sit in. It was a great way to celebrate a big move in his life and career.

This year’s Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues brings us many artists who have made significant moves to new places as their music developed.

As in previous years, many of the musicians are expatriate Australians. The line-up, carefully crafted by artistic director Adrian Jackson, raises the (admittedly immaterial) question of how long a local musician has to be living overseas before being classified as an international artist.

In a year when piano is the chosen instrument for the National Jazz Awards, it is fitting that the headline artist will be thrice Grammy-nominated young US pianist Gerald Clayton, who has attracted attention as a rising star in a trio with Joe Sanders on bass and Justin Brown on drums. On this visit Pete Van Nostrand  will be at the drum kit.

Clayton was born in Amsterdam, grew up in Los Angeles and now lives in New York. His trio’s third album, Life Forum, was due for release in Australia by Universal on September 2.

Clayton will spend some time working with Monash University music students before the festival, so a few students could well end up with the trio on stage for one concert. Here is a sample.

Chris McNulty

Chris McNulty      (Picture supplied)

Among the expatriate internationals making the trip to Wangaratta will be vocalist Chris McNulty, who has been based in New York since 1988, and this year won Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album for The Song That Sings You Here.

McNulty, who was in Melbourne for the Jazz Bell Awards, will perform with her partner, guitarist/composer Paul Bollenback, and bassist Ugonna Okegwo, both from New York, in The Magic Trio, a drumless collaboration they have shared since 2000. Bollenback will also lead a trio with Okegwo and Perth-based drummer Daniel Susnjar, who played with Paul when he was in the USA last year.

McNulty will also re-establish a link from her early days in a band with pianist/composer Paul Grabowsky, joined by Frank Di Sario on bass and Mike Jordan on drums.

Expatriate international Barney McAll is no stranger to Wangaratta. In 2011 he brought a choir and large ensemble to the festival stage for Graft, but this year he will appear solo and in a trio.

In what promises to be real treat, McAll will take to the Holy Trinity Cathedral stage to explore some of the gospel music he regularly performs on Sundays at a church in Brooklyn. Anyone who heard McAll’s three solo pieces during the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative 30th Anniversary Concert on January 27 this year at The Edge, Federation Square, will look forward to hearing more.

McAll, who described the Wangaratta festival as “the bohemian grove of Australian jazz”, told organisers he would be playing some spirituals and new solo pieces, including a preview “of my first solo piano recording, which will be called Every Piano Needs A House In It”.

Joining McAll in his Non-Compliance Trio will be friends Jonathan Zwartz on bass and Hamish Stuart on drums.

Another Australian export, guitarist/composer Peter O’Mara left Sydney for New York in 1981, moved to Munich the following year and has lived in Germany and, more recently, Austria for 30 years. Last at Wangaratta in 2002, O’Mara will lead his quartet from Vienna in what Jackson describes as music “on the jazz side of jazz-rock fusion, very electronic, funky and pretty exciting”. Expect a mix of what O’Mara describes as “modern jazz, odd-metre fusion and groove”, in which expat American Tim Collins on vibes shares melodies with the guitar. Here is a sample.

More of the European input so vital to any festival will come from Dutch trumpet player Eric Vloeimans, who uses an electronic attachment on his instrument and, with his quartet Gatecrash, will also bring a fusion and funk emphasis. Expect a range from jazz to world, electro-funk and “contemplative soundscapes that are punctuated by a touch of wackiness”.

Jef Neve

Jef Neve

Belgian pianist Jef Neve was most recently at Wangaratta in 2010 with his trio (see Ausjazz’s rave review), but this time will play solo piano as part of a world tour. Neve regards the piano as an orchestral instrument — “Everything is present: choir, strings, woodwinds, brass and, of course, percussion” — and says the “soul and sound of the instrument” is his main source of inspiration in his classically influenced playing.

Froy Aagre

Froy Aagre         (Picture supplied)

Norwegian saxophonist Froy Aagre performed at Wangaratta in 2009 with members of the Brisbane band Misinterprotato, now known as Trichotomy, who she met at Canada’s Banff Jazz Workshop in 2005. Sean Foran (electric piano) and John Parker (drums) from Trichotomy will join Aagre to present her new electric repertoire, which she says “fuses new electronic sounds into melodic, groove-based jazz” and is “a way to communicate joy to the audience”.

AUSTRALIAN ARTISTS

That pretty much covers the FIFO (fly in fly out) jazz and improvised music performers, but the line-up of Australians at Wangaratta this year is so extensive and exciting that it is arguable they could carry the festival.

Sydney pianist and composer Mike Nock will join reedsman Julien Wilson, whose playing recently has been outstanding, and guitarist Steve Magnusson will re-visit the trio that was so successful in May at Stonnington Jazz.

Barney McAll’s presence will enable two CD launches. Bassist Jonathan Zwartz will bring his nine-piece band together for the first time since the recording of The Remembering and Forgetting of the Air, which features McAll, Magnusson, Phil Slater on trumpet, Wilson on tenor, James Greening on trombone and sousaphone, Richard Maegraith on tenor and bass clarinet, Hamish Stuart on drums and Fabian Hevia on percussion. With this material and this line-up, no one should miss this.

McAll will also join Zwartz, Allan Browne on drums and Wilson — Julien recording for the first time in a classic tenor sax quartet — to launch their album of mostly standards, mostly ballads entitled This Is Always.

Julien Wilson, Sam Anning, Allan Browne

Julien Wilson, Sam Anning, Allan Browne

In another launch not to be missed (I know this because there was a recent preview at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club), expatriate bassist Sam Anning will join Wilson and Browne to celebrate Sweethearts, an absolutely entrancing album that serendipitously was recorded when Anning, over from New York, was delayed in Melbourne by a US visa problem, for which we all should be eternally grateful.

Expat drummer Raj Jayaweera, also be back from New York for the festival, will form the house band with Anning for the National Jazz Awards piano recitals.

The plethora of Australian jazz musicians in New York will be further depleted by the departure to Wangaratta of trombonist Shannon Barnett, who will reconvene her quartet — Nash Lee guitar, Chris Hale bass guitar and Hugh Harvey drums — and also launch a new band, U.nlock, with vocalist Gian Slater, Sam Anning and Raj Jayaweera with material the four worked on in New York recently. A key feature of U.nlock will be “voice and trombone sharing both the lead and accompanying roles”, Slater says.

Barnett will also perform as part of clarinettist and vocalist Barry Wratten’s New Orleans Pelicans with Michael McQuaid on trumpet and reeds, Steve Grant on piano, John Scurry on guitar and banjo, Howard Cairns or Leigh Barker (Saturday morning) on bass and Lynn Wallis on drums.

The much-missed trombonist will also assemble Dixie Jack, a local version of Ragstretch, a band with whom she has played in Denmark consisting of Copenhagen-based expat clarinet player and vocalist Chris Tanner, known for his classic jazz work with Julien Wilson in the band Virus, and guitarist Craig Fermanis, Sam Anning and Raj Jayaweera. Dixie Jack, consisting of Barnett, Wilson, Anning and Jayaweera, will play traditional jazz.

Classic jazz is well represented this year. Melbourne band the Sugarfoot Ramblers is led by Travis Woods on trumpet, with Jason Downes on reeds and graduates or current students of the jazz course at Monash University who share a fondness for New Orleans Jazz. Others in the line-up are James Macaulay trombone, Brett Thompson banjo and guitar, Marty Holoubek bass and Daniel Berry drums. From Sydney, The Cope Street Parade and The Finer Cuts, who have recorded with experienced trumpeter Geoff Bull, will also add their traditional jazz sounds. Allan Browne will join the Finer Cuts, who usually don’t perform with a drummer, for one session.

The Wangaratta festival always draws musicians from across the country, providing a relatively rare opportunity for them to share the stage. The exciting sextet led by Melbourne’s Paul Grabowsky will feature Jamie Oehlers from Perth on tenor and Sydney musicians James Greening on trombone, Andrew Robson on alto, Cameron Undy on bass and Simon Barker on drums. This band has recorded an album it hopes to release at the festival.

Satsuki Odamara

Satsuki Odamura, Paul Williamson and Peter Knight.

Another certain hit, Peter Knight’s band Way Out West, now features Sydney-based koto player, Satsuki Odamura, along with Melburnians Lucas Michailidis on guitar and Hugh Harvey on drums as well as founding members, Peter Knight on trumpet, flugelhorn, Paul Williamson on saxophones, Howard Cairns on bass and Ray Pereira on percussion.

And Melbourne vocalist Gian Slater will team with Perth saxophonist Jamie Oehlers and Melburnians Paul Grabowsky on piano, Ben Robertson on bass and Dave Beck on drums in The Differences to play material from the album of that name.

Two concerts enjoyed by patrons of Stonnington Jazz in May will also be on the Wangaratta program. Red Fish Blue is an alliance of two musicians from Melbourne, pianist Sam Keevers and percussionist Javier Fredes, with two from Sydney, bassist Brett Hirst and drummer Simon Barker. And vocalist Josh Kyle and Keevers will perform Songs of Friends, which are their interpretations of songs by Australian singers/composers.

The Cup Eve Concert will feature Joe Chindamo with his trio and Monique Di Mattina performing music from her recent album Nola’s Ark, which is a jazz blues hybrid.

AUSJAZZ RECOMMENDATIONS

This preview covers a lot of ground, with the aim of letting people know what is on offer. The joy of a festival such as Wangaratta is that patrons can take risks and dip into unfamiliar territory.

In case it helps, the following are the concerts that I’d be keen not to miss:

  • Barney McAll’s solo piano in Holy Trinity on Sunday, November 3 at 3pm
  • Jef Neve solo piano, WPAC Theatre, Sunday, Nov 3 at 1pm
  • Launch of Jonathan Zwartz album The Remembering and Forgetting of the Air, Friday, Nov 1, WPAC Theatre
  • Launch of McAll/Wilson/Zwartz/Browne album This Is Always, WPAC Memorial Hall, Saturday, Nov 2 at 2.30pm
  • Launch of Wilson/Anning/Browne album Sweethearts, WPAC Memorial Hall, Saturday, November 2 at 4.30pm
  • Barnett and Slater’s U.nlock, WPAC Memorial Hall, Sunday, Nov 3 at 2.30pm
  • Paul Grabowsky Sextet, WPAC Theatre, Sunday, Nov 3 at 10.30pm
  • Way Out West, WPAC Theatre, Saturday, Nov 2, 11am

ROGER MITCHELL

Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues

 

SHAKEN AND A LITTLE BIT REHEARSED

Monique diMattina

Monique diMattina        (Image supplied)

ARTICLE

Ausjazz blog takes a look at how singer/songwriter Monique diMattina has taken some song ideas through customs, taken a flight overseas, and come home with a new album

It’s an intriguing and original way to record an album: Take an idea provided by someone else, spend 45 minutes writing lyrics and a melody, carry those ideas on a plane to New Orleans, team up with some fine musicians and lay down the tracks at Piety Street in the Bywater.

That’s how Monique diMattina made her fourth album, Nola’s Ark, on a pilgrimage to New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA to the locals) when she was 20 weeks pregnant.

The imaginative approach to song writing is not new for diMattina, who appears weekly on Tim Thorpe’s 3-RRR program Vital Bits for her Shaken Not Rehearsed segment, in which she writes and performs a song within an hour, based on listener’s requests.

The gestation of the second track on Nola’s Ark, Dig A Hole, is an example of how this creative and courageous process works.

First, there’s the challenge, issued by diMattina over the radio waves: “I’m here to write a song, every Sunday, so at 7.45 the challenge is out there. Call in and give me an idea and I’ll run off and write it.”

Then comes the idea.

A listener rings in: “I want to have my Saturday morning lovin’, but I’ve got to go out and dig trenches because of all the rain.

diMattina: “Oh, don’t you hate that.”

Listener: “I had to, yesterday.”

diMattina: “So you want your Saturday morning lovin’, you have to get out from under the doona, put on your … “

Listener: “Get the shovel out of the shed, and dig trenches down the side of the house so little rivers will escape my property.”

diMattina: “And who’re we talking to?”

Listener: “Greg

The delivery: In 39 minutes, diMattina has lyrics and a melody for Dig A Hole For Love.

It starts like this:

Come on babe hug me ‘coz I’m feeling all right

It’s warm under the covers gonna take you for a ride
She says “Hold on baby what you tryin to do?
you knooow I can’t stay and get hot with you –
cos the water’s risin, so quit your cryin and
Pick up a shovel dig a hole for love

This is a familiar routine for diMattina at 3RRR. On her website, she explains:

“Assuming I arrive on time, listeners call in 7.45am with a song idea. I hole myself up in Studio B, pray to the song gods, align my chakras with a complex ritual involving caffeine … and more caffeine … and receive whatever chaff they throw me.

“Some time just before 9am I play the fresh-born song live to air, coughing, spluttering, covered in vernix, but usually alive.”

Another caller, Rick, rang in after a Melbourne summer downpour wanting a song about the release of rain on the dry, dry earth. He had a property in Gippsland.

“I was struggling a bit, Tim,” diMattina says on air.

“It just felt like a bit of a boring song about rain and stuff and then I remembered the feeling, when I was living in Harlem when Obama came in, and Rick said, if release had a smell that the smell of the earth after rain would be it. And that started to strike a nerve with me, so that helped me along.”

The result was the song Bring On the Rain.

diMattina does not shy away from serious topics. Her song Godzilla is a response to a request from Steven, who had been watching footage of the devastation caused by 2011’s earthquake and tsunami on Japan and its nuclear reactors. He likened the images to Godzilla stomping across Japan.

As diMattina originally sang Godzilla on Triple R, she did without her piano “in solidarity with our friends in Japan”.

At Piety Street, the line-up for Nola’s Ark was diMattina on vocals, piano, Wurlitzer and Hammond organ, Leroy Jones on trumpet, Rex Gregory on clarinet, Loren Pickford on sax, June Yamagishi on guitars, Matt Perrine on acoustic bass and sousaphone, Eric Bolivar on drum, Richard Scott on accordion and Anthony Cuccia on percussion.

The talented ensemble is used to good effect on the five hastily written and four other originals, plus standards Young at Heart (Richards/Leigh), Let’s Do Something Bad (Matt Munisteri), I’ll Be Seeing You (Sammy Fain/Irving Kahal) and Numb Fumblin’ (Fats Waller).

If it seems surprising that songs written on the run could work so well when taken into a New Orleans studio with musicians new to the composer, it’s worth taking on board diMattina’s long affection for the music from NOLA.

In her album notes, she writes that all her life she has “loved and lived off the sounds and spirits of this swamp, that cross time, swim seas, pump blood for dancing, singing, crying winging, for suffering, truth, for soothing, sneaky grooves that move and woo”.

It would be interesting to know whether the five people who rang in with their ideas to Triple R are aware that they inspired a song that would be recorded overseas. And diMattina’s approach to composing raises the possibility of jazz fans turning up at gigs with a riff or two they want turned into a tune to be played on the night.

If instrumental “jazz karaoke” does take off, you heard it here first.

ROGER MITCHELL

CD-BABY-Nolas-Ark-cd-cover-300x

Nola’s Ark is being launched on Friday 24 May at Chapel Off Chapel as part of a Stonnington Jazz concert with singer/pianist, Kate Kelsey-Sugg.

Joining Monique will be six Australian musicians who are guaranteed to help her launch the album with verve and panache: Eamon McNelis (trumpet, vocals), Stephen Grant (accordion), Paul Williamson (saxophone), Doug de Vries (guitar), Howard Cairns (sousaphone, bass) and Tony Floyd (drums).

Monique diMattina studied at the VCA in the mid 90s, then studied and worked in the US. Her earlier albums are Senses (2007 Elwood Records), Welcome Stranger (2010 Head Records) and Sun Signs (2011 Head Records).

Nola’s Ark is released on Jazzhead.

Monique diMattina has some of her Triple R songs on her website.

Monique diMattina

Monique diMattina       (Image supplied)