Tag Archives: Paul Cutlan


Captain (Ellen) Kirkwood

Captain Ellen Kirkwood (image supplied)

GIG PREVIEWS: Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, December 11 and 16, 9pm

Sydney launched the Australian jazz community’s attack on misogyny after Julia Gillard’s famous speech, but before Melbs took up the baton this year, but the balance is now being redressed in an onslaught helped along by three women trumpet players. I say “Yay!” to that.

Jessica Carlton

Trumpet player Jessica Carlton (image supplied)

The Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival — which Jeremy Jankie tells me began on 9 December when Andrea Keller and Genevieve Lacey were featured in Three Lanes, continued on 10 December with Margie Lou Dyer’s tribute to Bessie Smith, Lil Hardin, Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington, featuring bassist Tamara Murphy and a premiere performance by talented young trumpeter Jessica Carlton — continues tonight (December 11) when Captain Kirkwood performs at Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne at 8.30pm. Tonight’s gig is a joint presentation by the festival and the Melbourne Jazz Cooperative.

Captain Kirkwood performs.

Captain Kirkwood performs (image supplied)

The band leader is young trumpet player/composer/band leader Ellen Kirkwood, who is the latest recipient of the Jann Rutherford Memorial Award, which assists in the professional development of outstanding young female Australian jazz musicians.

Her line-up comprises Paul Cutlan (saxophones and clarinets), Glenn Doig (piano), New Zealand bassist Tom Botting and Alon Ilsar (drums).

Kirkwood has written an ‘epic’ 40-minute composition inspired by the classic Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, with narration by Ketan Joshi. Their second set will be full of original pieces by Kirkwood and other band members in an evening of what they describe as “dark, weird and grooving jazz”.

Part 2 of Kirkwood’s “Theseus and the Minotaur” suite was recently recorded at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

A young woman trumpet player is also listed to play in this year’s outing by the Women’s Festival Sextet, also co-sponsored by the MJC at Bennetts Lane on Sunday, December 16.

According to the Bennetts Lane website, emerging new talent and VCA graduate and trumpet player Audrey Boyle (who I am told is in Germany) may join Emma Gilmartin (vocals) and Fran Swinn (guitar) along with the sextet’s core rhythm section members Andrea Keller (piano), Tamara Murphy (bass) and Sonja Horbelt (drums) in a performance of original compositions most band members.

Anyone who missed the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival this year should make a point of being at this gig, if only because Keller and Murphy — who each aired significant suites on that occasion — may well unveil some more fantastic pieces. Fran Swinn — known for her spectacular APRA-commissioned piece at last year’s Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival — may even bring a circus aerialist, though I doubt there would be room on this occasion.

Patrons will also have a chance to quiz Sonja Horbelt about what may pop up on the program at the 2013 Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival.

And now, given my proven inability to accurately record the gigs forming part of the MWIJF, I’ll return to repairing windows, filling and sanding.

Other MIJF gigs at Bennetts Lane, as far as I can tell, are as follows:

Olivia Chindamo with Joe Chindamo Trio, Wednesday 12 December 2012, 8:30pm

Marialy Pacheco Trio, Thursday 13 December 2012, 8:30pm (CD Launch)

Chantal Mitvalsky Band, Friday 14 December 2012, 8:30pm

Michelle Nicolle and Paul Williamson Quartet, Saturday 15 December at 8.30pm

Xani Kolac and The Twoks, Saturday 15 December at 8.30pm




Boggy Creek Bop

Boggy Creek Bop

4 stars

IS there such a thing as too much sax? Yes, if you’re not in the mood, but in this debut by saxophone quartet SNAP that is not likely.

US record producer George Coppens believed saxes should be heard only in groups of four, but that limitation has not curbed the creativity and inventiveness of this outing.

New York expatriate Phillip Johnston (soprano, alto) joins Sydney’s Sandy Evans (tenor), Paul Cutlan (alto) and Nick Bowd (baritone) to convey many moods and styles.

Evans’s Five Portraits of Bellingen suite includes the wonderfully evocative Dawn Over Gumbaynggirr Country and the lively fun of Urungatang and Street Party.
Johnston’s pensive Reviled will be deeply valued, as will this thoroughly saxy album.

File between: Gest8, Ten Part Invention
Download: Reviled, Street Party


Review also published in Play liftout of Sunday Herald Sun, Melbourne, on December 5, 2010.



Charles Lloyd

What a joy it was to spend a peaceful hour in a small group at BMW Edge for Charles Lloyd‘s masterclass. A few times Lloyd asked whether anyone wanted to play something, but no one volunteered and he talked about life, his life and mentors, and music. I had intended to take a few notes, but instead it seemed right to relax, listen and take many photos. Lloyd’s face is lively and changeable. When a topic really takes his fancy, his face glows with enthusiasm.

It was a privilege to meet Charles Lloyd, shake his hand and chat for a while.

Here’s another picture, but the colour balance is a bit odd:

Charles Lloyd

A tribute by Paul Grabowsky and the Australian Art Orchestra

ON Wednesday night Miles Davis returned, but The Prince of Darkness did a quick costume change at Melbourne Town Hall, emerging after interval a changed musician. Grabowsky and the AAO were never going to offer a pedestrian tribute to Davis, but adventurous compositions by Anthony Pateras and Phillip Rex must have sent some fans home clutching at remnants of their comfort zones.

Grabowsky, always the consummate host, ushered us into three pieces from 1949 arranged for Davis by Gil Evans and played on this occasion by a Birth of Cool nonette. They opened with Boplicity, then Eugene Ball sounded iridescent in the luminous Moonbeams, followed by the sharp, electric Move, on which James Greening‘s trombone was spot-on.

Phil Slater plays Miles
Phil Slater plays Miles

Then came a festival highlight that was a rival to the Charles Lloyd New Quartet experience. Grabowsky conducted the talent-laden AAO in the first part of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto De Arunjuez from Sketches of Spain, arranged by Gil Evans and orchestrated by Eugene Ball. Percussion and a sweeping orchestral passage ushered in soloist Phil Slater as Miles in a beautifully measured performance. Adrian Sherriff on bass trombone provided fantastic depth, Scott Tinkler and Paul Williamson joined Ball on trumpets and Stephen Magnusson on guitar seemed to find just the right time to play a few significant chords. The orchestra created magnificently sweeping vistas, and Ball’s muted horn was light and ethereal.

Any Miles fans would have been convinced of his return, on this night, in this place.

Tony Williams — drummer with Miles Davis Quartet from the mid to late sixties — composed Black Comedy (from Miles in the Sky), which Grabowsky, who was the arranger for this outing, said “changes meter constantly”. This was a change to punchy, spiky music. Erkki Veltheim on violin and Sandy Evans were featured, and there were solos from Paul Cutlan on sax and Simon Barker on drums. Energetic stuff, but no real preparation for what was to come after interval.

Tomlinson, Tinkler and Veltheim
Tomlinson, Tinkler and Veltheim

First up was a world premiere of Anthony Pateras’ composition Ontetradecagon, which he said arose from the idea that at the time of On the Corner being released in 1971, Miles was exposed to electronic pieces by Stockhausen. Pateras saw the album as having “the sound of someone going outside their comfort zone”, so he set out to feel “as unsafe as possible” in this project. He cut sections of On the Corner tracks to make 70 loops on a Revox B77 tape machine, considering these “plunderphonic” and drawing on James Tenney’s Blue Suede, which also used tape.

(The term plunderphonic had been new to me until last week, during the Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival, when the NMIT Laptop Orchestra played Adrian Sherriff’s Study No. 2 (For Jan Stole Who), the title an anagram of John Oswald, of Plunderphonic fame, whose work it plundered.)

Pateras worked the loops into a 20-minute tape, then made sure the pitches from the loops matched what he was calling on the ensemble to produce, so that both live music and tape input were of equal importance. Pateras had six sub-groups of players, so that some were playing from the sides and back of the space.

So how did it work in practice? Vanessa Tomlinson, Scott Tinkler and Erkki Veltheim launched the piece in almost complete darkness, offering subdued growls, blaring notes and high-pitched spikes. Later reeds came in from the right, and tuba with trombones from the left. The reeds and ‘bones echoed Tinkler’s high spikes, and Veltheim contributed a similarly high-pitched shimmer. I was wishing for lower pitches.

At one stage the hall seemed to be full of chattering monkeys, agitated insects. A bass clarinet started munching before more lush chatter and then machinegun runs of sound. There was agitation, wailing, sirens or mournful wails — a sense of urgency before some slow, sweeping brass took over. Clearly conveyed in the dark came a sound akin to masticating for us to chew on. The agitation continued. There was bustle and unrest and mayhem.

The piece finished. Was Miles still in the audience, or had he left the building?

Phillip Rex as DJ Davis
Phillip Rex as DJ Davis

Maybe he had slipped out to a rave party, or to find some drugs. That would have suited the final contribution for the night, Phillip Rex’s work Black Satin, which he led from his laptop in centre stage. He had the facility to bring in instruments at will and vary their input from the laptop live as the musicians on stage made their contribution. Rex acknowledged after the gig that this piece would probably work better in a setting where people could dance or move freely to the music.

Paul Williamson and Elliott Dalgleish
Paul Williamson and Elliott Dalgleish

There did not seem to be a direct or indirect connection to Miles, but Grabowsky did say it was appropriate to ask “If he were alive, what would Miles Davis be doing now?” Maybe hip-hop and rave parties would be his scene.

I like to be stretched and these works after interval did that. I found Pateras’s work easier to warm to than Rex’s piece, mainly because more happened and it never lacked interest. But my pick of the night by far was the music from Sketches of Spain.

A final comment: What a fantastic array of talent was on stage for this gig. Everywhere you looked in the rows of musicians were the faces of great musicians — not imported musos, but locals. We should value them more, whatever occasional pain they cause us on the stretching rack.