Tag Archives: Peter Sculthorpe

A NEW GOULD LEAGUE

Dr Tony Gould and the honourable Scott Tinkler

Dr Tony Gould and the honourable Scott Tinkler

PREVIEW

Moreland City Phoenix Project, Saturday 12 December at 7.30pm, Cross Street Music Hall, 11-17 Cross St, East Brunswick

I don’t know who took the photograph above, but what a great shot of these esteemed gentlemen.

When I read the headline on the accompanying flyer — Handing over the baton concert — I jumped to the erroneous conclusion that Dr Tony Gould was to assume command of the band from the mercurial Scott Tinkler, exponent extraordinaire of trumpah.

Obviously I was wrong, because Gould is taking the patron’s baton after the death of that giant of Australian music, Peter Sculthorpe. And so the baton passes from one wonderful musician to another. Tinky, as the band leader is sometimes dubbed, will presumably stay at the helm.
So, after a hiatus of six months, the Moreland City Phoenix Project will rise again to perform in concert again on Saturday.
The “Handing Over the Baton” concert will open with Gould playing a Sculthorpe composition. That is surely reason enough to turn up. He will also perform with Tinkler.
The concert will also include compositions and arrangements by band member Cathy Connor (including an arrangement of a Bernie McGann piece) and  also a selection of new compositions by Jim Cuomo (also a band member), Sam Keevers, and Bob Sedergreen (arranged by Sonja Horbelt) and other composers.
Admission by donation.

ROGER MITCHELL

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HOMAGE TO A GREAT COMPOSER

Seventh reason
___________

7. sculthorpe’s work in safe hands

These highlights chosen by Ausjazz blog — 12 great reasons for not missing the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival — are not ranked in any order, but this is one concert I really do not want to miss.

In 2009 I had the privilege to interview Peter Sculthorpe and Phil Slater before the performance of The Sculthorpe Songbook at Stonnington Jazz. Slater and Matt McMahon had deconstructed some Sculthorpe pieces, with his blessing, and revisited them. I recall the interview well because the recording device failed during what was, I thought, a special discussion with the distinguised Australian composer and I had to revisit the questions a few days later.

In The Sun Songbook at Wangaratta this year, trumpeter and composer Slater will again feature his adaptations and interpretations of Sculthorpe’s music. For this project, Slater (trumpet, laptop) will be joined by longtime collaborative partners, pianist McMahon and drummer Simon Barker, as well as guitarist Carl Dewhurst, bassist Brett Hirst and violist Erkki Veltheim.

Winner of the National Jazz Awards in 2003, Slater has created outstanding music with Band of Five Names and the Phil Slater Quartet, and has been heard with many other artists, including Baecastuff, Australian Art Orchestra, Gest8, Daorum, Matt McMahon’s Paths & Streams, DIG, Jim Black and Bobby Previte.

The festival website quotes Slater as saying, “The music is derived from many of Sculthorpe’s iconic orchestral and chamber works, including Kakadu, Irkanda 4, Djilile, Earth Cry, and the Sun Music series. The Sun Songbook explores several of Sculthorpe’s musical themes and points of influence, including the music of Japan, Indonesia, early Western liturgical music, and Australian Aboriginal music.”

This is definitely one concert not to miss.

Read Ausjazz blog’s review of the Sculthorpe Songbook, performed at Stonnington Jazz in May 2009.

Read Ausjazz blog’s 2009 interview with Peter Sculthorpe and Phil Slater about  The Sculthorpe Songbook: The composer’s work torn apart.

ROGER MITCHELL

Stonnington Jazz — Day 9

The Sculthorpe Songbook

It was a great pity that Peter Sculthorpe, who inspired Phil Slater and Matt McMahon as students and later as the accomplished jazz musicians who brought us this incarnation of the Sculthorpe Songbook, was at the last moment, due to illness, unable to travel to Melbourne for this concert.

It was a fitting tribute to one of Australia’s living treasures soon after his 80th birthday. The reinterpretations of Sculthorpe pieces reflected the diversity of his music, as well as his commitment to compositions that drew on influences from this country and the region, rather than hanging on the coat tails of Europe. Phil Slater said Sculthorpe had placed great importance on “finding your place and representing that place in music”, on conveying “the feel of places”, so it was the intent of the jazz musicians, with Silo String Quartet, “to play the feelings of Peter’s music”.

Phil Slater
Phil Slater

With Simon Barker on drums and percussion, Carl Dewhurst (hidden behind the grand piano) on guitar and Steve Elphick on double bass, the ensemble began by linking adaptations of Singing Sun (a Sculthorpe melody), From Nourlangie (1993), and the Calmo movement from a piano concerto (first recorded on the album Paths and Streams). Katie Noonan joined the group to sing Maranoa Lullaby (Aboriginal plainsong based on an east Arnhem Land melody, 1996), which was followed by Pemungkah (a version of a melody by Balinese composer Lotring, originally aired in Sun Music 3). Tim Freedman (The Whitlams) took the microphone for It’ll Rise Again (from rock opera Love 200).

Katie Noonan
Katie Noonan

I can’t wait to digress about a discovery that was a highlight for me after the concert, in the early hours. When Freedman sang the words of It’ll Rise Again (“Sun down, it’ll rise again, Ice melt, it’ll ice again, Drowning boat, she can float again … Sun down, boat rise … Judas chose, and he chose again, Christ died, and he rose again, … ) I recalled that Jeannie Lewis sang this with great power on Free Fall Through Featherless Flight in the 1970s. I had never known it was a Sculthorpe song, with lyrics by Tony Morphett, and it was exciting to make that connection. I wanted to listen to Lewis’s version and, after some fossicking, found it on a blog. Yeh!

That was a digression, but I should say that, while Freedman sang competently, his voice seemed to lack the depth that the song needed — it has such a beautiful melody and moving lyrics, which refer to Captain James Cook’s need to repair damage to a boat in what was to be the north of Queensland. Earlier, when Noonan (and I am not a big fan of her voice, or of the material she has been singing recently) performed Maranoa Lullaby, I was captivated and moved.

Phil Slater and Katie Noonan
Phil Slater and Katie Noonan

From the shimmering sound of guitar and percussion that opened Singing Sun, interrupted momentarily by an ambulance siren from beyond our world, the Malvern Town Hall audience was embraced by a sense of stillness. The gentle vibrato seemed to suggest a didgeridoo, and, later, gamelan influence. Slater’s amplified trumpet spoke in fiery terms, then blew out the flames over gentle piano. The breathy infusion of horn notes occurred often during the evening, setting me off in search of tips on how to achieve this manifestation of an incredibly versatile and atmospheric instrument.

Permungkah began with static and chatter from Dewhurst and Barker, with a beat gradually forming and the tempo increasing. The melody was catchy, but sad. In trumpet sorties over the rhythm, Slater darted in and climbed a few trees (the image worked for me) in what became a journey in rhythm overlaid by some melody. It seemed to be quite different from classical or what I expected of Balinese influenced music. The piece ended slowly, with only guitar to close. In It’ll Rise Again, guitar and horn solos were compelling.

Silo String Quartet
Silo String Quartet

I did feel that the strings seemed a little forlorn, with not that much to do in the first set.

The second set brought us interpretations of Kakadu (written before Sculthorpe had visited there), The Stars Turn (from Love 200), Jakily (unsure of name) and Music From Japan, Out the Back (by Freedman, arranged by Sculthorpe in 2002), Love (from Love 200), and Bone Epilogue.

Katie Noonan
Katie Noonan

In Kakadu, horn floated serenely over ceaseless, muted percussion that behaved with quiet busyness. Then, while trumpet screamed, the ensemble built drama — a lot of this music was about layering.

Noonan’s voice seemed again entirely appropriate for The Stars Turn, and the cello intro was superb. In the third piece, combining two, I fell in love with the trumpet intro, and continued the affair throughout.

Katie Noonan and Tim Freedman
Katie Noonan and Tim Freedman

Sculthorpe called Out the Back “some of the prettiest music I’ve written”, Freedman told us, and also said after composing the piece he felt like Duke Ellington, with whom he shares a birth date. The audience was wowed by Freedman’s rendition of lines such as “I’m not surfin’, I’m sittin’ out the back” — his light and laid back vocals suited the song. But Noonan had moved me, and when the two sang Love, it was the quality in her voice that stood out. (What am I saying? Have I been converted?)

Steve Elphick and Aaron Barnden
Steve Elphick and Aaron Barnden

Bone Epilogue began with bowed bass sounding much like a didgeridoo and Elphick’s long solo was superb. Some beautiful horn playing recalled Slater’s comment (see Press Articles) that playing trumpet for Anzac ceremonies was one of the most moving occasions for a musician playing this instrument. McMahon, who contributed a lot but seemed to avoid the limelight throughout the evening, burst in with a tinkle jumble of notes that had virtuosic flourish and added a cinematic feel. I scribbled: The piece is expanding, as wide as this country, a journey in sound, an exploration of the land.” OK, so I was carried away, but I believe many others were also.

Phil Slater and Matt McMahon
Phil Slater and Matt McMahon

Steve Elphick and Aaron Barnden
Steve Elphick and Aaron Barnden

McMahon, Elphick, Slater and Aaron Barnden
Matt McMahon, Steve Elphick, Phil Slater and Aaron Barnden