Tag Archives: Phil Slater


Tenth reason

10. A bounty from baecastuff

Among these highlights chosen by Ausjazz blog as 12 great reasons for not missing the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival is one concert that is especially intriguing.

I have not heard Baecastuff, led by saxophone player Rick Robertson (of d.i.g fame), but the band comes highly recommended. I have no idea what to expect, but a glance at the line-up shows this group is guaranteed to produce extraordinary music.

Baecastuff features Phil Slater on trumpet, Matt McMahon on piano, Alex Hewetson on bass, Simon Barker on drums. Robertson formed the band in 1996 after he and Slater returned from a European Tour with d.i.g, which included appearances at the Montreux and North Sea Jazz festivals. The concept was to create an ensemble to present original compositions with influences from 1970s Miles Davis, Dave Holland, Ornette Coleman and Jan Garbarek, and to combine that with modern rhythms such as jungle and drum’n’bass. The band has developed a unique sound that one reviewer described as “jazz in spirit, but open to developments in funk and electronic music such as drum’n’bass.”

To Robertson the heritage of Norfolk Island, where he was born, is an important part of the music he has written for Baecastuff. His family descended from HMS Bounty mutineers, who occupied Pitcairn Island before being removed to Norfolk Island.

On the festival website he explains that Baecastuff will play Mutiny Music, “a musical narrative based on the music, language, and culture of the Pitcairn Islanders, depicting in musical terms what happened as a direct result of the Bounty mutineers’ need to retrieve their Tahitian ‘wives’ and hide successfully from the wrath of the English in tiny Pitcairn’s Isle. The music draws on Pitcairn hymns, melodies derived from spoken word and Polynesian rhythms.”

Performances: Saturday, November 3 at 3pm, WPAC Theatre; Sunday, November 4 at 10pm St Patrick’s Hall



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.



Second of 12 reasons



Three musicians that stand tall in Australian improvised music are trumpeters Scott Tinkler and Phil Slater, and drummer Simon Barker. Their work has pushed boundaries; their intensity and focus has delivered drama to performances that linger long after the last notes have died away.

Two years ago, in the US, Tinkler played with Mark Dresser, who plays bass with Trio M, which is a cooperative band consisting of three musicians acclaimed as improvisers, composers and bandleaders. With pianist Myra Melford on piano and Matt Wilson on drums, Trio M expressed an interest in playing with local musicians during the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival. The US trio had its eye on Tinkler, Slater and Barker.

The three local lads will play with Trio M on Saturday November 3rd at 8:30 pm in the WPAC (Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre) Theatre. Tinkler will play a duo gig with Dresser at Holy Trinity Cathedral at 4pm on Sunday, November 4.

Trio M will perform unadorned twice, at 2pm on Saturday, November 3 in St Patrick’s Hall and at 1pm on Sunday November 4 in WPAC Theatre.

Artistic director of the festival, Adrian Jackson, has commented that Trio M is not avant garde in the sense of being at all difficult to listen to, but its members are creative and daring in the way they play.

As Melford puts it, “Our music is centered within the broadest view of the jazz tradition in which a wide range of musical styles and personalities outside of our genre are the source of our inspiration. The common threads in our music are beauty, energy, rhythm, harmony, timbre, improvisational fantasy and a joy of sonic communion.

“Expect swing, tunefulness, sounds, energetic improvising, and the pleasures of collective music making.”

I am looking forward in particular to the collective music making within the collaborative gigs.