Tag Archives: Sam Bates

COOL SAX AND SAM’S KITCHEN

Angela Davis

Angela Davis during her quartet’s MWIJF performance at Bennetts Lane

REVIEW

Angela Davis Quartet, Melbourne Women’s International Jazz festival, Wednesday 9 December, 8.30pm at Bennetts Lane

Line-up: Angela Davis alto sax, Tony Gould piano, Sam Anning bass, Sam Bates drums

I’m showing my age, but the name Angela Davis brings to my mind the 1960s political activist in the US rather than a young saxophonist. But it’s time for me to move on.

In music, as in food, I am a lover of contrasts. I like black pepper on vanilla ice cream, fresh fig with a dash of Three Crabs fish sauce (the brand is important). And I can be moved by the beauty of a simple phrase or melody and yet also totally captivated by the most fiery, out there antics in the music you’d often hear at Melbourne’s Make It Up Club.

It’s the zone in between that at times does not grab me, I think because of my desire for tension, complexity, abrasion or propulsion in music on one hand, or exquisite simplicity and beauty on the other.

Some will share or understand this view, others won’t. It is only relevant because it influences my reaction — much as I may wish otherwise.

How is this palaver relevant to this outing by saxophonist Angela Davis, who has recently returned to Australia after having lived in New York City for the past eight years?

Well, John McBeath in one of the Murdoch newspapers I refuse to buy said Davis “has a beautifully elegant, honeyed alto tone, reminiscent of Paul Desmond” and Step Tempest has referred to her “sweet tone” and said “for Ms Davis, the ‘art’ is found in the ‘melody’”.

I’d agree. In this outing with Sam Anning (also recently returned from years in New York), maestro Tony Gould and Sam Bates on drums, Davis seemed to offer the epitomy of cool saxophone, with a pure, clean tone. The gravelly abrasiveness and guttural antics of some saxophonists was not there.

Her purity of tone was ideally suited to the pieces chosen, including Fujiyama and the sprightly Toki’s Theme from Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Impressions of Japan, gentle Joanna’s Waltz (Frank Wunsch), a warm rendition of Annie Laurie, the moving original Hymn For the Lonely and Johnny Mandel’s Emily.

Two duets with Gould — Martha (Tom Waits) and variations on Abide With Me — were especially beautiful.

I particularly warmed to the quartet’s energy and swing on Davis’s engaging compositions 41 St Nick and A Thousand Feet from Bergen Street. I also loved the look on Sam Anning’s face when Angela Davis told him she had been able to look into his kitchen from her apartment across from his in Harlem.

During her time in the US, Angela received a Masters of Music from the University of the Arts and studied with many saxophone greats including Dick Oatts, Lee Konitz and Steve Wilson.

Davis has two albums — The Art of Melody (2013) and Lady Luck (2015). If she is back in Melbourne for a while, jazz fans can look forward to some new compositions, and perhaps even new insights into what went on in Anning’s kitchen.

ROGER MITCHELL

Here’s a few images:

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CHANTAL FIRES A CANNONBALL INTO A TOUGH CROWD

Chantal Mitvalsky

Chantal Mitvalsky and Darrin Archer in Cannonball

REVIEW: David Rex Quartet / Cannonball, Chapel Off Chapel, Tuesday 20 May, 8pm for Stonnington Jazz

Vocalist, DJ and PBS broadcaster Chelsea Wilson introduced this two-set gig with lively enthusiasm, and there was every reason to look forward to what was in store from the brothers Rex. Alto saxophonist David, described by expatriate New York pianist composer Barney McAll as “the finest alto saxophonist in Australia today” was joining his sibling, acoustic bass powerhouse Philip. David Allardice was at the piano and Sam Bates was sitting in on drums in the absence of Danny Farrugia.

David Rex

David Rex plays Stonnington Jazz

The quartet played eight pieces, opening with John Coltrane’s Straight Street and closing with the catchy, upbeat Mr Hyde, in which we heard Allardice thoroughly warmed up on the keyboard, an absolute ripper of a bass solo and a strong alto solo to finish.

There was a lot to like in the set — the highlights for me were Philip Rex‘s solos — but either the audience was unresponsive or some interplay was missing between the players, because the vibe did not seem to be there on the night. We heard some super smooth, dreamy sax in David Rex‘s ballad Shades of Colour and some slightly bent alto notes in the classic Body and Soul (“a quick ballad to show how slow we can play”), plus tougher and faster bop in Slap It. But Hammond Song seemed to lack a real buzz and in general the quartet seemed to be finding it hard to fire up the small crowd.

Philip Rex

Philip Rex

I felt that a pianist such as John McAll may have added the pizzazz and flamboyance to arouse the audience on the night. Yet there was no denying the individual talents of the Rex boys on alto sax and double bass.

Tom Lee on bass and David Wilson on alto sax

Tom Lee on bass and David Wilson on alto sax

The second set brought on another alto saxophonist, Tim Wilson, who formed Cannonball to explore the joyous, soulful, grooving music of the great Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley. He was joined by Paul Williamson (trumpet), Darrin Archer (piano), Tom Lee (bass), Sam Bates (drums) and Chantal Mitvalsky (vocals).

To be honest, I was hoping to hear this band play pieces such as One for Daddy-O; Sack O’ Woe; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; Limehouse Blues or Walk Tall, but I had to be content with Work Song among my Adderley favourites.

Chantal Mitvalsky

Chantal Mitvalsky

That said, we were treated to a great trip down memory lane, beginning with the bright opening track The Chant, featuring top solos by Wilson and Williamson. We were not long without vocals and as soon as Mitvalsky came on for Ten Years of Tears — which included great bass work by Lee — the songstress became the focal point of the band. I think it was a tough audience, but Mitvalsky gradually roused them and won them over with the power of her personality and vocal range.

David Williamson

David Williamson

A restrained Williamson solo in If You Never Fall in Love With Me was a treat, as was Wilson’s alto in the bluesey Since I Fell For You, in which Mitvalsky’s vocals were expressive and powerful. In Work Song her forceful vocals carried conviction.The trumpet was another highlight in this piece.

Chantal Mitvalsky

Chantal Mitvalsky

Cannonball delivered the goods and no doubt reminded some in the audience of the Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley association. As a lover of the instrumental Adderley, I had to quell a wish to hear more of the band unadorned, but that’s a personal preference. I reckon Mitvalsky’s presence made the night for many at Chapel Off Chapel.

ROGER MITCHELL

Stonnington Jazz 

Tim Wilson

David Rex

GOING FORWARD / COMING UP

What a horribly over-used phrase “going forward” has become, so much so that upon hearing it I find the contents of my stomach likely to be coming up without delay. But now that I have your attention, here are some gigs that should not be missed unless you are, as I so often am, working night shift.

First, I am upset that I had to miss the nine-piece band performing music from Tim Willis‘s suite Night & Day suite at Bennetts Lane last night (October 9). I missed it during this year’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival and have had to forgo the pleasure again because work comes first.

The good news is that Tim Willis and The End will be back at Bennetts on the following two Wednesdays, October 16 and 23, so I’m hoping for a day shift.

The other good news is that there are more top gigs coming up, starting tonight.

Jex Saarelaht Trio

Jex Saarelaht Trio, Bennetts Lane, 9pm, Thursday October 10

This features pianist Jex Saarelaht, bassist Philip Rex and drummer Niko Schäuble playing original compositions and pieces by Jex’s favourite jazz composers, including Herbie Nichols, Geri Allen, Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill.

Cannonball Live

CD launch — Cannonball, Bennetts Lane, 9pm, Friday October 11

Melbourne-based jazz group Cannonball launches its new CD Live featuring Chantal Mitvalsky on vocals, which was recorded live over two nights at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club “to capture all the excitement, raw energy and `dirt’ of a live performance”.

Inspired by the jazz/groove/soul music of the late saxophone giant Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley, the group does not endeavour to replicate his work but to pay its respects to his music and to harness his infectious groove and joy-filled approach to making music.

The band features Tim Wilson saxophone, Paul Williamson trumpet, Darrin Archer piano, Sam Bates drums, Tom Lee bass.

Live includes 10 songs including rearrangements from the classic albums that Cannonball recorded with Ernie Andrews and Nancy Wilson, plus others from the great American songbook. Expect some originals and lesser known standards at the live performance.

The Vampires

The Vampires (Photo by Karen Steains)

CD Launch: The Vampires, Bennetts Lane, Sunday October 13 at 8.30pm

The Vampires have released their fourth studio album, Tiro, and are on tour nationally throughout October, with appearances at the Manly Jazz Festival and Wangaratta Festival of Jazz with special guest Shannon Barnett, who will be on loan from New York City. The Sydney album launch will be on Thursday, Dec 5 at the Basement with Danaides and Slo Poke Rodriguez.

Jeremy Rose describes the new album as “taking a new direction for the group.”

“This album casts a wide net of influences, but particularly draws from my recent travels and musical studies in Greece and Cuba. The album was also influenced by Nick Garbett‘s travels to the Pacific island of Palau and Colombia, and Alex Boneham‘s sojourn in Rome over the past year. These diverse musical ‘postcards’ come together conceptually well.”

The album also features a debut for Jeremy on tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone and clarinet, as well as Alex Masso’s work on cajon and additional percussion. The album also features two remixes by Paul ‘Tanuki’ Bromley, who has played bass with Brisbane rock band George and now is a producer.

Tour dates:

Sun 13 Oct MELBOURNE, VIC, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, 25 Bennetts Ln, (03) 9663 2856, 8.30pmwww.bennettslane.com Presented by Melbourne Jazz Co-op

Mon 14 Oct ADELAIDE, SA, The Wheatsheaf, 39 George St Thebarton, (08) 8443 4546, presented by COMA 8.00 and 9.00pm tickets $15, $10 for COMA members www.coma.net.au

Thurs 17 Oct GOSFORD NSW, Rhythm Hut, 135 Faunce St, Gosford, workshop from 6.30pm, support from 7.30pm, show at 8.30pm $25 for the workshop + show / $15 for show onlywww.therhythmhut.com.au

Fri 18 Oct BELLINGEN, NSW, #5 Church St dinner from 6pm, show at 7.30pm $12www.5churchstreet.com

Sat 19 Oct GOLD COAST, QLD, Mandala Organic Arts Cafe, 2558 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach, 7.30pm, $5 www.mandalaorganicarts.com.au

Sun 20 Oct BANGALOW, NSW, ‘Sunday Afternoon Jazz at the Bowlo’ – Bangalow Bowling Club with The Vampires plus special guests saxophonist Dave Ades and percussion master Greg Sheehan, 4pm, $15/10 kids under 12 free facebook event

Thurs 31 Oct CANBERRA, ACT The Loft, Majura Medical Centre, Cnr Antill and Cowper Sts Dickson. 8.30pm Tix $15/$12

Sat 2 Nov WANGARATTA, VIC Wangaratta International Jazz Festival, WPAC Memorial Hall, Wangaratta, **With special guest Shannon Barnett 8:00pm www.2013.wangarattajazz.com

Tues 12 Nov NEWCASTLE, NSW The Underground presented by NIMA, The Grand Hotel, cnr Bolton St and Church St, Newcastle, $15/$10 doors at 7.30pm, music from 8pm, www.nima.org.au

Sun 17 Nov WOLLONGONG, NSW, Clifton School of the Arts, 338 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Clifton, 2.00-5.00pm $20, $10, $50 family

Thurs 5 Dec SYDNEY, NSW, ALBUM LAUNCH PARTY* The Basement, 7 Macquarie Pl, Sydney, with Danaides (The Alcohotlicks) and Slo Poke Rodriguez, $20, (02) 9251 2797www.thebasement.com.au

Andrew Robson

Andrew Robson

Premiere  of Andrew Robson’s A Day at the Fair, The Grainger Museum, Royal Parade, University of Melbourne, 2.30pm Sunday October 20

This is exciting. Composer and saxophonist Andrew Robson will let some talented jazz musicians loose on 12 English folk songs collected by the great Australian composer Percy Grainger.

Robson has created a concert-length suite for this song cycle, which will also be performed on October 24 at 6.30pm in Verbrugghen Hall at Sydney Conservatorium of Music (admission is free). At the Melbourne performance, Alister Spence will perform some of the pieces on Grainger’s Estey harmonium.

The line-up is Andrew Robson saxophones, James Greening trombone/pocket trumpet, Alister Spence piano/harmonium, Brett Hirst double bass and Toby Hall drums.

Tickets for October 20 concert cost $20/$15. To book call  (03) 83448822.

ROGER MITCHELL