Tag Archives: Satsuki Odamura

NEW DIRECTION FOR WAY OUT WEST

Way Out West

End of intermission: The new Way Out West ensemble.

REVIEW: Way Out West, 9pm  on Sunday 3 February, 2013, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club
Peter Knight trumpet and flugelhorn, Satsuki Odamura (Sydney) koto and bass koto, Paul Williamson saxophones, Ray Pereira percussion, Howard Cairns bass, Lucas Michailidis bottleneck and acoustic guitars, Hugh Harvey drums

The debut performance by Peter Knight’s Way Out West in its latest incarnation was an occasion for mixed emotions. The tunes were familiar and it was great to hear this inventive ensemble again after a long intermission. But those of us who recall earlier performances featuring the distinctive contributions of Anh Nguyen Dung on traditional Vietnamese instruments — dan tranh, dan bau, dan nguyet — and modified electric guitar were bound to feel nostalgic for the past.

Lucas Michailidis

Chordal dimension: Lucas Michailidis

At the beginning of the second set, when the band played a piece (was it If I Knew Where You Were?) written for the dan bau (Vietnamese zither), Lucas Michailidis on bottleneck guitar gave an excellent interpretation of that instrument. It did not quite capture the delicate shimmer that was so entrancing in the original version, yet it was a sign that a band moving on would pay homage to its heritage.

Satsuki Odamura

Koto virtuoso: Satsuki Odamura

Bands, however, are a moveable feast and there can be no standing still or pondering of past glories. Way Out West has made significant changes to a line-up that has included drummers such as Tony Floyd, Ronny Ferella, Scott Lambie, Dave Beck and, most recently, Raj Jayaweera. With Raj in New York and Dung unavailable, Way Out West has welcomed Michailidis, Hugh Harvey at the drum kit and koto virtuoso from Sydney, Satsuki Odamura.

Having had little time together, the new ensemble has yet to discover the directions it will take as it forges a different identity while retaining its characteristic integration of Asian instrumentation and approaches with West African grooves and jazz-inflected melodies. But during Sunday’s performance there were signs that valuable interactions will develop.

Howard Cairns

Relishing the bass koto: Howard Cairns

Howard Cairns on acoustic bass gave every indication that he relished the contributions of Odamura on bass koto. Michailidis offers a new dimension, playing chords that were not part of Dung Nguyen’s guitar work. Time will tell how the rhythmically dextrous Ray Pereira will respond to Harvey on drums and Odamura’s koto.

Satsuki Odamura

Fiery exchanges: Satsuki Odamura with Paul Williamson

But as the band’s final piece for the night, Blues for a Yungster, filled the venue with the infectious energy of Paul Williamson‘s tenor saxophone in fiery exchanges with Odamura’s feisty koto, there was a clear sign that Way Out West will venture into exciting territory as it prepares material for a new album later this year or early next.

Those of us who have followed this ensemble of talented musicians over the years will still play its early albums to relish its past. Yet we will look forward to significant developments as Way Out West plots a new course and, possibly, turns up the heat.

ROGER MITCHELL

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FOUR FELLOWS BAG FELLOWSHIPS

The Music Board of the Australia Council for the Arts has announced its 2012 fellowship recipients.

Two-year fellowships were awarded to four artists: trumpeter and composer Peter Knight, jazz guitarist James Muller, composer and pianist Erik Griswold and experimental musician Lucas Abela.

Peter Knight

Peter Knight performs at Uptown Jazz Cafe

Knight’s fellowship will enable him to create new solo work for trumpet and electronics and undertake three collaborative projects, including a new Way Out West album with kotoist Satsuki Odamura, new work with Korean vocalist Sunny Kim, as well as a new album from the Peter Knight Sextet featuring Paddy Mann of Grand Salvo.

Knight — a trumpeter, composer and sound artist — has released eight albums, including solo work for trumpet and electronics, Way Out West and the Peter Knight Quintet. He has performed at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, the International Trumpet Guild convention, and has toured extensively across the US, Europe and Asia.

James Muller

James Muller performs at Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival

James Muller has been awarded a fellowship to create new work for an upcoming solo release and trio album, develop new artistic collaborations during a six-month residency in New York, and undertake a national tour with the James Muller Trio.

An ARIA award winner and a recipient of a National Jazz Award, Muller has collaborated with musicians in Australia including Paul Grabowsky, James Morrison, Mike Nock, Renee Geyer, and Scott Tinkler, as well as international artists such as Chad Wackerman, Bill Stewart, Maria Schneider and Nigel Kennedy. He has toured to critical acclaim in the US, Europe and Asia.

Erik Griswold

Erik Griswold performs at Footscray Community Arts Centre

As part of Erik Griswold’s two-year fellowship he will create a collection of new compositions for a diverse range of Australian and international ensembles, including the Australian Art Orchestra, Camerata of St John, the Viney Grinberg Piano Duo, La Jolla Symphony, QCGU Saxophone Orchestra, Margaret Leng Tan and Acromusical. Erik will also undertake a collaborative project with Ensemble Offspring, and an inter-media project to be premiered at the Queensland Music Festival.

Lucas Abela’s Fellowship will see him create new work as part of his interactive arcade series, undertake a residency period in Lismore and Indonesia, as well as present his solo amplified glass work and installations at international festivals and galleries.

Abela is an experimental musician whose previous work has seen him modify turntables and amplified glass to create a unique improvised sound. He has released eight albums on his Dualplover album, undertaking 21 international tours across 45 countries, and collaborated with a diverse range of artists including Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, The Flaming Lips, Jon Rose and Anthony Pateras. More recently Lucas’s work has expanded to include sound installation and large-scale instruments for interactive play, such as Vinyl Rally, Mix Tape and Pinball Pianola.

The Music Board held an assessment meeting on 13-14 November 2012 covering categories of Fellowships, Project Fellowships, Skills and Arts Development and the Don Banks Award.

ROGER MITCHELL

(incorporating material from the Australia Council for the Arts and Listen/Hear Collective)

Kaleidoscope — GEST8

GEST8

(Tall Poppies)

AS its name suggests, GEST8 is about slow development and infinite possibilities. Co-led by composers Tony Gorman and Sandy Evans (saxophones), the ensemble of eight lead musicians incorporates influences as diverse as Japanese, Korean and circus music and free improvisation.

Best experienced live, as in the closing performance at the 2008 Wangaratta Festival of Jazz, this music — described by Paul Grabowsky as reflecting jazz as a process — can surprise, arrest and is always engrossing.

Satsuki Odamura on the ancient Japanese koto and bass koto adds a distinctive dimension, as does Greg White on computer, particularly on Platform, which is eerily reminiscent of Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Standout tracks are Gorman’s mesmerising Lambent and Evans’s thoughtful Inner Space, the upbeat, then frenetic The Emperor’s Old Clothes and whimsical A Shower of Sunbeams.

In short: Ever-changing musical shapes and colours.

ROGER MITCHELL