Tag Archives: Tim Davies

SURF’S UP, BUT I’M NOT

REVIEW: Jamie Oehlers Quartet featuring Robert Hurst  — Jamie Oehlers saxophone, Robert Hurst bass, Tal Cohen piano, Jacob Evans drums — at Bennetts Lane, Melbourne, Friday, June 1 at 11pm for Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2012

Robert Hurst

Robert Hurst

For reasons I don’t need to go into here I have been attending some career transition courses at work. One tip the instructor gave — and this has nothing whatsoever to do with this MIJF gig — is that before looking for a job it is vital to remove all images of yourself from social media such as Facebook, because prospective employers may check your profile, take one look and decide “he’s too old” or “I can’t stand bald people” or some such. Interesting. But I digress. What is slightly connected to this review is that the instructor also warned that in job interviews it is important to avoid waffle. Well, I can feel some waffle coming on. Be warned.

To be honest, I suspect I’m tempted to indulge in palaver because I don’t have that much to say. How can that be, with players such as Jamie Oehlers and US bassist Robert Hurst performing in an intimate venue such as Bennetts Lane? I love Oehlers’ work and have waxed lyrical about it, especially with Paul Grabowsky and Dave Beck in the exciting and totally improvised playing of Lost and Found.

Jamie Oehlers

Jamie Oehlers

Well, the mundane realities were that this was my third gig for the night, that I’d just been blown away by Bernie McGann‘s two sets and that I had to miss the second set by the Oehlers quartet in order to make the last train home. Also, I was not really in the mood for the onslaught of sax power that Oehlers unleashed. My bad. Somehow, like a wave that you don’t quite catch, it came at me but failed to pick me up and carry me in.

Others loved this outing.  I can quote respected jazz writer Andra Jackson, herself a saxophonist, who commented on this gig via social media in these words: “PHEN-omenal unofficial opening gig for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival last night from saxophonist Jamie Oehlers. Can it get much better than that! Such seamless playing on Aisha. And in one extended passage he even sounded like he was playing two instruments, playing an insistent riff and bringing in a melody over it.”

And, according to Andra, saxophonist George Garzone was at Bennetts and said he’d never heard Oehlers in better form.

Jacob Evans

Jacob Evans

I was not familiar with Hurst, but his website mentions that he featured on 12 tracks from Paul McCartney‘s Kisses on the Bottom and on Chris Botti‘s Impressions, and toured the US with Diana Krall this year. His
Unrehurst Vol 2
and Bob Ya Head were critics’ picks for best albums of 2011.

In the first set at Bennetts, the quartet began with the energetic Hurst original Tiger’s on Venus, which was hard-driving stuff throughout. I felt Hurst’s work was exemplary and virtuosic, but lacked the warmth of a player like Charlie Hayden.

Hurst & Oehlers

Hurst & Oehlers

Next up was McCoy Tyner‘s Ballad for Aisha. Oehlers was doubly impressive in this, playing two very different solos during the piece — one intense and the other relatively laid back. Jacob Evans used his hands effectively on the skins. Hurst’s solo had space and dignity.

Jamie Oehlers

Jamie Oehlers

The final piece for the set was Hurst’s original Aycrigg, I think named for a street in which he once lived. This was a return to the faster pace and vigour of the opening and certainly gave us a chance to see Hurst’s nimble fingers at work at an incredible speed. If Tim Davies impressed with his drumming speed at Stonnington Jazz, Hurst certainly demonstrated his skill at speed on the bass.

Tal Cohen

Tal Cohen

I suspect that the second set delighted those in the audience who were up for a hard-driving quartet in the mood to take no prisoners.

On the last train home, my strongest memories were of Bernie McGann standing almost unmoving on stage as his playing moved us.

ROGER MITCHELL

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FASTER THAN A SPEEDING SHUTTER

REVIEW: Stonnington Jazz 2012
Tim Davies Big Band, Chapel Off Chapel, May 23, 2012

Tim Davies Big Band

Tim Davies Big Band performs at Chapel Off Chapel.

From the outset it was always going to be a contest between stick and shutter, between the man at the drum kit and the finger on the camera button. For a long while I thought the lightning-fast hands of Tim Davies would win — that it might not be possible to catch those sticks in mid flight.

Tim Davies

Faster than a speeding shutter: Tim Davies

OK, so eventually I fluked a few shots. But a concert is about being there and hearing the music, not about recording moments in time to view later. One word sums up this outing at Chapel Off Chapel — big. It was a big band, making a big sound, led by a virtuosic showman who had a big personality and wielded his sticks like an army wields weapons. The Grammy-nominated film and television composer, arranger and band leader had a 19-piece band to deliver his onslaught, if you count vocalist Zac Teichmann, who also had a big sound.

Tim Davies

Tim Davies with his big band.

Davies, who formed a big band in Melbourne before moving to Los Angeles in 1998, could have been channeling the flamboyant Gene Krupa in his solo during the opening swing favourite Sing, Sing, Sing made famous by Benny Goodman. Tony Hicks featured, as Davies put it, “on torture tube”.

Tony Hicks on tenor sax, Tim Wilson on alto.

Tony Hicks goes solo on tenor sax.

I had to leave after the first set, but it was ringing in my ears all the way home. Davies peppered his pieces with stories, beginning with the excruciating tale behind his composition Black Nail, involving a finger in the door and the pulling out of the damaged nail.

Eugene Ball solos in Tim Davies Big Band

Eugene Ball on trumpet up the back of Tim Davies Big Band

Hicks on tenor sax again featured in Davies’ Elegy for My Unborn House, before Goon Juice, with Eugene Ball soloing on trumpet from the back of the band and Tim Wilson on alto sax from the front.

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson on alto sax.

A highlight of the big band outing was the unexpected addition of vocalist Zac Teichmann, who has obviously worked with Davies previously. I would have been keen to hear more from Teichmann, but he sang only the one number, Board Game. I don’t know which gave a richer, more resonant sound, Stuart Byrne on baritone sax or Teichmann.

Zac Teichmann

Zac Teichmann

The first set closed with the Grammy-nominated Counting to Infinity, which Davies said was a trilogy in four movements. He said it had emerged from his “morning-mares” (as opposed to the night ones), which is what he enjoyed often because he had a rich wife who works for Sony, which allows him to sleep late.

Pianist with Tim Davies Big Band

Pianist with Tim Davies Big Band

The energy in this big band performance was amazing. These would have been difficult charts to master in the short rehearsal time available, so full marks to the band. It was exciting playing and full of verve.

Guitarist with Tim Davies Big Band

Guitarist with Tim Davies Big Band

Tim Davies Big Band

Is this Stuart Byrne with Tim Davies Big Band? (Not sure)

Having said that, Davies style of big band music is not quite my ideal (and that’s immaterial except to me), so I’d rather hear Bennetts Lane Big Band or the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra. But seeing and hearing Davies at the helm was an unforgettable experience. And it was fun trying to catch his sticks in mid air, occasionally.

ROGER MITCHELL