Tag Archives: Tim Wilson



It was a hectic day as the two festivals crossed swords for our custom. So with the sounds of the Big Jam ringing in my ears, and after literary delights at the extempore launch, and after the Paul Grabowsky Sextet at Bennetts Lane (phew!) it was time to see off the fringe festival in the best way possible — with great music at a comfortably packed Cafe 303.


Daz Hammond Combo

Darrin Archer on hammond, Hugh Stuckey on guitar, Tim Wilson on sax and Andy Keegan on drums, with Ben Hauptmann sitting in occasionally had the place humming when I arrived and they fired some good energy into the gathering.

Tim Wilson
Tim Wilson

Ben Hauptmann
Ben Hauptmann

Jess Green’s Bright Sparks came on to close the night and close the fringe festival. What a finale! Ronny Ferella on drums had had only one rehearsal (it didn’t seem to matter) in the afternoon with the band, which included Zoe Frater, now a Melburnian, on electric bass. A high-powered crew from up north made up the rest of the band, comprising Jess Green on guitar and vocals, Adrian Shaw on trumpet and percussion, Sandy Evans on tenor sax, John Hibbard on trombone and Lachlan McLean on alto sax.

Jess Green's Bright Sparks
Jess Green’s Bright Sparks

In an energetic, robust set, the Bright Sparks played Orange Rock Song, Your Checkered Shirt, Patterns and Stories, the edgy Alias, the softer Mali-referenced and zydeco-feeling Bamako Youth, Clickety Clack and the Full Moon O’er the Thames and an ode to Nick entitled Dear Mr Cave. There were some great solos from Shaw, Evans, Hibbard, Frater, McLean, Ferella and Green — yes, that’s everyone, but it’s true. There was plenty of room for soloing, but no one was trying to grab the limelight and the compositions allowed for plenty of duos and trios in the highlights.

Adrian Shaw and Sandy Evans
Adrian Shaw and Sandy Evans

Bar 303 was pretty crowded for a gig going so late, but I could not help thinking that, like The Dilworths, here was an ensemble that would really hold a crowd on a big occasion. There is a lot of talent in Sydney and we have the Jazz Fringe Festival to thank for bringing us some as a treat.

Speaking of thanks, Sonja Horbelt in particular and other Fringe committee members deserved a huge thank you from audiences for their efforts in making this festival such a success. Bring on the next MJFF in 2011!


Commission Winner Gian Slater: Gone, Without Saying

Gian Slater et al
Gian Slater and her singers

What a great start to the MIJFF for 2010! Sonja Horbelt praised the work of the committee and the support of sponsors, including APRA, Victoria University and Miriam Zolin’s journal extempore, which is about to launch its fourth edition and is a must-have for serious lovers of improvised music and the arts.

Then it was on with the music:

The festival’s commission concert always produces something inventive and compelling. Last year it was a work guided by Ren Walters. This year Gian Slater and 13 singers performed at BMW Edge in a work for voices designed to explore the notion of communication between and without words. The singers were Jenny Barnes, Tom Barton, Helen Catanchin, Hailey Cramer, Miriam Crellin, Georgie Darvidis, Ed Fairlie, Bronwyn Hicks, Kate Kelsey–Sugg, Louisa Rankin, Damien Slingsby and Loni Thomson.

The concert was described as exploring what “cannot be put into words — those things we don’t wish to speak of, or those that go without saying”. The work was “written for voices using experimental and extended vocal techniques with intricate, textural layering and conceptual improvising”.

The performance received a standing ovation. I was tired and hungry, but that was soon irrelevant as these singers took us on a journey of discovery that was audibly rich and yet brimming with subtlety. This must have taken so much work to perfect and was no doubt a difficult work for the vocalists. There was so much to take in that it would be great to see and hear the work again, and to reflect on what it was expressing about how we communicate (or don’t).

This was not mainstream jazz (did anyone expect that?) and perhaps it was not improvised, but fairly carefully composed. But it was riveting.

(And I think I used to know a Bronwyn Hicks at The Melbourne Times years ago. She was a cartoonist. Any connection?)

Here’s a few other pics:

Gian Slater et al
In full flight

Gian Slater et al
Gian using a “music box”.

Gian Slater singers
Singers need a hand

Life That Lingers

Andrea Keller
Andrea Keller

Before Gian and her singers, Andrea Keller on piano and Tim Wilson on saxophone played with great empathy and understanding. There was a strong sense that the musicians were listening intently to each other and responding, though their communication was not that visibly apparent. It would be fair to say that for Keller and Wilson there was much that went without saying and much that was best said with music.

Tim Wilson
Tim Wilson

For details of the Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival, including Big Arse Saturday, which I can’t get to because I’m working, visit the MIJFF website.


John McAll on piano, Jordan Murray on trombone, Tim Wilson on flute and alto sax (David Rex broke his arm), Adam Simmons on reeds, Philip Rex on acoustic bass, David Jones on drums at Jazz on Ovens

I loved Black Money, John McAll’s first album as bandleader and composer, so I relaxed and enjoyed as the septet played tracks including Atlantis, I Should Care, Behind the Bushes (think sinister, think silly swaggering cowboy elements in America), Melbournology, the superb Glitter and Dust (“melancholy meets brilliant thoughts”) and Chick Corea’s Humpty Dumpty.

The audience loved it and queued to buy the album later. Shades of the wonderful Way Out West gig at Ovens the previous year.

I’m hoping there’ll be another album from the “lesser known McAll” soon, with this line-up or similar.

Pics to come