Tag Archives: Victoria University

MELBOURNE JAZZ FRINGE FESTIVAL 2010 — DAY 4

VICTORIA UNIVERSITY SHOWCASE AT BENNETTS LANE

The big room at Bennetts was packed to hear the new talent on the block from VU, with undergraduates and returning graduates of music performance courses.

I missed the first set, from the Lorraine Anne Quartet — Lorraine Anne (vocals), Fionn O’Sullivan (piano), Ben Salvador (bass) and Nathan Power (drums) — but the applause was loud so it must have been well received.

Yanina Oliver
Yanina Oliver with her quartet

Next up came Luna and Skye, with Yanina Oliver (vocals/drums), Fionn O’Sullivan (piano), Luke Anticevic (guitar) and Ben Salvador (bass) performing an original compositional project called “The Story of Annabelle Charlesworth”.

I’m not sure I grasped much of Annabelle’s life story, but it is impressive that students are involved in developing such projects. The notes handed out, which I saw after, serve only to add to the intrigue. O’Sullivan on piano and Oliver on drums and vocals were the standouts in this group, especially Oliver’s voice. There seemed to be power and presence in her voice, but her vocal contribution was restrained, in keeping with the piece.

Du Gitaristo

Two graduates — guitarists Matthew Erickson and Michael Hanley — performed three original pieces as Du Gitaristo (apparently Esperanto). Both showed great technical ability and finesse.

Du Gitaristo

Next, the Louise Joy Quintet, Louise Joy on vocals, Daniel Grey on piano, Michael Pateras on guitar, Marc Clemente on electric bass and Yanina Oliver on drums played their version of the nineties White Town hit Your Woman. They left us wanting more. Joy was feisty in her delivery as she sang “So cut the crap and tell me that you’re through” and clearly has the ability to grab the attention of an audience. But how did she injure her finger? Was she telling someone “I could never be your woman” and they took it hard? Yanina Oliver was again a hit on drums.

Louise Joy
Louise Joy Quintet

Yanina Oliver
Yanina Oliver

Louise Joy
Louise Joy Quintet

Yanina Oliver
Yanina Oliver

Circulation, with Caleb Garfinkel on guitar and laptop, Bryce Clark on piano and Nathan Power on drums, took things in the direction of new music with a coherent, engrossing piece, which developed slowly.

Caleb Garfinkel
Caleb Garfinkel

Nathan Power
Nathan Power

This evening showed that a lot of talented young musicians, including composers, are emerging from VU. It augurs well, but we need more people to fill our many fine venues.

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MELBOURNE JAZZ FRINGE FESTIVAL 2010 — DAY 1

APRA COMMISSION CONCERT
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

FIRST SET — TIM WILSON AND ANDREA KELLER DUO:
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.

Rotunda in the West — Michael Leunig

Michael Leunig at Victoria University on June 4, 2009

This does not qualify as a jazz gig at all, but I’m posting a few thoughts despite the fact that I have some jazz gig posts (for Howard Cairns at Paris Cat, Adam Simmons at 45 Downstairs) to add that should precede this — if I am totally anal about the order of posting.

Leunig was responding to questions from Bruno Lettieri (what a great name for a literacy teacher) and writer Paul Bateman in a fireside-like chat (without the fire) as part of the Rotunda in the West series.

A lot of things were discussed, but creativity was a focus. Leunig said (paraphrasing) that the artist (writer, poet, musician) can touch us and help us express what is repressed. He talked about the pressures of conformity and the illusion that we are expressing ourselves as against  innocence and wonderment, the eager quality in a child (a concept referred to by Donald Winicott, an English paediatrician, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst) and the “twinkle in your eye” that is so vital if we are to keep nature and beauty alive.

He mentioned Keats’s “negative capability” — a state of intentional open-mindedness when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries and doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason, a state when the unconscious kicks in and the person is able to get rid of ego. Leunig said that art and music are essentially expressing what’s there.

What does this have to do with jazz, or improvised music? Well, I am always fascinated by the creation of music, especially music that is produced spontaneously, and with its origin. Of course, as many improvers will point out, what is often called improvised music is created according to guidelines laid down before the music is played. And then there is music that is totally invented in the moment, as far as that is possible, and there are all the gradations in between. But when music is created in all these ways, or when the composer of scored music is writing it down and refining it, where is the inspiration drawn from?

That question seems to relate to what Leunig is saying about creativity of the artist, writer, musician and poet. Keats’s negative capability seems relevant also, as does Winicott’s idea of a “secret self” who is alone and yet comfortable with that. What seems to be a connection here needs to be developed, but I think there is a link.

The other relevance of Leunig’s thoughts to music is his reference to the way in which people can be touched and awakened by music, poetry, writing or works of art. Any music fan must have experienced that, whether for a few moments or in whole pieces of music or whole sets. A good example for me recently was the Tim Berne Adobe Probe Melbourne gig for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. I was awakened, touched and almost bowled over. There seems to be a link between that way in which I could be reached by that music and the way Leunig has, he says, been initially unable to make an idea for a cartoon work, and then descend into anger, self-loathing and regression to become as a child — an innocent, primal needy creature. Leunig says that state of mind is a perfect setting for creativity.

Does that tie in? I am certainly not saying that when Stephen Magnusson played those weird, primal (to me) notes — during the Bennetts Lane gig with Berne and Scott Tinkler — he was in a state of regression or self-loathing, but what state was he in that produced that music which touched me so profoundly?

I’m not sure this qualifies as jazz-related, but the Leunig evening was a chance to reflect on creativity, and surely that is at the core of jazz (and lots of other music).

As an aside, postscript or whatever, this was the first time I had been out to a “gig” in recent times without a camera. Leunig was a great subject and during the discussion a VU photographer was snapping away merrily. That brought to mind how much I missed — and also have recently enjoyed — being able to take photographs while listening. That sometimes interferes with my appreciation of music, so that I have to close my eyes and let the notes flow back into my awareness, but often when I am waiting for the moment in a piece when a particular musician is going to be “right” for a photo, I am also getting totally into the feel of the music. When that happens, I can sometimes feel when to click the shutter and it works: the shot is there as I felt it would be. It almost becomes like experiencing the music from a player’s perspective, just because I seem to feel the moments that will come next and capture them.

That was a digression. It’s probably going too far to suggest that I can vicariously experience music by looking through a camera viewfinder or at an LCD screen. But it is at least a little like that. And it does seem to work … just not all the time.

Thanks to Bruno et al for the Leunig gig.