Tag Archives: Wangaratta Jazz 2009

WANGARATTA JAZZ 09 — BARNEY McALL & SYLENT RUNNING

Barney McAll on keyboards, Gian Slater vocals, Chris Hale on electric bass, Ben Vanderwal on drums, Dan West on laptop, toys, electronics, Nir Felder (New York) on guitar

This was quite different from what I’d expected from the notes promising experiments in relationships “between silence and non-silence, beauty and its opposites … pristine acoustics and botched, ‘confused robot’ electronics”. Barney explained the set would explore a future scenario in which Gian was the last person on earth. They began with a piece that may have been titled “Okaline” or similar, then one Barney said was “for my son … he smiles a lot right now”.

Holy Trinity cathedral was packed for this, though many seemed not to stay that long. You have to be in the right state of mind, in the moment, and I was probably already ahead of myself, working out when to leave to catch Mike Nock and Niko Schauble, so I did not do this justice. There seemed to be a lot of surreal beauty, but not much of its opposites while I was there. It was too ambient for me, despite the hypnotic feel and the enticement of Slater’s voice.

This is a fairly inadequate snapshot of what I’m sure ought to have been considered as a whole concept piece. I had the chance to hear Sylent Running again in the Alpine MDF Theatre, but it clashed with the gig by Barney’s brother, John McAll and I went to that. I was not disappointed.

WANGARATTA JAZZ 09 — ARI HOENIG QUARTET

Saturday performance by Ari Hoenig drums, Gilad Hekselman guitar, Jamie Oehlers tenor sax, Sam Anning bass

Ari Hoenig
Ari Hoenig

Text to come here for this gig, which i left after Moanin’

Ari Hoenig
Ari Hoenig

WANGARATTA JAZZ 09 — ARI HOENIG QUARTET

Ari Hoenig drums, Gilad Hekselman guitar, Jamie Oehlers tenor sax, Sam Anning bass

Ari Hoenig
Ari Hoenig

Ari Hoenig is a fantastic drummer. His skill and obvious delight in displaying his party trick of varying the pitch on his drums provided my first festival highlight during the quartet’s performance of Bobby Timmons’s Moanin’ (made famous by Art Blakey, Hoenig reminded us). He tuned the drums, then used his elbow pressure to make fine adjustments so that he could play notes from the chromatic scale. Unfortunately this feat, which brought a roar of approval after Hoenig had traded notes in a Q&A with the other instruments, became the main feature I took from this concert. I left wondering whether Hoenig would repeat it at each gig. (He did at the next one, at least).

That was a pity. I let myself focus on the style and the musician rather than the music. The performance was a real hit, so much so that the crowd outside was imitating the technique used in Hoenig’s trick. But in a way I wish Hoenig had been less the focus of this concert, because there was some great music played by the quartet.

They played The Painter, For Tracy (Hoenig’s wife), Ramilson’s Brew, Moanin’ and one more. In The Painter Hoenig commanded all the attention of the other players. The guitar seemed to offer cohesion whereas the drums were bringing change. I loved the expression in Oehlers’s solo in For Tracy, helped by Hoenig’s preparedness to back off, and Hekselman’s solo that was reminiscent of Stephen Magnusson. Guitar, sax and bass solos in Moanin’ were great. In the final rapid-fire piece, Hoenig’s delight showed like that of a mischievous child, and later his jaw was set in concentration. He is definitely totally focused and in the moment, but also a real showman.

This was a fun gig, displaying a virtuoso in action. My favourite pieces were The Painter and For Tracy.