Tag Archives: Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival


Sad news this morning of the passing of loved and respected saxophonist David Ades.

David had been seriously ill for some time, yet always seemed so full of vitality. It is hard to believe that he has gone, but as tributes flow in it is clear that David and his music will remain with us.

Our thoughts are with his family and many close friends.

These images speak for themselves. I have also added an excerpt below from the review of last year’s Wangaratta festival gig, David Ades & Friends, which will long remain in my memory.

Thank you David, for your music, your energy and your refusal to give in.

Vale David Ades

David Ades

On fire: David Ades at Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival 2012

David Ades

David Ades

David Ades

David Ades

From 2012 at Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival review:

Alto saxophonist Ades has been seriously ill, but in WPAC Theatre on Saturday he was on fire, well assisted by Julien Wilson on tenor, Jonathan Zwartz on bass and former expat Danny Fischer (he’s back home) in great form. Joe the Kid, in honour of Ades’s dad, was ripping stuff, and Dreaming in Colour provided some great exchanges between Wilson and Ades. Marching Orders had some angst, delivered in a blistering fashion by Ades, and the closing piece had Wilson on bass clarinet before an all-you-could-ask-for solo by Ades. This was a top gig.




David Ades

David Ades


Melbourne International Jazz Festival Club Sessions at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club:
10.30pm Monday 3 June 2013 — David Ades & Friends
8pm Tuesday 4 June 2013 — Open Loose
10.30pm Tuesday 4 June 2013 — Snarky Puppy

On 26 August last year, musicians gathered at Uptown Jazz Cafe in a benefit concert for saxophonist David Ades, who was in Germany receiving treatment for cancer. On 3 November, Ades came on stage at the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre to drive one of the 2012 Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival‘s highlights. Ades was on fire as he joined Julien Wilson on tenor, Jonathan Zwartz on bass and Danny Fischer on drums to launch his album A Glorious Certainty, which was recorded in Brooklyn in 2011. (See Ausjazz review: Musical conversations say it all.)

The MIJF club session on 3 June gave Ades an opportunity to revisit the album with his friends from Open Loose, with whom he recorded it — Tony Malaby on tenor, Mark Helias on contra bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. Ades did not waste the opportunity, leading us through the album songs with amazing energy. After a blistering opening (was it La Ripaille?), highlights included mingling alto and tenor in Melissa (dedicated to artist Melissa Thompson, Ades’s wife until her death in 2005), the resplendently spiky Dreaming In Colour and the minimalist textures of This Land, which again featured some beautiful reed work, with alto and tenor independent yet unified, and a great bass solo. The closing Philstream (for Phil Treloar) produced more entanglements of the saxes, some plaintive vibrato, bird-like cries and a deep drone from Helias’s bow.


Tony Malaby

Tony Malaby

In the smaller room at Bennetts the following night, Open Loose played while David Ades watched. As expected, the music was much different, though not that similar to the Mark Helias material aired at The Forum Upstairs on Sunday 2 June with the Monash Art Ensemble (Ausjazz review: Band on the run). I felt a strong groove from the trio as I burrowed through the throng to catch a glimpse of the players. Just ahead, off-duty drummer Ronny Ferella was moving to the vibe, which was surprisingly gentle, yet totally involving.

Rather than epic complexity and frequent change, this outing was a celebration of texture and timbre, with each instrument given the time and space to drift in and out of our collective consciousness. This was music to luxuriate in, to sink into and move with, to give in to and absorb utterly. Open Loose took us places that were visceral yet not driven into us. By contrast with the Ades gig the previous night, Tony Malaby was much more prominent, exploring the range of the tenor — especially the lower registers. Cleaver also showed a lot more of his capabilities, with some killer solos that were nevertheless far more expressive than mere crash ‘n’ bash. Helias contributed arresting strength and also explored the deepest of depths. I did not want this gig to end.


It did, of course, and I had to decide whether to go next door for the second sell-out Snarky Puppy gig of the night or stay for some hard core straight ahead jazz from Sean Wayland on piano, Brett Hirst on bass, Kneebody’s Nate Wood on drums and James Muller unexpectedly on guitar. From comments later, staying put would have been a pretty good choice, but I had to find out what all the fuss was about. What was Snarky Puppy up to that had sold out The Forum downstairs as well as two unscheduled club gigs?

Snarky Puppy

Snarky Puppy

I’m not sure that I have an adequate answer, but it’s fair to say the larger room (Jazz Lab) was full of young people who probably would have been happier jettisoning the chairs so they could move more readily to the raw funk, soul and jazz of Snarky Puppy. There was a rock feel to this gig, and the smiling faces and energy in the band and crowd guaranteed success from the start. The musicians in this collective (not all came on tour from the US) are talented. The band is practised, knows what it’s about and how to woo a crowd. At one point the audience was enthusiastically participating in two-part harmonies and just bursting to get involved. There was a nice, long interchange between the percussionist, Nate Werth, and drummer, Robert “Sput” Searight.

It was like being at a “jazz” party and surely that’s no bad thing.

I left before vocalist Alison Wedding joined the band, but I’m certain she won the hearts of patrons with ease.


It was late, I was tired, and this music lacked the tension, dissonance and unexpectedness that make much improvised music so engrossing. That said, it was great to see this venue packed with young fans of live music.

The Wayland gig was still going, but the doorway seemed too crowded, so I headed for the train.



Tamara Murphy with her ensemble performing Big Creatures Little Creatures

Tamara Murphy with her ensemble performing Big Creatures & Little Creatures


Murphy’s Law performed Big Creatures & Little Creatures at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne on November 11, 2012

I don’t know much about modular furniture, but I have a hunch it is fairly dull. You have a box-shaped couch seating three, you add a couple of modules and it seats five.

Forget Ikea. Tamara Murphy‘s suite Big Creatures & Little Creatures is not at all dull., but it is “modular” — the order in which its movements are played can be determined, or improvised, on the night.

A bonus of this approach is that the suite will be different each time it is played, though the main movements (big creatures) may be similar. This potential for variation is particularly enticing and encourages listeners to pay attention, especially if they have heard an earlier version. It sets in train a gentle form of suspense — what will this ensemble play next?

Jordan Murray with Murphy's Law.

Jordan Murray with Murphy’s Law.

Big Creatures & Little Creatures, for which Murphy won PBS Young Elder of Jazz Commission, features two drummers  — Danny Farrugia and Joe Talia — in the line-up, along with Murphy on bass, Jordan Murray  on trombone and Nashua Lee on guitar. The work was premiered in June this year at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and revisited at Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival 2012.

Tamara Murphy with her ensemble performing Big Creatures Little Creatures

Tamara Murphy with her ensemble performing Big Creatures & Little Creatures

I found this performance even more enjoyable and sustaining than the MIJF premiere. Again, the music was immediately compelling, so that any plans I had to pay careful attention and record some thoughts were soon abandoned. I wanted to experience the immediacy, the in-the-moment nature of it, rather than trying to be a detached observer.

Joe Talia and Nashua Lee with Murphy's Law

Joe Talia and Nashua Lee with Murphy’s Law.

Yet I did reflect on the reasons for its appeal. This suite is engrossing due to its explorations of texture, the interplay, the level of detail, the attention of the musicians to their tasks, their focus and their responsiveness. Of course, these are not unusual features of improvised music.

Also, there are the combinations of instruments that come in and out of play as the music develops, swelling in volume and growing in intensity, then backing off. All sorts of sounds are appealing: the droning ‘bone against the patterns created by guitar and drums; the stronger, declarative trombone eventually jettisoned by drums as they exude the patter of tiny feet; the rasp of brass and the insistence of guitar; the hints and suggestions in a spare solo; the muted rustle of drum sticks on knees; the sound of one drummer’s hands clapping; the ‘slapping’ sound of Murray’s mute.

Jordan Murray

Jordan Murray with Murphy’s Law.

In scripted parts the band was tight, scintillating. Breakouts occurred, as if someone had left the gate open, but the escapes were short-lived. As if not sufficiently satisfying, they had to be repeated. But the instances of explosive release were cathartic.

Joe Talia with Murphy's Law

Joe Talia with Murphy’s Law.

There was grace in a solo by Murphy, then solemnity in Lee’s guitar chords and simplicity in the patterns he sustained behind the bowed bass. Guitar and trombone acted as effective anchors as notes of an emerging melody floated free from the bow.

Quite a lot of the suite was slow, but for periods it gradually gathered momentum as the ‘bone and two drummers built intensity over the guitar’s musings.

Tamara Murphy with her ensemble performing Big Creatures Little Creatures

Tamara Murphy with her ensemble performing Big Creatures & Little Creatures.

Being at this live performance prompted me to reflect on the value of jazz as experienced this way rather than on a recording. Musicians are releasing their work via live streaming, digital downloads and on USB flash drives, as well as on vinyl. But can it ever match the immediacy and impact of listening in the moment?

Maybe not, but I have been playing Big Creatures & Little Creatures a lot, before and after this live rendition, and, though it is not quite the same as being there, it  does the trick. And there is always the option of doing the modular thing by selecting the tracks at random.

Certainly there is every reason to drive past Ikea and find your modular suite on CD or at a live music venue.


Tamara Murphy with her ensemble performing Big Creatures Little Creatures

Tamara Murphy with her ensemble performing Big Creatures Little Creatures

Tamara Murphy has a website

And to buy Big Creatures & Little Creatures (both the physical album and digitally) visit Bandcamp.

Jessica Nicholas reviewed this performance at Bennetts Lane for The Age.