30 April 2008

ArtSound live broadcasts

ArtSound will be broadcasting live jazz concerts on Friday nights. Some will be live from the studio; others will be from ArtSound's large collection of live recordings of Canberra and visiting jazz artists. Excellent idea, and look at press release for the distribution! Concerts start this 8pm, Friday with a quartet made up of Jazz School students. Here's the Press release.

Media Release
29 April 2008: for immediate use

ArtSound FM launches Friday Night Live Jazz Series

Canberra’s community music and arts radio station, ArtSound FM, is embarking on an exciting new program of live jazz broadcasts. Every Friday night, starting on May 2, audiences can tune in to hear local and national musicians playing superb jazz classics and originals.

The program will feature live performances from the ArtSound recording studios and pre-recorded concerts from venues around the Canberra region including the God’s Café, Canberra Southern Cross Club, the Street Theatre as well as some of the world's top festivals.

Friday Night Live will be co-hosted by long-standing jazz enthusiast and broadcaster Chris Deacon and local Jazz singer Lauren Black.

“The series has attracted a great deal of interest from the local jazz community,” Mr Deacon said.

“I am especially looking forward to sharing ArtSound’s large recorded archive of local jazz performances which has been built up over the past twenty years.”

Artists appearing on the program include the Wayne Kelly Trio, Kooky Fandango, John Black, Sally Greenaway Project, Eric Ajaye, Leigh Barker Quintet, Nils Rosendahl and the Kevin Hunt trio.

ArtSound FM has been a key element of Canberra’s music and arts scene since 1983. The station broadcasts a mix of classic, jazz, blues, folk and world music including arts news interviews and reviews. It is supplying the two hours of free production and broadcast time to musicians in the hope that it will add to Canberra’s already vibrant jazz community.

ArtSound FM is a member of the Fine Music Network and the European Broadcasting Union. Each band will receive a recording of their concert and there will be opportunities for distribution of the concerts internationally.

Appearing this week on Friday Night Live is a quartet of current students from the Jazz School featuring James LeFevre on sax, Chris Pound on bass, Hugh Deacon on drums and Austin Benjamin on piano.

Tune in every Friday night between 8pm - 10pm on FM 92.7 (90.3 Tuggeranong) to experience some of the best Australian talent on offer.

For more information and interviews contact:
ArtSound Publicity: Lauren Black, 0404 947 944
ArtSound FM General Manager: Chris Deacon, 6295 7444

27 April 2008

To CGGS & the nation

John Mackey’s quintet played for ABCFM today for a live to air broadcast on ABCFM. It was the last of four weekly concerts out of Canberra, and the one jazz outing amongst them. There was a keen crowd; family and friends, I’d guess, along with a smattering of local ABCFM listeners. The band has otherwise appeared as the Greg Stott band. Today it was the John Mackey Quintet.

These are top players around town, and they played mostly original charts, so it was an interesting outing. And well controlled to fit within the allowed 55 mins of the program. John was in good form, amusingly welcoming applause between tunes, and offering praise for jazz in Canberra. It annoys me that it is even an issue, but it always is. The big towns expect they rule the roost, and so they do, but that’s not to say there are not capable and interesting alternatives in the localities, and doubly so when we have a quality Jazz School like the local one at ANU.

The band played original music for all but the last tune, Elllington’s unmatchable In a sentimental mood. I’ve heard John play this solo sax intro at other times, and it’s always an impassioned and expressive piece. It’s truly lovely: every bit the lone saxist hanging from a loft window in NY. The originals were penned by John and Greg. John also talked of integrating tunes from the other members. I know that at least Wayne writes some capable compositions, so there’s more opportunity there. The tunes we heard were clearly identifiable with the different members. John’s were relatively simple and impulsive, a la Trane. Greg’s were more West Coast US, with images of Hollywood and soundtracks, and Pat Metheny came to mind. These are very different eras; both were entertaining and interesting, although maybe the mix was a little incongruous. It will be interesting to hear Wayne’s charts added to the mix.

The Canberra Grammar Girls’ School (CGGS) has a fabulous auditorium, with plenty of room for a large orchestra (I’ve seen several hundred on stage there for a performance of Polovtsian Dances, what with musicians and choirs), and a little phased array PA to boot. The sound on the day was very wet with reverb and some delay, and quite unbalanced, but I guess the techo was concentrating on the broadcast feed rather than the live mix. [See my italics below - apparently the PA wasn't even in use!] I lost much of the piano solos along with the guitar; the bass/drums combo was huge, and the sax was strong and rich. Listening to the more fusion-style tunes, I realised the power and richness of John’s tenor tone. I know he practices for tone and his accomplishment was evident with these more simple melodies. His tone was to die for: big and rounded, tight and clear.

I’ve since got an email from Andre, a music producer at the ABC. Apparently, the PA was only used for announcements on the day, so the sound which I heard as “wet with reverb” was a product of the room, or at least something other than the PA. I rechecked with some musos I know who were there. We had discussed poor sound on the day, and one had a good memory of it, so there was something wrong. One suggested a large door left open at the back of the stage and which opened onto a concrete storage area may have sucked in the sound and allowed it to reverberate. My apologies to the ABC. I am a constant listener to ABCRN and to me it’s a key civilising institution in Australia, so I’m fully in support. It leaves me wondering what the problem was, though. It’s a mystery as I can’t imagine the room itself isn’t well designed for audio. But again, my apologies to ABCFM. Eric, 7 July 2008

I enjoyed Wayne’s piano, especially fourths playing against some of the more straight-ahead jazz tunes. He mostly played grand piano, but it was often lost in the live mix. I also missed most of his synth solo on a nice fusion tune given the lack of balance, but it seemed promising from the snippets I heard. Perhaps I should have taken my radio! Greg played some lovely, comfortable and complex jazz solos. These were totally satisfying in the tradition of the guitar, but also displayed some of the newer styles, including some massive sweeps, which are themselves closely associated with Canberra. (The current international master of sweeping is Frank Gambale, who is Canberra born and bred. He’s the guitarist on about half a dozen Chick Corea albums: another secret of Canberra). I enjoyed Jason Varlet, a local bass player who is known and respected in the circles. He played some capable solos, some solid funk, and some interesting freer styles on his JB. Mark Sutton was the solid and reliable and ever capable drummer behind the whole event. He mostly took an involved but supportive role, but there were some hard snaps and lovely brush work in there too.

The tunes were originals, so the titles won’t mean much: Body Politics, Maybe tomorrow, and Grey sky by Greg; We’ll see what happens, It’s the only thing to do, and Contemplation by John. And In a sentimental mood by Ellington.

This was an interesting and very professional concert although just a little restrained. You have to be when you’re broadcasting to the millions (or thousands?) on ABC radio. Hopefully there were many more who got an earful of jazz on a Sunday afternoon out of Canberra.

The John Mackey Quintet were John Mackey (tenor sax), Greg Stott (guitar), Wayne Kelly (piano), Jason Varlet (electric bass) and Mark Sutton (drums).

Trinity residency ends

The long residency of Trident is coming to an end this Tuesday night at Trinity Bar in Dickson. Trident has been involved various musos for its 4-1/2 year stint. It's developed into a cool, funky lounge-jazz scene: comfortable and very relaxed. Famed for long, solo-rich, grooves, that perennial Real Book favourite Madonna's Material girl, and a wonderful opportunity to play "Spot the (disguised) melody". Various players have sat in over time, but the main stalwarts have been Charlie Meadows (guitar), Tim Willis (guitar), Nick Horweg (bass), and of course the current lineup of James Luke (bass), Lachlan Coventry (guitar), Chris Thwaite (drums) and Ben Marston (trumpet). I'm expecting a wake on the last night.

What’s on - May

  • Thredbo Jazz Festival over the weekend of 2-4 May. Features Leroy Jones (trumpet soloist with Harry Connick) and Katja Toivolo (trombone from USA & Finland) with Australia’s Anthony Howe (drums) and Kevin Hunt (piano)
  • Wunderlust plays the Gods on 6 May
  • Jon Gordon, highly regarded US alto sax, plays with a Jazz School Ensemble at the Band Room, 7 May. A biggie
  • Vince Jones plays Southern Cross Club, 9 May
  • Don Byron and the Ivey Divey Trio (NY) play at Street Theatre, 17 May. A biggie
  • Jazz jam at the Folkus Room, 17 May
  • Jazz Eisteddfod at West Belconnen Leagues Club, 30 May
  • Not May, but close enough … Sonny Rollins plays the Sydney Opera House, 1 June

  • If you have a gig to announce, just post it below as a Comment.

    These are just selections. See also CJCalendar | CJVenues | Hippo

    24 April 2008

    Gone to ground

    By Daniel Wild

    With funky underpinnings, hard beats and soulful guitar, led by sax playing that used every register, the Subterraneans offer a fusion of styles that would not be out of place in front of 1500 people at WOMADelaide. Last night they entertained a fragmentary crowd at the Hippo Bar and surely deserved more listeners.

    While it is expected that many people don’t arrive until the second set, it was not until the third that some “merry” stragglers boisterously reflected the intensity of the music with some flailing dancing. The second set was the fullest the venue got and no one was ever required to stand. When there’s only standing room jazz at the Hippo is really alive. Maybe everyone wanted to get up early for the Olympic torch relay.

    The Subterraneans’ first set was the best as they made sure that first impressions last. James Ryan exchanged some atonal musings in rhythmic free form with Steve Hunter on bass by way of intro before the band launched into the full-blooded first tune, Portobello Blues.

    Hunter puts his whole body into his playing: wrapped in a scarf to shield him from the onset of the Canberra winter, his dark and imposing electric bass swung with the momentum of his solid and inventive lines. He uses the full range and his solos sound like another seamless section of the music, rather than just a solo over accompaniment. Ryan and Flower added to this seamlessness by executing vamps that bolstered Hunter’s virtuosic playing.

    There were elements of ska in this first piece, with chordal accompaniments solidly on the offbeat. Although one chord would be used for extended periods, the inventiveness of the soloing developed the thematic material of the head and intro. Both Ryan and Hunter showed their ability to play fast sixteenth note runs over quarter beats that were about 140bpm.

    The second song continued the intense driving playing, with James Hauptmann on drums providing energetic straight-eights with furious hits on the snare that caused audience members to involuntarily blink. Along with his brother and sister, James studied at the Canberra Jazz School. He gets different sounds out of the steel rims of the drums by hitting them further up or down on the stick. The rims aren’t used solely for embellishment: at times they provide the actual beat. The force of his playing caused his bass drum to imperceptibly inch away due to the knocks it was taking, requiring Hauptmann to dexterously pull it back in between beats.

    Apparently Aaron Flower prepared the second number over only two rehearsals. This should come as no surprise given his technical ability. He won the National Jazz Award for guitar at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival last year. He was also practising in between sets. His authoritative soloing interwove bluesy and chromatic jazz lines with punctuated power chords. Most noticeable is his ability to build a solo, starting with a few low key intervals expanded out to wavy melodic eighth notes. If he peaks early he pulls back and starts building again, unlike other players who just keep going or go off the boil. This gives his music greater narrative depth, meaning and refinement.

    James Hauptmann did well to keep his rhythm during a 7/4 piece in the first set. I had several discussions as to the time-signature of this piece. CJ’s editor suggested it was 15/4 (8/4+7/4) against the head and 8x7/4+1x4/4 against the solos, but wasn’t too sure. The chord progression was built on minor third chords a minor third apart, giving a semblance of subterranean conspiracy.

    The second set continued the frenetic pace of the first. First up was a piece called Rush. When one listener yelled out “Roxanne” (or perhaps “Roxette”: either way the chord and rhythmic progression was decidedly rock), James Ryan facetiously replied that that was for the third set. The pace slowed with the introspective Borders of Thought and the third set was decidedly more laid back. Perhaps fatigue, physical and mental, had taken its toll on the band. The sheer intensity was certainly demanding on the audience.

    The best piece of the second set, and the climax of the gig, was a composition called Habitat. Drawing on a jungle setting, there were all the growls, cahoos and calls reminiscent of Dizzy Gillespie who made a Night in Tunisia the birth of modernism, only superseded by some efforts of Mingus’ big band. Hauptmann was in his element here with exuberant African patterns. Ryan imitated birds, elephants and other mysterious unidentified wildlife that conjured up the elusive closeness of being in the middle of a lively animal commune.

    The final set settled into Weather Report beats and straighter playing. A sixteen bar blues with country/rock feel gave The Subterraneans a more straightforward template. Hauptmann’s drumming was still assertive and bold, while Hunter embellished his forthright bass with well-timed chords in the middle of the fret board.

    This is the type of gig you tell your friends about (where were they?). It reaches the primal impulses inside (and out, if you’re inclined to tap your feet or nod your head, or can’t help yourself and have to get up and dance). If you’re a musician, you’ll be asking yourself why you can’t play like this and you’ll go home and practise. If you’re not a musician, you’ll be back for more, eager to contribute your “yeahs!” and “that’s great boys!” in between solos.

    The Subterraneans were James Ryan (tenor sax), Aaron Flower (guitar), Steve Hunter (electric bass) and James Hauptmann (drums).

    20 April 2008

    Jam jar

    I got to the second Jazz at the Folkus jam session on Saturday. It was not quite what I had expected. The music was fairly mainstream, rather than out-there modern, but jazz has a history, and it’s made up of a rich tapestry of historical styles. These were some that I love, but don’t always indulge in.

    The host band for the event was the In Full Swing big band. It’s a community band based in Belconnen. It’s made up of about 20 players and is led by Nathan Sciberras. This is swing, the popular music of the 40s or thereabouts: think Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and the crooners, but with some popular modern classics. I love this stuff, and it’s become very popular again with the emergence of Sinatra-stylists like Michael Buble. The repertoire ranged from Cry me a river and Fever, through Lady is a tramp, Georgia, Night and day and Take 5, to Song of the Volga Boatman. All good stuff and the playing was satisfying. There was a very reliable beat from a capable rhythm section, and some good swing and interplay from the horns. The intonation was a bit sus at times, but the charts were professional, the dynamics were strong and the enjoyment was obvious. I took note of Samantha Seckold on bass and several solos, Lauren Black on vocals and Nathan himself as leader. It was a nice one all round and much enjoyed. Congrats to the band. I’ve grown to admire such community activities in recent years. Oh brave new town that has such things in it!

    Next came my band, Toucani. We were Trio Toucan, but we recently added a sax so the small name change. We chose to do an originals set, but did sneak in our theme-tune standard, the lovely and slightly kitsch Out of nowhere. Most of our originals are penned by Daniel, who writes harmonically rich tunes as only pianists can. I wrote two others, and these are typical bassist tunes: latin and rhythm-based but with reasonably complex call and response melodies. I like to think we introduced a harder post-Coltrane edge to the proceedings, and hopefully our mistakes just appeared as early-60s explorations. Toucani are Daniel Wild (piano), John Baczynski (tenor), Brenton Homes (drums) and Eric Pozza (bass).

    Kooky Fandango followed with a very different set. KF seem to me a bridge to more popular and bluesy styles, which makes them a sellable proposition, only enforced with the female vocals up front. The players are good, the style is clean and precise, the levels are restrained. This is quite a professional outfit and was popular with the audience. Peter is a well-known local player on his 6-string Alembic bass. I especially noticed one massively fast, flamenco style solo. Cameron is classically trained so his intonation is always good and Nathan Sciberras (leader of In Full Swing) reappeared on baritone sax giving some interesting counterpoint. Courtney has a strong and deep female voice, which suited the blues-influenced style. Kooky Fandango are Courtney Stark (vocals), Cameron Smith (trumpet), Nathan Sciberras (baritone sax), Peter Barta (bass), George Cora (drums).

    A jam session ended the day with players from the In Full Swing small jazz ensemble. The tunes were obvious ones of the period: Summertime (hate it!), Caravan (love it!), Don’t bug me, hug me (more 12 bar jump blues than jazz), and Don’t get around much anymore. It was a bit too subdued for me, but I warmed to the head of Caravan, which seems to be impossible to play without passion.

    I hope to see a wider mix of players at future jams, including a smattering from the Jazz School. James LeFevre might bring a few along when he provides the host band in a few months time. The venue is roomy; the beers are club prices; the entry is free for musos; there’s a very impressive PA and a big car park just out the door.

    Jazz at Folkus jams are held the third Saturday every month, 2-5pm. Entry free for players; otherwise $12/$10. Folkus Room, Serbian Club, Mawson. Queries contact Cameron Smith 0422 842 605

    18 April 2008

    Norway via NY

    New York came to Canberra again this week. This one had a mix of Australian and Scandinavian connections. Both of these are moderately common in Canberra, with several Australians living in, or visiting, the jazz mecca and returning for tours, and Scandinavian musicians travelling the world with state support. Both are highlights of my jazz year.

    This visit was from a master Norwegian guitarist, Bjorn Solli, accompanied by Adam Pache, an Australian resident in the big apple, and Alex Bonham, a young but very competent Sydney bassist. Bjorn apparently performs perfectly passable Sinatra-style vocals, but we didn’t hear these on the night. This was an evening of sharp, clear, well articulated guitar. It started in a mainstream and lyrical style (the second tune had me thinking of George Benson and the White Rabbit album). By the end of the night, the guitar was more atonal and noticeably more expansive, and the last set was both gentler in form and more intense in impact. My guitarist friends were commenting on the good tone throughout the range: evident delay, slight reverb and a bit of distortion crunch. They also noted pop influences, some strains of George Benson and Kurt Rosenwinkel, and lots of fourths lines and occasional sweeps.

    A drummer friend was similarly admiring of Adam Pache, commenting that he was a “good listener”. I heard him as again quite mainstream, displaying great control and full tones, often at low volumes, and I loved the snare-heavy, rudiment-based cross rhythms in his solos. The bass role was ably provided by Alex Bonham, a young but very capable player out of Sydney. He was not actually aged 11 (despite suggestions by Bjorn) and his playing certain didn’t suggest it. His was a rounded tone which was most evident in quiet passages, with confident walking, sometimes running, bass. His solos were often walking-speed and exploring chordal tones on open strings or fingered at varying pitches.

    The tunes were a mix of originals (presumably from Bjorn) and a few standards. His Happy accidents (for which jazz improvisation was its inspiration) was the tune that reminded me of George Benson. Bjorn played a Waltz for Lieder (?) that was definitely a triple time, but seemed more 6/8 to me. We also heard Skylark, Tenor madness, Bill Evans’ Turn out the stars, and perhaps my favourite solo was on I’ll be seeing you.

    The Hippo acoustics and environment often result in pretty loud gigs. This was a quiet one but there was real attention from the audience during the quietest passages. It goes to show both the quality of the music on the night, and the fact that volume doesn’t necessarily command attentiveness. Thanks to the big apple and the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy for bringing this to Hippo.

    Bjorn Solli (guitar) played with Adam Pache (drums) and Alex Boneham (bass).

    9 April 2008

    Folkus jazz jams

    Here’s another piece in the jazz puzzle being put in place. There’s now a monthly jazz jam session open to players around Canberra. Cameron Smith, trumpeter from Kooky Fandango, is the convenor of the sessions. Here’s Cameron’s announcement:

    The Folkus Room (based at the Serbian Club, 5 Heard St Mawson) is hosting a monthly jazz afternoon on the 3rd Saturday of the month from 2-5pm.

    The format will see a host band opening and closing the session, with the opportunity for walk up/jam session slots throughout the afternoon.

    April 19th will feature In Full Swing Big Band.

    IFS, led by Nathan Sciberras, is a 20 piece big band performing a range of swing, popular songs and modern jazz.

    The IFS small ensemble will lead the jam session.

    The intention of Jazz at the Folkus is to provide a venue for local musicians to perform and network with people with similar interests.

    All musicians, rehearsed acts, singers, school bands and choirs are welcome to perform.

    The Folkus room features a dance floor, bar and light meals are available.

    Contact Cameron Smith 0422 842 605 for information on being a host band or just bring your instruments/voice and join us for a great afternoon of music making.

    General entry is $12/$10.

    Entry is free for walk up acts, however bookings are advised.

    This is a great opportunity to promote the local community of players. Cameron has had discussions with the Canberra Jazz Club, so there’s a link to some of the longer-standing players around town. And the jams are open to school kids, so there’s a link to the next generation.

    This is exciting and another piece of a puzzle to promote jazz in Canberra. As I see it, Canberra now has the Jazz School, ArtSound and its studio, CanberraJazz.net and its reports, pics and calendar, lots of musos out performing, Hippo and several other venues, links to the local jazz club and a relaxed venue for musos to mix and play together; even a history (Cool capital by John Sharpe). It all bodes well. Thanks and best of luck to Cameron from CJ.

    4 April 2008

    Splendid six stringer

    Every now and then you attend a concert that gives you real pleasure, leaves you wishing for more. Stephen Magnusson at the Jazz School Band Room last night was one of those. A good concert requires great competency, of course, but that’s not enough. It may be a mixture of many things: the environment, the audience, a compelling repertoire, the band clicking, the mood you’re in. I’d only seen Steve at Wangaratta for a short time in the local Cathedral. I could hear the capability of the performance, but the pews and paraphernalia didn’t appeal, and I only caught a few minutes anyway. But the Band Room is more purposeful and the performers are closer and more intimate. The result was a stunner.

    Stephen had come up from Melbourne for an afternoon workshop and this performance. He played with a select group of students from the Jazz School on tunes they had presumably first heard on the day, on a borrowed guitar, and with John Mackey and Miroslav Bukovsky sitting in for a few tunes.

    Stephen played with a light, airy, open approach. His fingerwork and resultant tonality was mostly clipped, so each note was individually articulated. It’s not an uncommon style, although totally another thing from the smooth, furbished styles of many guitarists. I hear a similar approach in some masters who seem to have tired of sleek and smooth, and seek expression and substance. He ranged widely and freely over the fingerboard, as you’d expect: up and down and across. The lines were lovely: wide and narrow intervals; flowing and long and strong; diatonic, but occasionally and strongly dissonant. He switched neck positions freely and formed fingers constantly around the shapes of arpeggios and chords. Solos often sounded of ragged valve distortion, perhaps from his Fender amp, but he also played with a (volume?) pedal for smoothed attacks, and for one tune used a pedal called a Memory Man for what seemed like looped but reversed backing. When comping, he was variously chordal or contrapuntal or soloistic, but always busy and responsive. His chords featured many richly coloured extensions. His solos retained interest and variation for multiple repeats of choruses. They were fast but not usually blistering, although there were some lines that left the room holding its breath. And always clear and melodic in intention.

    Obviously, I was transfixed by Stephen’s playing, but I did catch some of his band. Bill continues to play wonderfully; a few very apt solos, and solid, interesting backing. I enjoyed his take on Rhythm changes, where he played obvious notes, but with lots of unexpected gaps, making for a modern and interesting sound while still clearly defining the rapid but prosaic changes. Austin made me take note with some stunning lines dropped in neatly through the night. He concentrated strongly, often enough dropped out to leave space for others to comp, returned with strong chordal work; very nice playing. Evan can look a little ungraceful, but close your eyes and you’ll hear he’s actually responsive and intense and smooth where it matters, in his playing. James played some very satisfying solos in his bluesy style, with occasional screams and stutters. Matt Lustri was restrained on the night but supported capably. The band members came and went for different tunes, with only Steve resident through the night. The end of each set featured a blow with John Mackey and Miroslav Bukovsky, both local staff and respected senior players. This brought different styles and sounds: lively and exciting approaches to standard tunes on the blues and rhythm changes.

    There were some interesting tunes. The first was light and airy, mostly with a simple descending 4 chord, 4 bar structure. There was a hick, hillbilly tune that would have been crass if not so well performed. Stephen composed this to express the initial boredom and slow awakening to the beauty (and creepiness) of the outback during a 10hr drive. The looped guitar mentioned above was accompanied with brushes, and was based on Peter Gabriel’s Don’t give it up. There was a version of Somewhere over the rainbow by Steve and Miro. Stephen introduced it as “a bit daggy” but it was performed in a captivating modern style with the melody well hidden and only appearing well into the performance. There was a tune dedicated to Gary Costello, that I felt I‘d heard somewhere before. Gary was obviously a much respected bassist in the Melbourne scene.

    It was all over too soon, as is common with these gigs at the Band Room. The early start and finish times makes them very comfortable mid-week outings. We all departed for an early night after a wonderfully satisfying few sets of jazz from someone who’s clearly an Australian master.

    Stephen Magnusson (guitar) played with Evan Dorrian (drums), Matt Lustri (guitar), James LeFevre (tenor sax), Bill Williams (bass), Austin Benjamin (piano), John Mackey (tenor sax), Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet).

    2 April 2008

    Godly tuba

    Gareth and his mates performed last night at the Gods as the Gareth Hill Quartet. It was a return performance of the Sam Young Quartet which performed at Hippo’s a few weeks back, this time without Miroslav Bukovsky sitting in. As sometimes happens with jazz players, this band appears under different names when the bookings call for it. When they go incommunicado, they can also appear as Lookwell, a name taken from a favoured, but very short-lived (single episode?), TV program. Confused?

    The performance was not so confusing. This was a quieter and more attentive environment for the band, and it highlighted the interplay and good natured friendship between the players. The playing was much as observed at Hippo, but it was all clearer and more evident in this listeners’ environment. Aron’s guitar was malleable, sometimes dirty, and often intriguingly indeterminate in pitch. Valdis played some lovely, often simple but always tasty solos and backed with interesting counterpoint or ostinato lines. Sam watched the others studiously, and played well structured solos and responsive support. Gareth is a keystone, at one time holding a 6 feel across 4/4 for a lengthy passage of melody and solos, and at various other times soloing and backing with comfort and solidity.

    I caught more of the names and composers of tunes this time. They played Scofield’s Cool and Ellington’s African flower. African flower is a lovely, unforced Ellington melody (aren’t they all?) and it was a treat to hear it played on a sultry and sinuous trombone. The other tunes were all originals, roughly equally shared between Aron, Sam and Gareth. I heard post bop, New Orleans marches, fusion, lullabies, Wunderlust and more amongst the styles, so there was variety.

    It was a worthy return performance, another satisfying concert at the Gods, and another recording to listen out for on ArtSound over coming weeks or months.

    The band comprised Gareth Hill (bass), Aron Lyon (guitar), Valdis Thomann (trombone, tuba) and Sam Young (drums).