29 June 2012

Explosives

Here’s one I didn’t want to miss. Niels is going overseas soon and Michael and Anna Azzopardi were in town so this gig. It’s enough to say there was some explosive playing and it was absolutely expected. This was Hippo, the music was mostly fusion/funk or thereabouts and the playing was exciting and awe-inspiring. Anna and Michael each provided some tunes and they were very good. Michael’s tunes had his busy, bubbly musical personality. Anna’s were a bit more restrained and generally with a richer harmonic underlay. They were all seriously presentable tunes and they lacked for little against Brecker Brothers and even Corea’s Spain. Anna’s violin was luscious. It’s an uncommon tone in jazz, but hearing Anna this night and one of her influences, Jean Luc Ponty, a year or so ago, I reckon that’s disappointing. It’s attractive, mobile, subtly synth-like (or perhaps it’s truer to say that synths are often like strings), sustained tone, and quite unlike anything else on the jazz podium and it sat well with Niels on tenor, in unison or in response or counterpoint. Niels swapped to flute for the head to Spain, but otherwise this was amplified tenor, sometimes effected. He also maintains a real melodic core, but lets go often enough with dazzling flourishes. This as mostly fusion, so there are furious heads and frequent odd syncopations and some devilish little finishes. It surprised me when they carried them off with limited practice (and good humour when it didn’t quite work) but they were good. This is also a boys’ world of solos. Michael was the essential explosive on stage. What to say to such joyful commitment and sheer virtuosity? I felt the solos could just ramble (or sprint) on indefinitely with new ideas, and these ideas all placed and released with ease and seriousness and bubbling excitement. Hands flailing; substitutions galore; organ or piano or synth or wah; whatever. And always just so apt. I recorded the gig and listened after with amazement at the correctness of the lines and, in Spain, the clear references to Chick’s own takes. But moving on to James, he too was a star. He was playing a Roland effected bass (apparently not midi) that was fuzzed or synthed or just plain clean, and he played massive, fast, easily over the whole neck and into the highest frets with a strangely thumb-free technique that hints at double bass. What a performance! Solid or funky grooves, rich ornamentation and speed and excitement. And loud. Great fun. Not least was Evan sitting at the kit, busy, sharp, clear, taking an occasional solo, picking up on band ostinatos, rhythmically mirroring the elation of the band around him. If I sound stunned, yeah I am. It was not totally unexpected, because I knew this would be a hot gig, but just realising how good this was. Listening back to the recording was an eye-opener, hearing lines that were more mushy in a noisy bar environment. There was some truly hot playing here that would grace most any venue. What a hot gig … and a large part was thrown together the night before. I’m impressed!

Niels Rosendahl (tenor, flute), Anna Azzopardi (violin) and Michael Azzopardi (keyboard) reprised their old band with James Luke (bass) and Evan Dorrian (drums) at Hippo Bar.

28 June 2012

Taking me back

At least for Fats Homicide’s first set, I felt I’d been taken back to jam bands of the ‘70s: guitar based trios; rock rhythms at medium and slow 4/4 tempos; guitar or bass solos with effects; limited structure and dynamics. The effects were more sophisticated (I liked an arpeggiator, and the synth and echos were extreme and interesting) and the playing was better (these are all trained players, after all), but the outcome (and I guess the intent) was similar. I liked it well enough but it's not so much a current interest. The fact that 2XX was recording just seemed to fit this scene and even some faces seemed new. But then the last tune of the first set was different: a sweet ballad was a delightful change and it set up for a very different second set. It started with a nice waltz drum feel with a descending bass pattern and lovely distorted guitar melody and solo. Matt is a lovely guitarist, and I enjoyed several fuzzy, sustained guitar solos during the night, and his leads and feels were always suited for the tunes and nicely leading, in the way that voices lead. Simon dropped in lots of chords in this format and some rabid effects which I loved but could hardly identify with the bass. I particularly liked one small, simple passage of pure Precision-bass styled tone but it was rare (he was playing with lots of effects and distortion), and also some nice riffs that gave more rhythmic solidity to the music. The bass chords filled out the sound, but I preferred the definition and openness and rhythmic form of the riffs. They played a country rock beat with tremolo guitar playing blues licks with sparse bass chords which was lovely, but I wasn’t too keen on its descent into metal distorted repeating quarter-note bass. Then more metal with syncopated bass riff. Kay was obviously having a good time on this and this was infectious. There were smiles going around with the audaciousness of it all.

So what of Fats? It’s got its rough, brash side and that joy in extravagance but there’s also order and even sweetness peeping through at times. Not sure they’d want to admit it, though. Fats Homicide are Matt Lustri (guitar), Simon Milman (bass) and Kay Chinnery (drums) and I expect they will appear sometime soon on 2XX.

24 June 2012

Tangovariety

Whimsical and eclectic were Megan’s words and they may be right. Last night we saw Marcella Fiorillo again, playing Piazzolla. Marcella is wonderfully capable and richly interpretive of the Piazzolla piano repertoire, and Piazzolla is a hugely approachable master of the written, but perhaps not danced, tango. Given this, it was interesting that this performance, the launch of her new CD, was somewhat like a variety performance with an intellectual and cultural twist. It was compered (and presumably recorded) by ArtSound, opened by HE Pedro Villagra Delgado, the Argentine Ambassador, the music was presented and described by Dr Gerardo Dirié, Head of Music Studies at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music (yes, they still have one), accompanied by poetry from Geoff Page and tango dancing from Karina and Fabian Conca. So it was a rich collage of Argentine-related arts and intellectual pursuits and the suits and Spanish in the foyer confirmed the cultural connection. Marcella played brilliantly, and Piazzolla was his fabulous self with his NewYork connections and simple chordal movements and ardent embellishments. I felt Marcella played with considerable romantic passion, but thinking on, how could she not? I was particuarly fascinated by some intros, perhaps Otoño Porteño or Parafrasis sobre Adios Nonino, that were rich with dissonance and freedom that was lost somewhat in the busily embellished but essentially simple chords. I chuckled (as I do these days when I’m particularly enjoying well performed music) at some of the complex latin ardour and some truly fascinating time slippage between the lines in left and right hands, and I felt quite touched by a piece that was dedicated by Piazzolla to his recently deceased father. I chuckled also when Dr Dirié made comparisons with Pink Floyd’s Money and Iron Butterfly’s Inna gadda de vida (now that’s taking me back!). I think that was in context of bass riffs and walking bass. His other references were more serious, to jazz and New York in the ‘50s/’60s when Piazzolla lived there (lucky man) and Mahler and perhaps Ellington and Gershwin. I also chuckled with pleasure with the formality and brooding sensuality of the tango. I enjoyed the dancing with its distant faces and lightly placed hands and precisely flailing legs and that suit that just fell off Fabian as suits used to drape from my tailor-father’s gaunt body. I enjoyed Geoff’s poetry and the mysterious voice over the PA that spoke of Maria de Buenos Aires for one tune. The Spanish was delightful and toneful if only partly understood. I learnt various things: of Spanish pronunciation (the “c” in Marcella is pronounced as English “s” not “ch”: strange for me with my Italian background); of the milonga; of the tango. There were some minor haggles: the PA voice in Maria was way too loud; the tango dancers danced to recordings (but we heard some fabulous bandoneón playing, so OK). I would have just as much liked a night of Marcella, but this was more an overview of tango and the culture and for that it was great. So, a variety performance, perhaps, but informed and skilled and an entree to a culture whose country and continent I have yet to visit.

Marcella Fiorillo played Piazzolla at the Street Theatre. HE Pedro Villagra Delgado introduced, Dr Gerardo Dirié described, Geoff Page recited and Karina and Fabian Conca danced.

23 June 2012

Baghdad, maybe Paris

I heard Dave Rodriguez’s quartet as American music with an air of desperation: open plains, dry mesas, straight roads. Think of the film Baghdad Café, or perhaps Paris Texas, ie, road movies.The music was open, sparse. I heard drum’n’bass grooves, all sorts of guitars: screaming rock or jazz and reams of effects - echo and synth and loops and swells and wah and more, sampled voices. Someone commented how broad is the jazz palette these days. These are not standards and I’m not sure I heard any swing, but this music is informed by mainstream jazz skills. I remember Bill saying once how great a training ground were the standards, but this was even eights and solid ostinato bass. Ed was replete with his detailed, wonderfully dynamic and bodily-involved drumming, touching with all the grooves and melodies. Both Bill and Ed played some hugely expressive solos, tempered and lyrical but also with releases into furious cadenzas or longer passages. Ed was telling me after of the complexity of the drum rudiments that can be inverted and otherwise contorted to make hundreds of different patterns. You could hear this technical fluency in both these players: there’s intense application here. Casey was not so much right hand solos and left hand chords as rippling harmonies and minimalist change. He played solos that were integral to the music rather than flying over it but they still built energy and excitement. The tunes had titles like Open snow expanse in Middle-Eastern Europe or Sick new one. Fantasdick raised a chuckle when introduced and featured some hip-hop beats which I thought was apt. I saw the charts later, and they were also sparse. Bars of whole and half notes with moving chords and occasional dots, some eighth notes, and one long passage of sixteenth notes played unison. Brian suggested subtlety and finesse as descriptors. Keith mentioned Charlie Haden and the reference seemed right to me with his concern with song and melody and this floating unhurried feel. This was music that moves far from the jazz mainstream and will talk to many audiences. I enjoyed it immensely and I wasn’t alone.

Dave Rodriguez (guitar) led a quartet with Casey Golden (piano), Bill Williams (bass) and Ed Rodrigues (drums) at the Canberra Grammar School Gallery. I lost my photos so the promotional banner will have to do.

22 June 2012

A performer’s thinking

We get comments from the classical stage these days, but Robert Chamberlains’s concert was more than that. This was short but specific exposure to his thinking on a work in progress. The work in progress was Bach’s Well Tempered Klavier Book 1 which he will perform in recital later this year. He didn’t play all the works – that’s about 90 minutes of performance – but he did play several and he did outline his impressions, even how he had changed his approach after discussions with other performers. One work, I think it was the toccata in Ab major, changed from solid and dignified to softer and conversational. He played a snippet of the first then the work as the second. Fascinating. I assume this is an ongoing process, and the decisions for his recital could change further in future performances. The dots are all written, but of course there are many opportunities for personality and approach. (My mate Asanka told me later that Bach has no dynamics or pedal markings, so it’s open house). I was surprised by a truncated, not quite staccato, approach to many melodies and a bit less so by a malleable tempo, but I shouldn’t be. These are all parts of the individuality of that performer working with those dots. I also loved feeling the movement of focus on the melody as it moved from right to left to right hand. And I surprised by the firm and very voluminous playing. Who says classical isn’t loud: a grand piano can certainly be loud in a limited space. So what did he play? Preludes and fugues in Cmaj/Cmin, C#maj, G#maj/Abmin and Bbmin/Bbmaj. There were some very well known themes here and presented with very different feelings: sadness in a few; dignity, conversation, delicacy, good nature. And technical variation, too: close voices in many parts; toccata sounding string-like parts; layers and registers and intervals; a modulation to E#min(!). But always both attractive and satisfying. Perhaps the piano was heavy, but that’s the nature of these newer, more powerful instruments, but what intellectual clarity. Robert ended with three preludes from Gershwin that he likened to Bach through its rhythmic drive. The first seemed bitsy to my ear, the second bluesy in AABA structure, the third excitable and bouncy with a call-and-response melody. This was a wonderful exposure to a musician’s thought and preparation and attractive and intelligent music to boot.

Robert Chamberlain performed a lunchtime concert of selections from Bach’s Well Tempered Klavier Bk 1 and three Gershwin preludes at St Alban’s.

17 June 2012

Trio A Gog & Magog makes six

Al Kerr came to town with his Trio Agogo and friends, so his trio had six performers. Apparently ABC radio has commented on this too, but let’s not be too prescriptive. Trio Agogo plays Brazilian music and it comprises Australian musicians with Brazilian experience and knowledge and with a history of visits to the soul of the music. We all love bossa nova, of course. This was broader although I could hear the bossa sensuality in the sax melody of one tune out of Rio de Janiero. That tune actually sounded to me like Euro/Latin melancholy: smooth, sexy, romantic, somewhat desperate. But there was also lots of dance party music out of NE Brazil that was described by Al as jazz fusion. It was close. I heard cycles and descending chromatic chords and modally descending chords, so the structures weren’t all so difficult, and the soprano solo on one all the world like fusion. The grooves were rich and the arrangements were busy. But the rhythms were essential: deeper, more African, than fusion’s rhythms. One of Al’s solos had me realising their malleability. On drum kit, his limbs were playing different and unconnected rhythms that floated over the groove and came together at the end of a phrase. Who knows how difficult that must be. It’s wildly free in a rhythmic sense and I can imagine dancing to it would be strangely liberating. This was richly danceable music in a loose-limbed African way. I also loved the sound of two nylon-strung guitars which, with drums/percussion, formed the Trio, as they played unison lines or harmonies or solos against chords. The melodies were joyous things, bouncy, busy and consonant. This is sensuality with intelligence but without intellectualisation. Ben told me afterwards that they’d been playing the top 100 of Brazilian music. Their promo had talked of samba, choro, bossa nova, forro and Brazilian jazz. Suffice to say I knew of a few of these, but there’s variation in these forms that eludes my knowledge but not my pleasure. This was wonderfully infectious music and strongly foot-tapping. Much enjoyed. And congrats to our locals, Phill and Anton, who did all this with just one practice under their belts.

Trio Agogo are Alastair Kerr (drum kit, pandeiro, percussion), Paul Carey (guitar), Adam May (7-string guitar, cavaquinho) and their friends were Ben Carr (saxes), Anton Wurzer (accordion) and Phill Jenkins (bass).

16 June 2012

Seven years the apprentice

A launch is the party end of a visual arts event and I seldom get to them. But I did get to this launch, at PhotoAccess, for my mate Brian Jones and a colleague Jane Burton Taylor. I won’t comment on the wine and cheese although it was enjoyed and it’s integral to any launch.

Brian is an active photographer around town and (I think) past-president of the Canberra Photographic Society. His exhibition was a study of Bower birds. I’d heard of Brian and Jill’s backyard bower birds over several dinners and here they were – in two series and a movie. One series was called Apprenticeship and comprised 13 photos of a male bowerbird as it learns, over 6 years, to build a bower. The other series of 8 showed the change of a male from dusky child to the richly feathered black beauty of maturity. All for the approval of the female and the quick mating ritual. Ain’t nature wonderful. Brian has also delved into film, using the same multipurpose digital camera, and I actually preferred this. (I’ve recently felt a similar preference for short film clips that I’ve taken at jazz gigs over pics, and it’s a surprise to me). Both photos and movie were technically satisfying, impressively sharp and informing in a documentary sense. I certainly learnt lots about our famed Australian bower birds.

Jane presented 21 pics in a series called Earth. These were photos of countryside, taken with foreground movement and distant, still focus, and all from a visit to Sicily. There were two that took my fancy. One had what seemed a surreal background of rolling hills with colour drained out through atmospherics that appeared every bit like a strange sky that reached to the edges of the image. The other was just a superbly structured image of trees, with one impressive example nicely centred to lower-left and foreground in classic rules-of-thirds balance.

And, yeah, the wine and cheese were nice and the dog was cheery. Brian Jones and Jane Burton Taylor launched a photographic exhibition at PhotoAccess.

15 June 2012

Back from the Coast

Jazz Quest text by Nevin Temby; Merimbula pic courtesy of MJF

I missed the Merimbula Jazz Festival and the Exceptions playing at the Loft, but I caught McEvilly / Tarento / Kim / Moore at Hippo and it was decent consolation.

Firstly, the Merimbula reference, from my mate Nevin:

Merimbula Jazz Festival marked the first Open Jazz Quest, where non local under 25s could compete for $500 first prize, $300 second and $200 third prize. The Lakeview Hotel hosted the event and generously provided the prizes. The competition aims to promote excellence in jazz performance by offering not only a highly competitive performance platform but also cash and contra prizes to help young musicians further their musical careers. Fourteen entrants from around Australia performed to a very receptive capacity audience during the festival, with the modern jazz ensemble ‘The Exceptions’ catching the adjudicators interest on the night. First prize went to Tate Sheridan (paino), second to Joe McEvilly (alto) and third to Scott Temby (trumpet). / During the photo shoot the following day, the organiser explained to the guys that the current board is very interested in promoting the modern genre for the festival. Great news for festival goers.

Congrat-ulations to the band. As for the Hippo gig, I very much enjoyed their detailed, busy and skilled take on the standards. Joe surprised me with some rich substitutions and chromatic sequences, but he also performed with a lovely melodic sense. Sometimes playing slow and setting themes, one time stunning me with the most subtle intervention against Daniel’s excitable guitar. Daniel’s playing truly sets a scene. He’s physically frisky and it shows in his playing: busy, jumpy, contorted, inventive, over-provided with ideas. It’s intriguing and anything but relaxing, so I was a bit taken aback (although very pleasantly) by his complex but gentle guitar chordal intro/outro to Darn that dream. Jordan was on electric and I loved his hard tone and expert chops. He’s got easy knowledge to the highest frets and great fingerwork and an easy ability to drop into and out of solos and off times and fours with Rohan. I’d only seen Rohan play in a more restrained context. Here he was still serious and steady, but often enough busy and fun, like his few bars of melody played with tuned elbow on snare skin. It’s a great party trick that I’d seen from Ari Hoenig and he did it with confidence and panache. But this outfit also had an impressive presence as a band. I noticed in the way they moved grooves together, passed solos, understood conventions. These guys are presumably playing together every day and it shows. I particularly noticed when a blues degenerated into an undefined one-note holding pattern then fell back into a walking swing at the end of the 12 bars, but I’d seen the same mutations elsewhere. It was obviously improvised and very neat work.

Joe McEvilly (alto), Jordan Tarento (bass), Daniel Kim (guitar) and Rohan Moore (drums) played standards at the Hippo Bar.

9 June 2012

UC Bach

This was a combination I jumped at: UC Chorale and JS Bach. Everyone loves Bach; enough said. But the UC (University of Canberra) College of Music has intrigued me since I was singing in a few local choirs a few years back and heard something of them. The website suggests training and performance with a strong community orientation that caters for all levels. Some performing groups are auditioned, others not, but they perform significant works. This performance was of two Bach Cantatas (BWV105, BWV39) and the G Major mass (BWV236) by the UC Chorale. It’s an unauditioned choir, has a strong training component and it performs at least two major performances each year.

The works required a chamber orchestra with choir and solo singers. The soloists had considerable training: these singers were not just off the street. The instrumentalists were paid, so professional. I recognised a few faces from the ANU School of Music and this was no surprise. The choir was 38 voices: surprisingly strong on sopranos and weak on tenors and basses. Unfortunate but not uncommon. The chamber orchestra was interesting, with a few strings (2 x violin, cello, bass) and continuo keys, but I found the other members interesting: bassoon, 2 x oboe, occasional trumpet, 2 x recorders. It made for an interesting sound that was obviously pre-modern and may be standard for the period. Certainly the square baroque lines of crotchets and quavers were true to style - lively and dancing, but with its own dignified, stilted formality – sometimes moving with the voices, sometimes working lines at counterpoint, but always attractive and reasoned. I say nothing by admiring the master. Bassist Justin seemed a key to all this – strongly present and steady and seemingly the loudest in this space. Maybe it was the space, but I found the choral vocal parts not too well defined, but what bliss when they opened up! Choirs are like that. The arias and recicatives made up the middle parts of each work, with choral passages at start and finish, and they were lovely and personal rather than outspoken and exciting. I particularly enjoyed one duet of sopranos that had voices playing against each other. But I felt for the singers (was it soprano Misako and bass Rohan?) who had those caddish baroque semiquaver lines to sing. It just looked and sounded so difficult. And tenor Dominic had some notes that reached like spires to the Heavens in his aria during the Mass. But I enjoyed it immensely. It’s not professional, but it’s a wonderfully capable choir. It’s a pleasure to me that a community group (admittedly with some perfectly well-trained soloists and professional instrumentalists) can do justice to these major works. I’ll be looking out for more.

The UC Chorale performed two Bach cantatas, BWV105 and BWV39 and the Mass in G major BWV236. It was led by Andrew Koll (conductor) with concert master Timothy Wickham (violin) and soloists Felicity Moran (soprano), Misako Piper (soprano), Sarahlouise Owens (soprano), Dominic Popperwell (tenor) and Mark Popperwell (tenor) and Rohan Thatcher (bass).

7 June 2012

Pitching the alto

I asked Matt Handel if he’d transcribed the performances he played at his history of alto sax retrospective, but he said he hadn’t. It fitted with Luke’s comment that Matt has a memory. I was educated and enlightened by Matt’s interpretations of favourite works by favourite alto players. This was not new music or original. It was an exploration of different styles and different players, and Matt’s renditions were profoundly diverse and indicated his immersion in these key players. Who were they? The first was a delightful, purely lyrical rendition of Johnny Hodges playing In a mellow tone. It was so beautiful, like language, unforced but with occasional devastating runs that fell for the horn. I noticed this with several other players – a willingness to enjoy melody, playing slowly, delight in intervals, but also the skills to pull of lengthy and emotive flourishes. But that’s what solo development is about. Phil Woods’ Strollin’ with Pam was more recent, still in the mainstream but street-wise and abandoned. Charlie Parker took us back the birth of the modern with ‘40s bop. Matt’s Eric Dolphy was from Berlin in 1961 and was tortured and blues-influenced and generously dissonance with every note plumbing depths of spirit. I think this was my most striking amongst a varied bunch. Next was Cannonball Adderley with Spectacular from 1957, a superb shower of frolicking consonance. After the break was Art Pepper’s Ophelia from 1957, rooted but with an easy readiness to depart from the ordinary. Then Kenny Garrett’s [Woody] Shaw, all Arabic scales in constant lines. The second set also had some local flavour. Matt studied with Tony Gorman for several years so his Spice Island was authentic: all mesmeric and dreamy with a melody that discombobulated my ears when I expected a tone and got a semitone. Matt’s Tony-solo was stunning too: quietly interpretative but then rabidly released. Next was a heavy, slow, rock tribute to Arthur Blythe, with Matt playing Joey Barrons’ interpretation of AB’s Little boy. Then Australia again with Bernie McGann’s Acacia from the Last Straw in 1995 and a final Cherokee. I was surprised by just how truly stylistically different each tune was in Matt’s playing. This is not easy and it was a truly impressive display.

The rest of the band were no slouches, either. I felt Andy was most comfortable on the impressionistic styles where his contemporary classical interests are evident. His descending chromatic chords were an eye opener on the Dolphy piece, and his solos were particularly vivid in these styles. Rohan’s bass solos were phrased like a sax with nice bebop triplets, and that’s high praise for our bulky instrument. And I can never be uncomfortable with Mark’s drums that just spell out the highpoints of 50’s post-bop era. James O’Donnell, a student of Mark’s, sat in for the final Cherokee and was all concentration with a driving ride.

At the end, I felt this was as good as it gets. Great music of a great jazz era, played with skills and an awareness that’s both catholic and informed. What a pleasurable gig and an education too. Matt Handel (alto) led a quartet with Andy Butler (piano), Rohan Dasica (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums). James O’Donnell (drums) replaced Mark for the final tune.

  • Cyberhalides Jazz Photos by Brian Stewart
  • 3 June 2012

    Impertinent

    Impertinent … it’s a word that come up often in JB Priestley’s drama, An inspector calls. Megan and I saw this play last night, performed by the Tempo Theatre. It’s local theatre. Local theatre is good, like most local things. This is community, and community is important. It’s not Bell Shakespeare professional quality, but it’s valuable, personal, connected. The great artists are great to see, but I remain committed to the value of local. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I riled at suggestions that the licensing company would prevent me taking a few pics of the performance. I felt sorry for the representative of the local theatre company who felt he had to enforce a right. But that’s how it works, as the corporates gain increasing power and people succumb to threats and fear of the law. Let’s investigate this.

    Betty Longbottom, Statue of John Boynton [JB] Priestley [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

    JB Priestley writes a play about the self-serving and self-satisfying, even self-delusionary, industrially-wealthy class. It’s a class-ridden piece from an obviously left-leaning intellectual of the era when all intellectuals were communists or fellow-travellers (it was first performed in Moscow in 1945). The play is set in 1912; written in 1944; Priestley died in 1984; copyright continues to 50 years (now extended to 70 years thanks to Howard’s subservient US-Aus FTA) after his death. Copyright presumably now resides in some multinational that owns the text. I just checked the site of the Australian Copyright Council. This is a theatrical work. I expect there are also rights in stage design, costume design and the like, but these rights would be local and not controlled by the licensor of the text. The ACC publication, An introduction to copyright in Australia (Australian Copyright Council, Information sheet G010v17 January 2012) seems to answer my queries. This is classified a “dramatic work”, so the owners of the work have an exclusive right to: “reproduce the work (including by photocopying, copying by hand, filming, recording and scanning); make the work public for the first time; and communicate the work to the public (for example, via fax, email, broadcasting, cable or the internet). / Owners of copyright in … dramatic … works have two additional exclusive rights: to perform the work in public (this includes performing a work live, or playing a recording or showing a film containing the work, in a non-domestic situation); and to make an adaptation (for example, a translation or dramatised version of a literary work, a translation or “non-dramatic” version of a dramatic work, …)”. Now I am not an IP lawyer, but this suggests to me that I could not reproduce significant portions of the text, reproduce the work by displaying a video or publishing a video online or playing an audio recording, etc. A photo does not seem to me to infringe on any dramatic rights here. A photo does not communicate text, and essentially this work is textual. Perhaps it could infringe on rights of a set designer or costume designer, but it’s a long bow to claim that it infringes the written theatrical work. So I am both sorry for an amateur company that understands they must protect a claimed right and angry about (presumably) corporate claims that rail against the very meaning of the work they seek to claim rights against. JB Priestley would be turning in his grave at all this. If it’s the law, it’s a travesty, but I doubt it is the law. For the sake of Tempo Theatre and their peace of mind I will not include a pic, but damn anyone who claims a right to prevent a photo in this context.

    Now, this sounds like a rant against Copyright. It isn’t. I feel perfectly comfortable with artists earning a decent living from their creations. But I don’t warm to corporations owning creations they had no role in creating, and especially then expanding the extent of their rights through influence on poltical processes. But enough.

    So how was the play? It’s a dining room drama. A prosperous industrial family is celebrating the engagement of their daughter. A police inspector arrives with questions around the suicide of a poor woman. All the family have had some interactions with the dead woman and had some part to play in her suicidal state. The second half sees the family deconstruct the inspector’s findings to excuse themselves. A final twist destroys this reconstruction but leaves the plot unresolved given questions of timing. It’s essentially a dig at the self-satisfied, self-serving, pompous and sometimes corrupt wealthy strata in class-ridden Victorian-cum-Edwardian England. Interestingly, the family members who question the status quo are the daughter and son, so it’s also a tale of generational change and even historical-materialist progress. And it’s often funny too. It’s a typically wordy piece of drawing room theatre; dated, but witty and with purpose. It wasn’t professional theatre but we enjoyed the performance and I admired their commitment and considerable work. Great work by the cast and a worthy work to perform. Congratulations to Tempo Theatre and the cast: Kim Wilson (Arthur Birling), Paul Jackson (Gerald Croft), Clare Rankine (Sheila Birling), Margi Sainsbury (Sybil Birling), Sean Flynn (Eric Birling), Amber Spooner (Edna), Mark Bunnett (Inspector Goole).

    Get it while you can

    Friday evening at the National Press Club this week was Matt with Rohan and Simeon. As we’d expect from Matt, this was sparse and razor sharp renditions of standards: Night in Tunisia, Invitation, Hey babe ain’t I good to you and more. Some very nice solos from Rohan, too. I even noticed several people listening closely: an achievement at an after-work Friday-evening bar scene. Matt Thompson (piano) led a trio with Rohan Dasika (bass) and Simeon Staker (drums).

    2 June 2012

    Our own great escape starts

    This advertisement appears in the middle pages of today’s Canberra Times and it says it all. Farewell and best of luck to our best music students. You deserve better than we can provide. If there’s any funny side of this, it all fits so neatly with the Great Escape story on Four Corners and Abbott’s failed run in Parliament. They may have been heroes in WW2, but we are just looking foolish and sad. For the librarians and future researchers amongst us, the citation is: Study classical at the Australian Institute of Music [advertisement]. In Panorama, p.26, arts supplement in Canberra Times, 2 June 2012.