30 July 2012

This time Texas

It was almost like a jazz variety show when Niels Rosendahl presented his Farewell Concert. There was an audience of family and friends and not just the local jazz students and tragics. There was a good representation of audio and recording engineers and photographers were well represented. Niels, as host, chatted with the audience and invited a string of musician colleagues to stage to perform a varied mix of styles and tonalities. Then to top it off, there was a party in the foyer afterwards. But this was not lightweight performance. These are top players around town and our best are very good. First up was Niels’ organ trio with Luke Sweeting and Gary France with that particular ‘50s tonality that can be a bit woofy but which swings hard and funky when it’s in good hands. They were variously joined by three trumpets (locals Dan McLean and Ben Marston and Melbourne visitor Matt Tubman) and Raf Jerjen sat in after a few tunes. Ben played a gloriously melodic solo on Stella by starlight (trumpeters do) that highlighted to me the difference from prolific tenor madness. But then Dan and Matt indulged in trumpet mania with Dizzy’s classic brass hit, Night in Tunisia. Niels played Moon River for a friend in NYC and Luke performed a piano solo, while reading a chart from his mobile, that had Brenton and I astonished by its brilliantly perverse logic. (Luke later told us he just ignored the chart for a bit – so much for our ears). Both Raf and Gary had their solos too. Raf was newly back from NYC with a new commitment to rhythm above all and Gary is long out of the US but always with involvement and huge joy in his playing. I hadn’t realised that Gary studied at the very school that Niels is attending for his Masters program – University of North Texas School of Music: 1,500 students; 25 bands; a small town of jazzers. Back to the concert. Luke swapped to grand piano, groups grew and shrank, styles changed through various bop-influences and movie musicals then even on to the blues when Fiona Boyes came on stage. Niels has been expanding his palette into the blues and its conventions by touring with our internationally-recognised Fiona. Fiona led a Mississippi blues duo with Niels from acoustic guitar, vocals and kick box and an electric guitar blues. Then a return to jazz conventions and the influences and Coltrane and John Mackey and then a touch of evocative vocals and playful vocalese from Rachael Thoms. Then the party.

There was some stunning playing here and I imagine Niels can only continue his development with this sojourn. It was a friendly night and chatty to finish off, but as I walked home I wondered if Niels will ever wish to return to the future desert that will be Canberra music.

Niels Rosendahl (tenor) led a several bands and several visitors at his farewell concert: Luke Sweeting (organ, piano), Gary France (drums), Rafael Jerjen (bass), Dan McLean (trumpet), Ben Marston (trumpet), Matt Tubman (trumpet), Fiona Boyes (guitar, vocals), Rachael Thoms (vocals).

  • Cyberhalides Jazz Photos by Brian Stewart
  • 29 July 2012

    Strobe no warning

    Live dangerously. Strobe light. No warning. So we joked in the car as we drove home. Megan and I had just seen two short plays, God and Pool (no water) performed by the Everyman Theatre Company. This is local theatre, performed in a small space, the Courtyard Theatre, for a small audience, and thank God/s that this theatre exists. It’s a place for experimentation, challenge, humour, even if it does have its rough edges. The two plays were quite different, but the commitment and thought was evident.

    God is an early Woody Allen play. It starts with playwrite Hepatitis and slave/actor Diabetes planning how to win a drama competition. Then through interactions with audience from Gunghalin and a quest to the King and the arrival of Zeus as the veritable deus ex machina to the accidental murder of the doll-God. It’s obviously corny and jokey but also sited in its relationship to Ancient Greece and it even deals with some meaty issues of courage and protection and perhaps adulthood in metaphor. The cast did a great job with lots of energy, slapstick presence, audience proximity and mock involvement and some minor props. I wondered how the script had changed for the original (was a phone call to Woody Allen in the original? Northborne Avenue and Gunghalin certainly weren’t). Nice to see a fellow workmate on stage, too, but it’s not the first time. God was written by Woody Allen, directed by Duncan Driver and performed by Jarrad West (Diabetes), Duncan Ley (Hepatitis), Wayne Shephard (Trichinosis), Euan Bowen (King and a Fate), Amy Tinycray Dunham (another fate), Zach Drury (guard). Three others (who came from the audience) are not mentioned in the brochure, Steph Roberts (Diabetes’ girlfriend) and an unnamed other.

    Pool (no water) is a weightier production dealing with jealously, success, schadenfreude and such. Four unsuccessful artists visit a fifth who had been part of the team years back, but in now rich and successful amd owns a pool. They party and, later in the night, go to recreate their skinny-dipping exploits, but, in the dark, the successful woman dives into an emptied pool and is seriously injured. The four photographically record her time in hospital and recovery over several months while enjoying the wealthy lifestyle, then destroy the photos after the successful one turns them into a sellable exhibition. The successful one derides the failures and they end happy in suburban life, presumably accepting their artistic failure. The characters and carry on are not likeable or attractive. You can understand the frustration and subsequent pleasure in misfortune but, of course, you don’t admire it. There’s an awareness of failure by these four. It’s not conscious, but spelt out in drugs and sex as they delude themselves. Drugs and sex thus strobes and Hendrix, and skinny-dipping thus (discrete) nudity. This was performed with lots of energy, with four actors playing fives parts, with considerable drama and evident innocence. I was satisfied with the plot finale of settling to family and suburbia although I was uncomfortable that it came so suddenly after the successful one’s climax speech. But the presentation was involving and the theme was challenging. Pool (no water) was written by Mark Ravenhill, directed by Duncan Levy and the cast was was Jarrad West, Steph Roberts, Amy Dunham and Zach Raffan.

    Everyman Theatre Company performs the repertoire (Richard III was mentioned) as well as these lesser known works. This was quirky and intelligent and relevant theatre and that’s how I like it.

    28 July 2012

    Art in every line

    Pic by Gary Taylor

    David Braid quoted* this line from Joseph Conrad: “[a] work that aspires, however humbly, to the status of art should carry its justification in every line”. I’d read this before I heard David play at the Grammar Gallery and it came back to me in spades as I was listening to his playing on the night. This music was infused with consistent thought throughout. These were no head-solo-head arrangements, and occasional left hard chords, right hand melody, weren’t too obvious. These tunes were built and performed like classical pieces, where phrases lead to following phrases and they all build to a complex structure. So it’s not surprising that I heard this more as classical in style.

    David talks in another article of Mozart as a creative awakener for his development, but I heard Chopin and Ravel and twentieth century in his playing, as well as Keith Jarrett and, perhaps more unexpectedly, Chick Corea. It’s amusing that his encore was introduced with a tongue-in-cheek apology to any who came to hear a mainstream jazz pianist. “What is jazz” is the topic of another essay of David’s, so I won’t get into that, but he ended with a masterful take on Yesterdays ably performed in a string of jazz styles (partly in homage to Oscar Peterson, who was a neighbour of his in Toronto) and then a supremely sparse, emoted take on a ballad by Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass (was it Wait till you see him?). But the rest of the concert was original compositions in David’s solo piano style. One longer tune, Resolute Bay, was inspired by Glenn Gould and the film The Idea of North and time spent alone in the arctic winter and was long and structured. Another was a take on a Chinese folk tune where the piano was prepared with bamboo chopsticks lodged between strings to mimic the tones of Chinese instruments. To my (Western) ears, this was wonderfully successful. Apparently David has a following in China, performing in fabulous new concert halls in unknown cities of tens of millions. He performed another piece on prepared piano with left hand playing all the world like thuddy and buzzing percussion. I was not the only one dumbfounded by the effectiveness and virtuosity. I couldn’t believe there was no loop machine or other electronics, but there was none. He showed me after how it was done (a pretty standard arpeggiated ostinato in the left hand sounding against well lodged chopsticks). I’ve wondered in the past about piano preparation, but this was genuinely valid stuff. I’m a convert. Another piece blended R&B and Chopin and was written when David mused on Chopin nocturnes after seeing the film Ray about Ray Charles. Suffice to say, these are catholic tastes and diverse skills, so what matter “what is jazz”? David’s music was entrancing and informed and intimate and refreshingly different. David Braid performed at the Canberra Grammar School Gallery and joins a string of Canadian performers who have recently visited Canberra.

    *How a Polish sailor turned British novelist helped me find a voice as a jazz improviser, by David Braid, in Canadian musician magazine, Autumn 2010, http://www.davidbraid.com/conrad.php, viewed 24 July 2012

    26 July 2012

    The second of two colours

    Just a short report on Casey Golden and his trio who I caught for one set just after Amarcord. I reported just a few weeks back on Dave Rodriquez performing with this trio: Casey and Bill Williams and Ed Rodrigues. This night, I heard Bill and Ed as eminently similar in style to when they were performing with Dave: powerful in restraint, emotional, communicative, virtuosic. But to my ears, Casey sounded different here. He performed a few standards – Nardis and Fee Fi Fo Fum and another – and two originals in the set I heard. This was a trio that moved the feel and interpretation constantly, always listening, wick lit but unexploded. Not loud but intense. I heard Casey as more modern here, rather than contemporary and soundscapey as he was with Dave. This was right hand lines and left hand chords, moving dissonances and some sharp, unexpected rhythmic jolts in melody. Bill was all ears, heavily syncopating, openly resting and occasionally swinging. Ed was forever in rhythmic counterpoint with ever changing tones and patterns and snares released and recovered and the thinnest of cymbals and rivets in his bass drum. I’ve watched these guys and they continue to startle. It’s no surprise that they perform at Sydney’s 505. They deserve it. This is wonderfully fluent expression and restlessly motile. Casey Golden (piano) led a trio with Bill Williams (bass) and Ed Rodrigues (drums) at the Loft.

  • Cyberhalides Jazz Photos by Brian Stewart
  • 25 July 2012

    Alembic

    They started with mediaeval singing and it was exquisite. Amarcord are a male vocal a cappella quintet from Leipzig. They formed from the St Thomas’ church boys choir and it shows.

    The opening songs were short but sounded just what I’d expect. Deeply beautiful: exquisite and distilled (as in alembic) are words that came to mind when they started. The harmonies were perfect and so pure and I noticed the individual voices formed notes that swelled and decayed and merged so well with others so drew no attention to themselves. This was a fluid whole that mutated with glorious tones. Eminently suited to a cathedral acoustic. But these guys are showmen, too. They shared introductions to their songs and they were consistently on love and sex and even animals and love and sex. (Mmm, the boys are out of the cathedral now). They stood with arms at their sides, crooning and bellowing and clucking and humming with strongly-formed tones and mobile faces and a semi-circle formality, but there was cleverness in the somewhat corny presentation and commentary. I noticed this especially when they moved on, after the first set, to the 20th century and more complex harmonies and longer tunes, then further to a set of folk songs to finish the night. There was predictable Teutonic protocol but also a neatly structured show and a performance that was detailed, precise and pure. The jokey references I’d heard to a Boy Band of the a cappella set fitted perfectly well. There was humour and presentation and seductiveness along with the wonderful craft and musical precision. This is the new classical of sexy CD covers and pop-awareness. The finale on a mix of Skippy the bush kangaroo and barbeque was a nice alternative to more plebeian choices, and framed the show with humour. But back to the tones. I hadn’t unexpected such beauty from a male singing group. I put it down to the floating high tones, for the feel was anything but deep, despite the lineup of two basses, one baritone and two tenors. The tenors were high, even counter-tenor high. One bass billowed below but the general impression was of sweet and light. For me, this was unexpected and a pure delight. And getting back to the music. The group may have formed out of a church, but this was carnal. Here are some English translations of titles: Hassler Dancing and leaping; Gesulado When we part; Hassler I’m all a fluster; Anonymous When I drink claret. Then after the break, some more modern music: Schubert, Shumann, Marschner and Elgar on love and nature and Greek anthologies and Dvorak with love songs and Grieg with childrens’ songs. I particularly enjoyed the longer work by Cras (1925) called To the mountains with its modern harmonies. Then various folksongs from Cuba and Ghana and others and eventually Skippy… Great show. I was delighted and I was not alone.

    Amarcord are named after Fellini’s wonderous recollection of childhood and comprises Wolfram Lattke (tenor), Martin Lattke (tenor), Frank Ozimek (baritone), Daniel Knauft (bass) and Holger Krause (bass). They were presented at the Llewellyn Hall by Musica Viva and were only delayed a few minutes by the alarm and evacuation and firemen.

    22 July 2012

    Silent, steadfast, forebearing

    When David Reedy introduced Mozart’s Magic Flute, performed by the Canberra Opera Workshop, he noted that there should be no photos or videos for rights issues. It’s a bugbear of mine, but the intrusion of corporate pwer is increasingly common and often unwarranted these days. I took no pics, for the sake of the company, but where is the copyright in this performance? Mozart died ages back so there can’t be copyright on his music (unless someone has rearranged and claims control). There may be extant copyright on the English lyrics, but neither rearrangement or lyrics are recorded by photography. There’s copyright on the stage design and costumes, but that’s presumably local and I've found local performers welcome local recognition. These are community events and there’s no benefit in copyright for them. Now, I’ve had my rave, and for the company, I took no pics, but who suffers? We all do, including the performers.

    So I started with a bitter taste in my mouth. The work is big and long and it was well done and opera is a strange thing. This was in English, so it was easier to follow than my previous experience with supertitles for Die Zauberflöte and I enjoyed that. I enjoyed the daggy Papageno, Christopher McNee, with his stooping gait and I particularly liked the singing of tenor Tamino, David Smith. Also the choral segments which there were few but they were big and rich. I (quietly) sang along to the Papageno/a duo and wished that the Queen of the night, soprano Stephanie McAllister, could have sung with her own voice from centre stage. She had a great, imposing presence with a wonderful costume (that I can’t show you here!) but she’d lost her singing voice and was replaced by an off-stage live soprano (I don’t have her name but who did an admirable job), but the lip-synching and dislocation of the voice was unfortunate. The same had happened with one of the two armed guards (again, wonderfully presented, but I can’t show you here). I’ve been untouched, but I’m told it’s a winter of the flu. You couldn’t help but enjoy the overt performance of Leon Kavcic as Monostatos. And the bunches of women – firstly the three ladies then the three spirits – that were mystical and essential. I know nothing of opera, so this is presuamably trite, but Papageno and perhaps the Prince often sounded to me like Gilbert and Sullivan. But then this doesn’t seem unlikely. So, I can only admire a local company that will take on major works like this. It’s not the Australian Opera, but it’s decent and local and community. A worthy achievement and congratulations.

    20 July 2012

    Timely folk

    The late 19th/early 20th Century was a time of great change and a time when many composers were inspired by folk music. I caught the Capital Voices choir singing some of these works at the monthly St Albans concert yesterday. Oliver Raymond led the choir and introduced the works: by Kodaly, Hindemith, Milhaud, Vaughan Williams, arranger Hugh Roberton and Samuel Barber, and, to finish, a quirky English weather report sung as Anglican chant. Asanka was there and told me after of a Hungarian-Australian workmate who laughed off Bartok's music being rooted in Hungarian folk songs as too cerebral and changed beyond recognition. It’s quite true that folk is simple and local and fine music is sophisticated and cosmopolitan. But I still enjoyed the compositions. I caught melody sounding as far back as Mediaeval and even shanties; I struggled to follow English poetry of Shakespeare and Rilke; I even struggled to recognise the language in some French chansons. This was often very difficult choral music (Asanka used the word “fiendish”), with complex rhythms and closely moving harmonic textures and chromaticism and dissonance. The choir was challenged and the tunes weren’t always clear, especially earlier ones, but I could understand. Later songs seemed more straightforward and the choir was sharper and warmed up by then. These songs were also in English, which I expect made things easier. The Vaughan Williams Elizabethan love songs were sweet and To be sung on the water by Samuel Barber was quite beautiful. It’s not a large choir and the space was small, so I could hear individual voices. This time, I particularly enjoyed the male voices that seemed to sit so rich and resonant in the mix. It’s irrelevant, but it amuses me that choirs often suggest to me that sexual politics are futile, given that all the voices are so different and yet so necessary. Then to finish, the weather report. It was a strange thing, as weather reports from other countries are, even when they’re not sung (how often do we get mention of the Azores). A nicely fantastical finish to a demanding and interesting choral performance.

    Oliver Raymond led the Capital Voices choir at St Albans singing European, British and American compositions of the late 19th/early 20th century.

    18 July 2012

    Ahoy! Bands

    Both Davidia and String Effect were supported by a nice little trio on keys, bass and drums: Gordon (aka Gordo) Porth and the Pacific Showband. They impressed me mightily with their support. This was concentrated reading, staged stops and starts, harmony lines against voice, surprisingly effective keyboard parts and I only noticed one toyish synth tone. The band performed other nights as a ballroom dance band. I also caught Gordon playing a few other gigs. One was a staged musical murder mystery trivia quiz where he played snippets of songs for the audience to guess at. The other was a popular but only moderately well-attended classical piano concert entitled From Bach to Billy Joel. Gordon is a perfectly competent classical pianist and played a range of short tunes from JS Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Chopin, Grieg, Debussy, Gershwin, Morricone and a rag to finish off from Billy Joel. It was a touch of class although interrupted by cocktail shaking and phones ringing and even chatter, but it was a nice change. I met bassist David and drummer Adam later in a bar and commended them on their reading. Nothing difficult: Adam said it was much easier than the Schoenberg and Mahler he normally plays (!). David’s bass was wonderfully precise and I liked that he knew all the right riffs and fills for the pop tunes they supported: no faking here. The Pacific Showband comprised Gordon Porth (keyboards) with David Fiore (bass) and Adam Mamula (drums).

    We all liked the piano man, Ged (pronounced with a soft G as in Jed) Scott. He was another musical Englishman (lots of English entertainers on this cruise). This was standard piano bar performance with a decent voice, a rack of tunes and a facility with the chord charts. The piano bar repertoire touches on jazz but doesn’t always match the fake books. I was surprised that he didn’t know of a favourite of the jazz repertoire, Alone together, but he played numerous other standards, latins, soft country, modern songs and the like, and managed plenty of other requests. I was relieved when he limited his take on American pie to the first verse repeated (as he said, almost no-one knows any more, anyway), and I was truly impressed by his obvious knowledge of the Italian language when he sang several Neapolitan songs. I liked his slightly detached English presence and his nicely stretched high notes. And his new wife, Nectar, sat in for a capable rendition of Whitney Houston one evening. We spent most nights with a cocktail and Ged before dinner.

    I counted at least three grand pianos and noted that at least Ged’s was a Yamaha. Garnette performed solo piano in the atrium each evening on another. She’s a performer with a huge repertoire (2,000+) that she could reel off with ease. I was also impressed when we had a chat with her while she was performing. That’s a professional muso for you. But I was still surprised to hear Wayne Shorter’s Footprints, but then I noticed one of the off-duty bassists had requested it and I saw the Real Books 6th edition vols 1&2 ready to do duty. She told me she also sings piano-(wo-)man sets and she did a set with drummer Adam late in the cruise where they both sang and harmonised.

    The other performers were more in rock tradition: a duo, a pop-rock quartet and a DJ but I only touched on this scene. The Fidelity Brothers were a duo playing the soft-rock covers like Margaritaville (appropriate given the propensity for cocktails on ships) and Heart of gold. Southern Comfort was a quartet of vocals, guitar, bass and drums playing a range of popular covers. They had a decent vocalist with a surprising range of vocal tones and a decent guitarist. They were both nice bands despite the requisite repertoire of popular often-classic rock. There was a DJ called DJ Moo but I didn’t catch him spinning disks in the Attic.

    17 July 2012

    Ahoy! Features

    One feature artist in the theatre was Davidia, a capable singer of an uncertain age (two divorces, two children) and a cougar act. She’d been introduced variously as “the queen of the high Cs” and a performer who sang it all, from the ‘50s to today. Megan and I dreaded that a singer may ignore song before the rock era but we were pleasantly surprised to hear of her operatic background and to hear a few snippets of the Magic flute and Nessun dorma along with Bohemian rhapsody and the pop repertoire. Davidia was quite an odd but amusing mix of full-ranged voice, loving mother (we saw pics of her two kids), voluptuous single with lively patter and sultry entertainer. I really liked her show.

    Another feature act was a crazy, straight man-funny man classical husband-and-wife pairing called String Fever. Like Davidia, these were trained performers from the fine music tradition but their act was anything but. The zany one was Brenton, the violinist husband; the straight one was Jackie, the cellist wife. Now, these were decent players. I enjoyed their competence, their sense of rhythm and melody and countermelody, her sense of cello as accompanist, their correct intonation and strident playing and their harmonised singing. Apparently they’d played together under the famed George Martin as conductor at the Opera House for a show called All you need is the Beatles. I later heard that they played in the Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra and I’d believe it. But this show was anything but staid. They did dedications to Andre de Roo/Rieu, snippets of 30 Beatles tunes, a piano/vocal take on Elton John (“that’s when I fell in love with him” Jackie said in humourous despair) and finished on features from Beethoven’s Song of Joy in English. All whacky and over the top, but clean fun and nicely done, with arranged backing from Gordo/n and his Showband. Maybe my mind was becoming soft from cruising by this time, but it’s good humoured, Aussie-entertaining and I enjoyed it. String Fever are Brenton Edgecombe (violin) and Jacqueline Edgecombe (cello).

  • Davidia
  • String Fever
  • 16 July 2012

    Ahoy! Shows

    It’s been a break for CJ and a cruise to celebrate a significant birthday for my Mum. This one was to the South Pacific, by P&O lines, on a ship called the Pacific Jewel, and was quite different from the last cruise I’ve reported here. Perhaps it’s the line or the South Pacific location or the Aussie (and Kiwi) passengers with their casual and unpretentious interests. This cruise had no string quartet and only a very minor classical piano presence, but there was some decent popular entertainment that I am happy to report on this cruise of shows.

    We saw four major musical theatre performances. One was called Girt by sea with an obvious Aussie cum Bondi theme and a Countdown segment with Skyhooks and Masters and various other 60s/70s or later Aussie stalwart songs. The second show had a Pirates theme with audience involvement and an oddly unrelated segue into Elvis with a Chitty-chitty-bang-bang reprise (!). The third was Away to the Circus with locals called up as performers and acrobats as acrobats and even a mother and baby elephant. The fourth was Do you wanna dance and covered a range of dancing styles. I was further back for this one and realized how much I’d enjoyed a front row seat for the others, even well to one side, which had been a far more intimate and involving experience. It may also be that this show was more devoid of story, more just a variety presentation of dance styles: Viennese waltz, wartime jive, Spanish paso double, that strange modern take on Irish jigs and electronica. The songs were fewer and the story less evident. Still, there were skills and style a-plenty so I enjoyed it despite the distance. They all had their musical twists and frequent pop-culture references. My descriptions may sound strange, but the shows all worked and were entertaining and I have great respect for the performers. The same cast of 2 singers and 6 dancers (2 also sang) performed four major shows over 10 days with recorded music in a well-lit and amplified theatre. It takes 2 months onshore before the shows are ready, so these performances are not lightweight even if their themes are. Given copyright mania, no pics were allowed so I’ll otherwise limit my reports. The key singers were Gemma Zirfas and David Randall and they were supported by the drearily named but very capable Pacific Entertainers, Adam, Dean, Gemma, Natalie, Tuesday and Mark.

    Circus is the rage these days and this cruise had its own acrobats. Five acrobats (four male, one female) performed as the Pacific Cirque in the atrium or outdoors when weather allowed. This was juggling, acrobatic flips and rolls, incredible feats of strength (and bodies to match) and various high acts – trapeze, silk, ropes. All impressive and muscular feats and trust from one performer to another and done without nets or other protection. It’s an old art form and impressive.

    4 July 2012

    Take with beer, wear dance shoes

    Nick Delaney mentioned fusion to me just before he got up on stage at the start of the Daimon Brunton Quintet’s gig at the Gods last night and picked up his 5-string electric bass, so I was somewhat surprised to hear a very cool tune, Bennie Golson’s I remember Clifford, starting the set. The next tune, Freddie Hubbard’s Red clay, was more punchy and had straight eighths and rock drums, but it still seemed pretty mainstream. Then on to a string of originals and Hancock’s Chameleon and the supreme ballad, You don’t know what love is.

    Daimon explained they are touring the release of their latest CD, and this CD and tour explore what Freddie Hubbard would have developed into if he’d continued in style from ’74 and lived to today. It’s an interesting conceit. So how were Daimon’s tunes that explored this? Smile was written for his daughter, with a melody that moves from 9 and 4 and with a modern swing against solos. Lament for the meancholy king was in two parts: a slow, clear guitar/organ segment moving into an up-tempo clavinet-groove reminiscent of Superstition. They know not what followed, and this seemed more true to CTI and mid-career Freddie Hubbard to my ears. Francine & Rita was a lively, mainstream tune dedicated to Daimon’s parents with just a hint of trad-sentiment. Then Herbie Hancock’s jazz-rock standard, Chameleon, as a long, powered, bass-enclosed and wahed outing, and the lovely You don’t know what love is. How lovely can a song be: floating, emotive, sparse. Roundabout was a broody crescendo leading into simple descending chords and agitated rock sensibility with occasional prog-rock hits. Then one for Daimon’s wife. I particularly liked this one: a dainty tune sounding like a music box in waltz time, uncomplicated and deeply pretty. Synchromesh was the most complex tune of the night: not long but more open and intellectually intriguing, with the band split into two different but concurrent time signatures and the bass written on the Fibonacci sequence ( “In the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers, starting with 0 and 1. This sequence begins 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987 ....”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibonacci, viewed 4 July 2012). The final tune, Wah sa, returned to the forceful, busy, energetic playing of most of the night.

    This was not a music of repose and contemplation. Nick’s bass was busy, voluble, urgent and he was wonderfully fluent so that, with Adam’s insistent drums and Daimon’s front-line urgings and leads, the band was anything but restful. This is music to move to: lively, youthful, energised. If anything, Adam’s carefully and individually noted guitar and Andrew’s various keys – organ, piano, clavinet, rhodes – were restraints on the busyness, but they, too, took their roles in the often-building excitement. This was also a show, in the sense that Daimon dressed and talked as the host, inviting, explaining, joking, conducting. It’s a showmanship that’s often relegated these days, but good for getting the gigs. I’m the bassist listener, so I will take away the bass above all else. Nick’s a hot player, five-string, solid, clear, toppy tone, thumbs, chords, taps, machine-gun picking: all impressive and good fun. But then that music box was a delight and the Fibonacci was a puzzle. As to whether Freddie would be doing “angular harmonic arrangements with drone melodies and drums’n’bass grooves” as Daimon described one tune, I don’t know, but this was a busy and excitable evening with just a touch of the cerebral and one or two spots of pleasing prettiness.

    Daimon Brunton (trumpet) led a quintet with Adam Orlando (guitar), Andrew Boyle (keys), Nick Delaney (bass) and Adam Donaldson (drums) at the Gods.

  • Cyberhalides Jazz Photos by Brian Stewart
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