All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

571

April-May 2003

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
In this column:

  • Fiona Burnett’s high octave octane
  • New albums: Australian Art Orchestra, John Bell Trio, D’volv

Please italicize album titles; use double quotes on song titles.
Let's only use graphics that are currently on the web. Just send me the links to the graphics, not the files themselves. It will be a huge time saver.

—>


EAST/WEST

Sita. Australian Art Orchestra (Newmarket) 9.5 stars: This orchestra is automatically notable for its illustrious musicians, but that alone does not account for its significance. The music they have produced across several intercultural projects is some of the most creative and exciting this country has on offer. This time esteemed pianist/composer Paul Grabowsky has collaborated with theatre dirctor Nigel Jamieson and lauded Balinese musician I Wayan Gde Yudane on the project which we saw last year at venues including the Sydney Opera House, called “The Theft of Sita”. Even without the delicious western/Asian cultural encounters and synthesis as depicted by mediums such as traditional shadow play and innovative stage and lighting techniques, much of the drama’s unique flavour and daring can be heard in this score. It cleverly uses a combination of Indonesian and western ensembles to range evoke traditional and contemporary forms, making something new out of the synthesis. Bursts of free jazz, for example, ride on Asian rhythms. Western instruments are tuned to Asian scales and the music uses the pelog and slendro scares in parts. One of the key features of this music is its rowdy energy, so evocative of Balinese music with its percussive pots’n pans clangour and bustling rhythms. The purity of Shelly Scown’s voice is the perfect vehicle for the stately, elevated “Sita’s Song”, while elsewhere the cultural poles shift toward and away from each other. Yudane uses traditional forms but he is interested in pushing them to their boundaries. Where he leaves off, Grabowsky can pick up. So, typically of the Art Orchestra, this is jazz and something else at the same time. Art is the best description. Those interested in contemporary creative music should seek out the Art Orchestra’s albums - each different in flavour entirely, yet the same in cultural miscegenation and ingenuity. They hold a special place in the Australian musical canon.


HIGH VIBE

Spirals. John Bell Trio (Newmarket) 8.5 stars: Hailing from New Zealand, vibraphonist John Bell has a few albums under his belt, including the Sanctus project album, “2 Moons” in 2000. His working partners this time are Melbourne players, Ronnie Ferella (drums) and bassist Frank Di Sario, both high profile players on the local scene. The opening, title track – loose, almost rubato in terms of time, and as ephemeral as swirling clouds of gas – demonstrates the freedom and understated attack that the three piece format allows. For such a low-key outing it’s astonishing how enthralling the track is, and that quality extends to the rest of the album too. Other tunes, such as “Orbits”, are more sharply drawn, yet they also elicit this feeling of relaxation and focus at the same time. This music speaks to you, not forcefully but persuasively with charm and gentle enticement. It can swing, like “Orbits”, or paint languid pictures in something like Keith Jarrett’s “Everything That Lives Laments”. In his writing, Bell has a sure knack for melody – check out “Dreamers” – while his approach to the instrument is mostly to let the chords lay lugubrious waves of vibrato, a thick bed of sound, that easily fills the spaces in the trio instrumentation. The clever theme and voicings at the start of “East West Fantasia” give way to a quite assertive, quasi-funky strut that indicates a different hand to Bell’s, and turns out to be one of a couple of Ferella’s tunes. Di Sario’s “Melody in The Memory of Milt Hinton”, prompted by and guided by the acoustic bass, draws lines as carefully as a charcoal sketch in progress. In all, an album of pleasures, with something to savour at every turn.


WOOD AND WIRES

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Branford Marsalis and Jean-Willy Kunz at the Kimmel Center Live Reviews
Branford Marsalis and Jean-Willy Kunz at the Kimmel Center
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Trish Clowes at Mermaid Arts Centre Live Reviews
Trish Clowes at Mermaid Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Hitch On 2017 Live Reviews
Hitch On 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: February 17, 2018
Read WDR 3 Jazzfest 2018 Live Reviews
WDR 3 Jazzfest 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 16, 2018
Read Chick Corea/Steve Gadd Band At Blues Alley Live Reviews
Chick Corea/Steve Gadd Band At Blues Alley
by David Hadley Ray
Published: February 14, 2018
Read Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band at Sculler's Jazz Club Live Reviews
Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band at Sculler's Jazz...
by Nat Seelen
Published: February 13, 2018
Read "The Specials at Higher Ground" Live Reviews The Specials at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: July 2, 2017
Read "Michael Lington At Blue Note Napa" Live Reviews Michael Lington At Blue Note Napa
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 28, 2017
Read "Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: December 16, 2017