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Brisbane International Jazz Festival 2015

Ian Patterson By

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Mixing up the tempos nicely, the trio played a steaming, double-time version of Sigmund Romberg/Oscar Hammerstein's "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise"—originally written as a tango in 1928—with Rikitake's slick brush and stick work truly compelling. The first set closed with a refreshingly relaxed take on Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce," where the trio's slow groove embraced the blues that was such a large part of Parker's musical DNA.

After a short break the trio pounced with a swinging version of Billy Strayhorn's Fletcher Henderson-inspired "Take the A Train." Taking things down a notch, the blues was at the heart of Frederic Weatherly's ballad "Danny Boy"—with Kishi's caressing solo a highlight of the set. African rhythms and swing shared protagonism on Porter's skipping "What is this thing Called Love? The second set closed with a boogie-woogie/swing take on Jimmie Davis/Charles Mitchell's "You Are my Sunshine."

The final set followed the pattern of what had gone before. The trio swung gently on Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," a little more robustly on Jimmy McHugh/Dorothy Fields' "The Sunny Side of the Street" and flirted with Latin rhythms on Hugo Blanco's 1958 tune "Moliendo Café -a number one hit in Japan in 1961; on the latter, the trio's light, dancing groove evoked Ahmad Jamal's great trio from that period. Juan Tizol's "Caravan" closed the concert with some individual and collective fire.

Most of the songs, dating from the first half of the twentieth century, will have been familiar to the seated audience and the passers-by who stopped to check out the music. That the standards of the jazz cannon still captivate says much about the quality of the songwriting. And, when played with the passion and verve of the Hiroyuki Minowa Trio, who could ask for more?

Artur Dutkiewicz Trio

Artur Dutkiewicz, it's reasonably safe to say, is probably one of Poland's busiest jazz musicians. In a little over half a year he has played in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Poland, Brazil, Portugal, and on this current tour in Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia. That he and his trio of bassist Michal Baranski and drummer Grzegorz Grzyb are in such demand internationally will have come as no surprise to the full house that witnessed this highly memorable gig at JMI Live on Thursday evening.

JMI is Jazz Music Institute, the only jazz studies course in Australia that offers a degree program. Performance is an important part of the JMI program and what better education could there be for jazz students than to watch the world class Artur Dutkiewicz Trio in action?

The trio felt its way slowly into "Passage" where the flow in dynamics was as striking as the musicianship itself. Spare bass slipped into a grooving ostinato, whispering brushes gave way to ever more vibrant stick work and Dutkiewicz' spacious impressionism soon gained wings, flying and tumbling playfully. A hypnotic solo intervention showed why Baranski has been voted Best Bass Player by the readers of Poland's legendary Jazz Forum magazine, with the trio then reuniting briefly for one final hurrah.

Equally convincing at slower tempos, the trio's lyricism was to the fore on a lovely interpretation of a Polish mazurka. Dutkiewicz has recorded an entire solo album of mazurkas—Mazurki (Pianoart, 2012)—and his playing shared some of the folk-cum-classical nuance of Czech jazz master Emil Viklicky.

An up-tempo burner followed; Baranski fulfilled an anchoring role as Grzyb's explosive drumming fired Dutkiewicz to thrilling improvisations that swept the length of the keyboard. A quiet passage framed a delicate solo from Baranski before Dutkiewicz revisited the melody. The trio went into the break on the back of a blues 'n' funk mid-tempo workout, with Grzyb employing hands then sticks.

The second set began with a sultry, blues-drenched slow number, with brushes, mallets and spacious bass underpinning Dutkiewicz's flowing lines. Baranski—first call bassist for Bennie Maupin when touring Europe—took another exquisite solo, eventually ushering the other two in, though it was Dutkiewicz who had the final say with an extended solo meditation of some finesse.

The trio was at its most dynamic on "Prana," the title track of Dutkiewicz's latest CD. From the stirring bass ostinato of the intro, the music unfolded in undulating waves of intensity. High energy trio dialog, brooding impressionism and freewheeling improvisation rotated in an absorbing musical carousel. By contrast, the simple elegance of a Hindu-inspired tune could almost have come from the Abdullah Ibrahim school of hymnal jazz.

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