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Reviews/Music

COVID jazz is world class

20 August 2020

International jazz musician Tim Jago is sitting out COVID-19 in Perth and Garry Lee says Perth jazz fans are the winners.

Tim Jago Quartet ·
The Ellington Jazz Club, 18 August 2020 ·

It was once a matter of speculation to suggest Perth’s leading jazz musicians were of world class standard. Today it is proven fact and Tuesday’s sell-out concert at The Ellington demonstrated this. In a jazz venue that also is world class thanks to the vision of its founder, the late Graham Wood, the Tim Jago Quartet presented a program of variety and virtuosity.

The Florida-based Jago is part of a coterie of West Australian jazz musicians who reside in the US. They include pianists like Konrad Paszkudzki and Tal Cohen, Dane Alderson, electric bassist with Yellow Jackets and Linda May Han Oh whose world tour with Pat Metheny came to an abrupt halt in March.

After living in the US for over a decade, Jago returned to Perth to sit out COVID. On Tuesday evening the guitarist led with masterful ease a quartet formed with Perth’s The Grid trio members: Tom O’Halloran (Fender Rhodes), Karl Florisson (double and electric bass) and Ben Vanderwal (drums). It was evident these were musicians rejoicing to perform together again and their enthusiasm shone through.

With an introduction from O’Halloran – “All the way from America, Tim Jago” – the band commenced with a quirky version of Duke Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train” that double timed in the bridge (presumably as the train passed through the more dangerous of New York’s subway stations!). The standard was set and the contrasting repertoire of mainly Jago originals provided ample opportunity for all musicians to demonstrate their advanced technique.

Technique for its own sake is never sufficient on a jazz bandstand, however these four artists provided an interplay of intelligence and humour that was always strongly appreciated by the audience. I especially enjoyed “Calypsoish” that featured a drum solo backed by a 7/8 ostinato by the band and, from the second set, Tim’s contrafact (a new melody based on the harmony of an existing standard tune) on Bronislaw Kaper’s “On Green Dolphin Street” titled wittily “A New Porpoise”.

I had not heard Tim Jago on guitar for some years and I have always been impressed by his playing but on Tuesday I found he had reached another level with his soloing and concept demonstrating confidence, maturity and lyricism with effortless virtuosity.

Jago will again lead the same line-up for an appearance on September 10 at Duke of George, East Fremantle.

Pictured top: Florida-based guitarist Tim Jago is back in Perth.

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Author —
Garry Lee

Garry Lee has played jazz vibraphone and guitar for over 50 years. He was a founding jazz teacher at WAAPA has also been a jazz writer, jazz composer/leader, Churchill Fellow and artistic director. Born in Essex soon after WW2, his favourite playground equipment was dismantled tanks and cannons.

Past Articles

  • Jazz orchestra’s history of success

    Garry Lee, the first administrator of the West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra, goes behind the scenes to discover the organisation’s secret to 37 years of success.

  • COVID the catalyst for songs of freedom

    The pandemic has had an enormous impact on jazz and Garry Lee says there was an atmosphere of joy and relief as WAYJO musicians returned to the stage last night.

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