Jazz with benefits

15 March 2021

The pandemic has brought unintended benefits to the Perth jazz scene, says Garry Lee after listening to James Flynn and David Rastrick at the Ellington Jazz Club.

“James Flynn and David Rastrick” ·
Ellington Jazz Club, 12 March 2021 ·

Scottish-born jazz vocalist, James Flynn, made several visits to Western Australia in the 1990s before making Perth his permanent home in early 2000. In more recent times he relocated to Singapore, performing extensively around Asia with enormous success and returning to WA with the outbreak of the pandemic. Rather than living in Perth, James decided to relocate to Denmark, partly to concentrate on composing as well as developing his skills as a screen writer.

The contrast of Flynn’s working life in Asia to now living the quieter life in Denmark, could not be more marked. However it has provided him with the opportunity to hear local talent from the Albany/Denmark region.

David Rastrick is a resident of Denmark who plays trumpet, flugelhorn, valve trombone and guitar. In addition he sings with the gravelly blues drenched voice associated with Louis Armstrong which provided a perfect foil for James Flynn’s Frank Sinatra/Chet Baker sophisticated vocals. With Harry Mitchell (piano), Adam Springhetti (double bass) and Chris Tarr (drums), Friday’s performance at The Ellington was a relaxed and enjoyable evening of contrasts.

Multi-instrumentalist David Rastrick was the perfect foil to James Flynn. Photo supplied

The repertoire included the usual tunes that Flynn’s typically full-house Ellington audience might expect. “On The Street Where You Live”, “Let’s Get Lost”, “Fly Me To The Moon”, “When I Fall In Love”, “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” are all standards that Flynn has performed many times but here there was the added pleasure of Rastrick’s horn playing. His Harmon mute on trumpet and flugelhorn playing was sublime and, at times, reminiscent of Harry “Sweets” Edison’s trumpet with Sinatra.

Springhetti moved to banjo and Rastrick was on valve trombone for “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, taking the listener into a genuine New Orleans jazz club of the 1920s. This was further accentuated on “Basin Street Blues” with Rastrick’s plunger mute on trumpet evoking the great Satchmo and the encore, the traditional “When The Saints Go Marching In” with the authentic second line rhythm.

Again to emphasize this evening of contrasts, James Flynn presented a superb original ballad “Only You” as well as two Paul Simon classics “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover” and “Slip Slidin’ Away”.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the virtuosic jazz piano of Harry Mitchell. Mitchell played mainly “in the pocket” providing tasteful chordal accompaniment but when called upon to solo – as in the second set opener, “You And The Night And The Music” – he provided an absolutely blistering solo showing why he is considered one of the best emerging jazz pianists in Australia.

Certainly the pandemic has provided many difficulties for artists worldwide but one positive unintended consequence has been to present the very talented David Rastrick to a Perth jazz audience.

Pictured top: James Flynn. Photo supplied

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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.

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