Redefining jazz

16 April 2021

Audible Edge Festival continues, with a performance which Garry Lee says challenged the preconceptions of what jazz is and – more importantly – created a platform as to what jazz might be.

“Make a Noise Here”, Audible Edge Festival and Perth Jazz Society ·
Goodwill Club, 15 April 2021 ·

I must admit I attended this concert with slight trepidation. Was I to have my ears assailed by an incomprehensible “jazz noise” that I might find at best too loud?

Thankfully this was not the case. “Make a Noise Here” was a most enjoyable and balanced concert experienced by a large and enthusiastic audience. The balance was achieved in the contrasting approaches of the two ensembles.

Double bassist, Djuna Lee, led a quartet with Melbourne trombonist, Joseph O’Conner, and WA-based saxophonist Simon Charles and drummer Ben Greene. The ensemble played acoustically and the interplay between the musicians was exceptionally sensitive and subtle. There was a sublimation of personal ego for the greater good of the ensemble which created a positive and enjoyable synergistic effect.

Lee’s rich tone and accurate intonation on the bass provided an essential foundation for improvisation that was mostly in broken time. The trombone, in this context, is an ideal instrument and O’Conner was virtuosic employing a range of techniques that reflected the instrument’s role in jazz from “Tricky Sam” Nanton to Rosewell Rudd and Grachun Monchur to Steve Turré .

Drummer Ben Greene led the second ensemble of Dan O’Connor (trumpet), Jonathon Brittain (trombone), Finn Owen (alto saxophone), Dom Barrett (guitar) and Adam Buckley (guitar). Members of the band utilised an array of foot pedals that contributed to the “spikey dissonance” referred to in the program notes. The six piece bass-less ensemble certainly had the potential to implode with so much technology by way of effects – delay, reverb, echo etc – but, perhaps thanks to the seventh member, the venue’s sound mixer, an overall homogenous sound was achieved.

Certainly Greene took the volume to a crescendo at precisely the moment it seemed logical to do so towards the conclusion of the set. The reverb sound on Owen’s alto sax allowed him to create a satisfying lyricism and when O’Connor’s trumpet was featured there seemed a nod to the Miles Davis composition “Sanctuary” from his famous Bitches Brew album. Again the ensemble improvisation highlighted the appropriateness of Brittain’s trombone in this context. The sounds of the two guitars owed something to Dick Dale, Hank Marvin, John McLaughlin (with Miles) and Bill Frisell – electric solid bodies utilising digital effects.

As an experiment in including jazz in the Festival, this collaboration with the Perth Jazz Society (PJS) was an unqualified success. I am sure the co-founder of PJS, the late Don Mead (who owned a collection of over 5,000 jazz vinyls, many of them cutting edge jazz) would have wholeheartedly approved of the role PJS is now taking in encouraging and promoting cutting edge jazz.

Audible Edge Festival continues until 18 April 2021.

Pictured top: Djuna Lee leads a jazz quartet in ‘Make a Noise Here’. Photo Josh Wells

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

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 with benefits

    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.

  • 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.

Read Next

  • Dayana Hardy Acuna as Giselle, Oscar Valdes as Albrecht with the dancers of West Australian Ballet in Giselle (2021). Photo by Bradbury Photography In the white tutu of the a Wili, Dayana Hardy Acuna holds an arabesque en pointe, leaning on the shoulder of Oscar Valdes who kneels in front of her. To their right is a line of white tutu clad Wilis. Romantic tale transcends the centuries

    Romantic tale transcends the centuries

    14 May 2021

    West Australian Ballet’s 2021 season of Giselle demonstrates that this 180 year old ballet still has the capacity to touch audience’s hearts, says Kim Balfour.

    Reading time • 7 minutesDance
  • Sophia Forrest and Darius Williams in 'I and You' A young man and woman embrace. They are sitting on a bed, with fairy lights in the background. She has a year on her face. The arrival of something special?

    The arrival of something special?

    13 May 2021

    In the high-quality double bill The Children and I and You David Zampatti hopes we might be seeing the emergence of a worthy successor to a long-lost, legendary Perth theatre company.

    Reading time • 7 minutesTheatre
  • Grace Ware, Find a place to sit, 2020. Image courtesy Five images of artist Grace Ware, posing with an inflatable fluorsecent yellow life-jacket type object. She is dressed in black and wears a black face mask. Nurturing passion, hatching fire

    Nurturing passion, hatching fire

    13 May 2021

    The 24 graduate artists showcased in this year’s “Hatched” exhibition have created a powerful and pensive testimonial to their generation, writes Patrick Gunasekera.

    Reading time • 7 minutesVisual Art

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio