New sounds in new venue

8 November 2021

As the Perth International Jazz Festival wraps up Scott Tinkler and Ghost Gum Reverb play Hackett Hall, which Garry Lee discovers is the ideal venue for experimental music.

“Scott Tinkler Solo” & “Ghost Gum Reverb”, Perth International Jazz Festival ·
Hackett Hall, 7 November 2021 ·

This year, as with 2020, Perth International Jazz Festival was placed with the impossible task of presenting actual international artists. This was partially solved by Tasmanian based trumpeter Scott Tinkler, of proven international calibre, who was able to fly the direct non-stop route from Hobart to Perth.

Tinkler has long been an uncompromising trumpeter from the jazz tradition who has continually explored other music traditions including Carnatic music from India and Korean classical and contemporary music. His collaborations with pianist Paul Grabowsky including a New York recording with Branford Marsalis further emphasize Tinkler’s jazz credentials.

The notion of presenting a concert of solo trumpet is certainly not for the faint hearted. Stamina and technique are given requisites obviously but more importantly is the ability to improvise music with light and shade that takes the listener on a journey. This was not jazz in the usual manner but music that reflected the life experiences of a skilled, complex and adventurous artist. In this sense it is music that transcends genre becoming ultimately its own genre and therefore making the notion of pigeon-holing meaningless and redundant.

Using devices like drawing water from a bowl and blowing through the trumpet, exploring the overtones of blowing the trumpet onto a cymbal and utilizing multi phonics or split tones provided exceptional contrasts within the 45 minute improvisation. Tinkler’s use of a repeated motif in the lower register juxtaposed with improvised phrases in the higher register underlined his study of Carnatic music as well as showing an awareness of minimalist composer Steve Reich and Xenakian architectures. Like the venue for the concert Tinkler’s music expressed a timelessness and purity reflecting the process of life but whereas a museum’s main concern is the past, Tinkler reflects the past while providing expanding horizons for the future.

Legend jazz trumpet player Scott Tinkler works with water in his solo show. Photo: Ewa Ginal-Cumblidge

A concert by Ghost Gum Reverb commenced at 3pm, an hour or so after the conclusion of Scott Tinkler’s performance, and was an appropriate and contrasting performance to his solo work. Ghost Gum Reverb is a quartet of young Perth musicians comprising Josten Myburgh (alto saxophone), Jameson Feakes (electric guitar), Djuna Lee (double bass) and Ben Greene (drums).

The instrumentation may conjure thoughts of the Paul Desmond Quartet or Don Burrows’ Quartet with George Golla but these artists were exploring areas never covered or possibly envisaged by Desmond and Burrows. The arco (bowed) bass of Lee created a continual drone pulse for the first 25 minutes where Theakes’ adroit use of volume pedal and harmonics on his Telecaster and Greene’s use of timpani mallets on toms allowed Myburgh to layer various sounds and textures over the top.

At one stage Myburgh disengaged the sax mouthpiece and created an amazing shimmering hissing effect utilizing electronics and his right hand above the bell. Lee moved to pizzicato and although there was never a tempo per se there was an overriding feeling of pulse with the ensemble coming to a crescendo at the 35 minute mark. Again the music took the listener on a logical journey and the ability and willingness of each musician to embrace silence showed a very clear strong relationship and trust within the quartet. At 40 minutes the ensemble moved into a decrescendo and masterfully brought their performance to a conclusion utilizing an accumulation of silences. Ghost Gum Reverb, despite their younger age, possess a clarity of concept with what they wish to achieve. This certainly is an ensemble that will be worth supporting into the future.

The success of both performances owed much to the acoustics and setting. It is a bonus for Perth that a new venue in the Northbridge precinct has been created. WA Museum Boola Bardip’s Hackett Hall provides the ideal venue for experimental music and it certainly appeared the two audiences of about 50 each were enthusiastic about the music in this new setting.

Pictured top: experimental jazz group Ghost Gum Reverb play under the blue whale skeleton at Hackett Hall. Photo: Nathan Bullivant

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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

  • New music swings big band

    The future of jazz is in good hands, says Garry Lee after witnessing the new compositions emerging from the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra.

  • Jazz fusion a fabulous festejo

    A melting pot of musical traditions are celebrated in a live recording project at the WA Academy of Performing Arts, says Garry Lee.

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