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Reviews/Music

Jazz young guns offer glimpse of future

5 April 2022

A quartet of next generation local jazz musicians impress our writer Garry Lee with their musicality and strong grasp of the traditions of the genre.

Ebun Daramola Quartet ·
The Ellington Jazz Club,  4 April 2022 ·

Ebun Daramola – aka Ebs – has made the next step in a promising career in jazz with his debut as a band leader, heading a quartet of superb young Perth musicians.

A close-to-capacity audience at The Ellington created an excellent vibe to welcome the young drummer. The youthful band – most in their early 20s – played with a maturity and virtuosity that would not be out of place in any jazz venue in the world. 

For me, the performance provided a feeling of coming full circle in the jazz scene. As a 16-year-old in 1968 I heard my first live jazz at a Sydney performance by the Don Burrows Quartet. Burrows, one of the great Australian jazz musicians, went on to mentor James Morrison, who in turn has been a key influence in the career of the Nigerian-born, Perth-based Ebun Daramola.

Ebs and two of his bandmates, Lachie Glover (saxes) and Kyle Imlah (guitar), are graduates of the James Morrison Academy in Mt Gambier, South Australia, and Ebs played in Morrison’s band for an ABC TV COVID special from the Sydney Opera House in 2020. 

For the Ellington gig, the three Morrison academy alumni were joined by WA Academy of Performing Arts graduate Alistair Peel (double bass) while many of their peers provided an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience.

The program for the night was cleverly constructed, commencing with the standard There Is No Greater Love, before moving to Wayne Shorter’s 6/8 composition Footprints. Ebs noted the influence of drummer Tony Williams who with Shorter was a member of Miles Davis Quintet in the mid-1960s. Davis was responsible for the next composition, Joshua, that he co-composed with Victor Feldman. 

The quartet: Kyle Imlah, Alistair Peel, Lachie Glover and Ebs Daramola. Photo: Cass Evans-Ocharern

A change of mood followed with the rarely played ballad Everytime You Say Goodbye allowing Glover to exquisitely channel the tenor saxophone of Dexter Gordon. To include a tune like this underlines the maturity this quartet possesses. The first set concluded with the Charlie Parker blues Au Privave that allowed guitarist Imlah to juxtapose his Wes Montgomery and Grant Green vocabulary.

There is a school of opinion that I am happy to endorse that says every jazz concert should include at least one composition by Thelonious Monk. The second set commenced with We See from Monk’s 1956 eponymous album. Again, this is a rarely played tune but the quartet confidently covered it, as they did the standard My Shining Hour

Ebs provided relaxed and witty comments to introduce the repertoire and none more so than his introduction to his own composition Well I Tried. This was an excellent vehicle for Ebs’ drumming and hopefully will inspire further compositional output. Possibly the tour de force of the evening followed with John Coltrane’s Moment’s Notice which we were told is a favourite of Ebs’ dad – good taste! 

In true jazz tradition Ebs invited piano virtuoso Adrian Galante and fellow Morrison graduate Will Pethick on trombone for the up tempo encore Take The Coltrane.

Peel anchored the band superbly and continued the tradition of fine WAAPA bass players that includes Pete Jeavons, Linda May Han Oh and Sam Anning. Glover swapping between tenor and alto saxophones was reminiscent of the great Sonny Stitt but clearly he has been influenced by the entire pantheon of jazz saxophone greats, including Bird, Trane and Sonny Rollins. 

Imlah’s role as guitarist without piano accompaniment is an extremely difficult one. He joined bass and drums to provide accompaniment for the saxophone but then had to retain the intensity and energy for his own solo juxtaposing single note lines and chords to keep the form. Imlah achieved this with consummate ease and, having watched his progress over the last seven years, I think his future looks assured. 

Ebs and Imlah met while attending Scotch College in 2015 and their empathy is remarkable, having developed an almost telepathic understanding of each other’s playing.

Ebs reflects the history of jazz drumming from Sonny Greer and Jo Jones to more contemporary players. His kit is well tuned and there is a polish to his technique that underscores the fire and vigour he brings to his playing. 

In short, Ebs plays with supreme musicality. I look forward to hearing this group again.

Pictured top: Ebs Daramola on the drums at The Ellington this week. Photo by Cass Evans-Ocharern

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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

  • WAAPA serves up a slice of NYC jazz

    In a retrospective performance, jazz virtuoso Barney McAll draws on the traditions of his genre while pointing the way to the future, writes Garry Lee

  • One guitar expert reviews another

    Guitar geek alert: this review contains some technical language and many superlatives as Garry Lee reviews the Kristian Borring Quartet.

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