Dog's Head peering out from a train
April 19, Calendar, Festivals, Film, Jazz, Music, Performing arts

Film: Western Waves Film Festival

4 – 7 April @ Northbridge Piazza ·
Presented by City of Perth and Screenwest ·

City of Perth supported by Screenwest proudly present Western Waves, a celebration of Western Australian feel-good feature length film, short film and musical performances. WA’s striking landscape with its harshness and beauty inspires many of the stories while the iconic humour that has become a hallmark of our identity shines through in these delightful films, which represent only a slice of the diversity of Western Australia and the experiences of its people. Featuring new and classic movies from local filmmakers as well as a special jazz performance by Libby Hammer on the Saturday, the Western Waves Film Festival has something to captivate everyone, from families to film buffs alike.

Northbridge Piazza on the corner of Lake and James Street

More info
W: www.visitperth.com.au/events
E:  miranda@animationartroom.com

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2 men performing on stage
Calendar, Jazz, May 19, Music, Performing arts

Music: James Morrison & Kurt Elling

9 May @ Perth Concert Hall ·
Presented by 4Di Touring ·

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s one you do not want to miss! For the first time ever in Australia, two of the world’s great jazz performers will be joining forces to showcase their exceptional talents, in one very special show.

What a scintillating combination, world-renowned trumpet maestro and ARIA Award Winner,  James Morrison, and the stand out jazz vocalist of our time, Chicago’s Grammy Award Winner, Kurt Elling, together at last!

Get ready to be mesmerised by renditions of your favourite jazz standards and be entertained by the brilliant showmanship and infectious energy of these gifted performers, with some of the best jazz musicians in the country, including the amazing New York-based saxophonist, Troy Roberts.

Don’t miss this rare chance to experience these international jazz greats together for the first time. It promises to be the jazz concert event of the year.

You’ll be swingin’ from the first note!

“The Genius” – Ray Brown
“Elling is the standout male vocalist of our time” – New York Times
“A kind of Sinatra with superpowers” – The Guardian

More info
W: www.perthconcerthall.com.au/events/event/james-morrison-and-kurt-elling
E:  boxoffice@perthconcerthall.com.au

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Calendar, Jazz, March 19, Music, Performing arts

Music: Perth Jazz Society Double Album Launch: MEJADRA and MARC OSBORNE

26 March @ Ellington Jazz Club ·
Presented by Perth Jazz Society ·

The Perth Jazz Society are proud to host a double album launch event, featuring debut albums by Imogen Thomson and Austin Salisbury (MEJADRA) and Marc Osborne (People). In 2018, PJS sponsored the recording projects of these up and coming musicians. Through our relationship with recording studio Procopy, PJS provided free studio hire, engineering time and access to a grant writer to 2 deserving artists – Imogen Thomson and Austin Salisbury (MEJADRA) and Marc Osborne.

Imogen Thomson/Austin Salisbury – MEJADRA

Imogen Thomson/Austin Salisbury – This newly formed group combines the improvisation and harmonic intricacies of Jazz with the primal groove and percussive sounds of Afro-Cuban music. Leading the band is Imogen Thomson on percussion and Austin Salisbury on piano. Inspired by the likes of Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Lionel Loueke and Pedrito Martinez, they  have enlisted the help of Alex Reid (drums), Jeremy Thomson (guitar) and Alistair Peel (double bass). The group released their debut album “Mejadra” in November of 2018 at the Perth International Jazz Festival.

MARC OSBORNE – People

Marc Osborne has been on the jazz scene for over 10 years, playing as a sideman and musical director in many of Western Australia’s most acclaimed ensembles. His debut album ‘People’ is his first official documentation as a band leader with his quartet, featuring the formidable young talents of Jacob Mitchell (guitar), Alistair Peel (bass) and Daniel  Harrison (drums).

With the birth of his first son this year, Marc has written a collection of musical reflections on the people that have shaped him over the course of the last 10 years and continue to influence and inspire him, personally and musically.

More info
W: www.ellingtonjazz.com.au/event/perth-jazz-society-double-album-launch-mejadra-and-marc-osborne/
E: secretary@perthjazz.com

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Five musicians in formal wear sit on a couch, with tasselled lamps and rustic brick backdrop
Jazz, News, Reviews

Sassafras satisfies

Fringe World review: Sassafras: Under Paris Skies⋅
Ellington Jazz Club, January 24⋅
Review by Steve Baitz⋅

Acoustic gypsy-jazz band Sassafras presented a world-class musical performance to the capacity audience that filled Ellington’s Jazz Club on Thursday night. The five-piece band entered as the lights dimmed and, before our eyes could adjust to the darkness, launched into a haunting rendition of Jacques Brel’s Le diable (Ça va), evoking the Paris of Picasso, Dali and Matisse.

Jessie Gordon fronted the band, her scintillating vocals coaxing the audience into involuntary rhythmic finger snapping and tapping our emotions. The musicians fed off each other’s energy as well as that of the room with tight synchronicity. A rendition of Je t’aime highlighted the skills of Pete Jeavons on double bass. Sidney Bechet’s Si tu vois ma mere allowed Adrian Galante to shine with a clarinet solo that absolutely wowed the appreciative audience.  Aaron Deacon and Lachlan Gear kicked in with excellent guitar work, ably anchored by Jeavons on bass. The title song, Under Paris skies was released gently to the crowd followed by Le deux guitares, Spencer Williams’ I’ve found a new baby, and of course, Edith Piaf’s La vie en rose. The audience applause was eventually interrupted by the final number, Toute ma joie. Gordon aptly described the night’s musical journey as 75% emotional agony and 25% joy.

Club manager, Tony Wallace, kept operations smooth with an unobtrusive food and beverage service to a responsive and respectful crowd – a perfect venue for Sassafras’s performance. This proved to be a most enjoyable hour. I went in quite grumpy from a tough day and left feeling light and satisfied.

Picture Top: The musicians from Sassafras. Photo: Corey James

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Lady seated with 6 men standing
Fringe World, Fringe World Sessions 2019, Jazz, Music, News

A passport to another place

For West Australian jazz musician Kate Pass, music is a means of transcending cultural and geographical boundaries, a passport to other places and a way of communicating across language barriers. As leader and composer of Kate Pass Kohesia Ensemble, she brings together her passion for Persian music and jazz, and the group’s 2019 Fringe World show, Kohesia Presents: A Night of Persian Jazz, promises to transport audiences to another place. Seesaw chatted to Pass to find out more.

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be a musician?
Kate Pass: I always enjoyed music as a child, and was encouraged from a young age to be creative and play. I remember going to concerts, being in awe of musicians performing on stage and thinking to myself, “I’d love to do that!” After playing trombone for a few years in high school, I picked up a double bass and within a few weeks of learning, I decided that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

S: Tell us about your training…
KP: I was lucky to be part of a newly-introduced instrumental music program at Newman College, where I had some great music teachers. After school I went to WAAPA and studied for a Bachelor of Music (Jazz). A lot of my learning was done on the job though, from playing a wide variety of gigs with a broad range of musicians. There’s always more to learn, and much can be gleaned from working with, and watching, other musicians.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
KP: I’m a double bass player – usually this means I’m a side-person, but I also lead my own band (Kohesia Ensemble). I compose the music myself for Kohesia, inspired by my love of Persian music and jazz. As well as performing live, I spend a lot of time playing music on my own, or jamming with friends, as well as composing and trying to come up with new ideas.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
KP:  Every day is different! It’s also really special to work with so many talented musicians, and connect with them both musically and personally over a long period of time. I also love the way music transcends cultural boundaries – you can go anywhere in the world, and even if you don’t speak the same language, if you both play music, you can communicate and understand a lot about each other through music.

S: Career highlight so far?
KP:  Through being a musician, I have had some amazing opportunities to travel. Some highlights would be playing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with Persian singer Tara Tiba, and also at my favourite world music festival, WOMADelaide, with the same band. Recording my debut album “Kohesia” was also a really special experience!

S: Funniest career moment so far?
KP: Being on a 10-day cruise and getting so seasick I could only get out of bed to perform – and had a very green tinge on stage! I never missed a performance though!

S: Tell us about Kohesia Presents: A Night of Persian Jazz
KP: “Kohesia Presents: A Night of Persian Jazz” will take audiences on a journey, exploring the sounds of Persian modes and instruments with jazz. It features my original music, which enables a musical conversation between the unique voices of amazing musicians within the ensemble. Unusual time structures, microtonal melodies and soaring solo sections will transport audiences to another place.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
KP: I’m fortunate to be involved in several other Fringe Shows, so I’m really looking forward to performing with Adam Hall and the Cuban Young Guns, and Perth Cabaret Collective. I’m also excited to see some circus and cabaret acts that I wouldn’t usually get to see throughout the year. More than anything I’m looking forward to the great vibe that Perth has during Fringe World.

S: What is your favourite part of the playground?
KP: Monkey bars

You can catch Kohesia Presents: A Night of Persian Jazz @ The Sewing Room, Perth on January 30 & February 10

Pictured top is Kate Pass (centre) with Kate Pass Kohesia Ensemble.

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WASO Gershwin
Calendar, Jazz, June 19, Music, Performing arts

Music: Gershwin Reimagined

7 June @ Perth Concert Hall ·
Presented by West Australian Symphony Orchestra ·

Broadway glamour with a honeyed jazz soul.

When the worlds of jazz and classical collide, they create dazzling sparks, America’s greatest composer for popular love ballads and Broadway charm is given an intoxicating new life with two of the hottest voices in the world of jazz today.

Bursting onto the UK mainstage in 2013, Laura Mvula is described as the Nina Simone of her generation, recognised for her molasses-rich soulful vocal and beautiful harmonies. Blessed with a honeyed baritone voice, José James is a sensation in the modern jazz scene. Together with conductor and creator Troy Miller, their astonishing performance of Gershwin Reimagined with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra makes for a completely unmissable event.

Troy Miller’s re-imagining of Gershwin’s song book is done with an unbridled energy and deep respect, showcasing the exquisite melodies of the classics such as Embraceable You, Summertime (Porgy and Bess), I Got Rhythm and lots more.

More info
W: www.waso.com.au/concerts-tickets/whats-on/concert/gershwin-reimagined
E:  waso@waso.com.au

Pictured: Gershwin Reimagined

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Dirty Jazz
Calendar, Fringe World, Jazz, Music, Performing arts

Music: Dirty Jazz

18 – 20 January @ Duke of George, Fremantle ·
21 – 24 January @ The Ellington Jazz Club ·
Presented by Jessie Gordon ·

Jessie is no stranger to the darker side of jazz. Joined by the incredibly talented pianist Adrian Galante, Jessie delves into the depths of the dirtiest jazz tunes around for a thrilling speakeasy adventure.

There are more filthy songs about drinking, thinking and fine dining than you can poke a stick at, and none of them are safe for regular consumption. There are songs for the swooning moonshiners, those inclined to wine, those frisky for whisky and some odes to our favourite friends, those tenders of the bar. In the dark, dingy cornersand smokey recesses of the Golden Era of Swing, there are songs to address your every desire, there is room for all your dirty deeds andtime for you to unwind with a refined beverage.

More info
W: www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/dirty-jazz-fw2019
E:  hello@fringeworld.com.au

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Jazz, Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

A different kind of Nutcracker

Review: West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra, ‘Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker‘ ⋅
Quarry Amphitheatre, November 22 ⋅
Review by Rosalind Appleby ⋅

The sugar plum fairy and dancing mice are synonymous with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, a classic Christmas ballet (you can read Seesaw’s review of the current West Australian Ballet production here). But at the Quarry Amphitheatre a very different kind of Nutcracker is being performed by the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra.

In 1960 the sparkling tunes from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite (essentially the highlights reel from the ballet) were arranged for big band by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. When it comes to big band music you can’t go wrong with the Ellington/Strayhorn combination; their inventive use of the big band in the mid twentieth century elevated jazz to an artform. Their Nutcracker was an inspired choice to close the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra successful 2018 season, a year where they have sold over  8000 tickets, a huge growth from 1500 tickets in 2016. On Thursday night the audience at the beautiful Quarry Amphitheatre settled in for a good night, dodging the occasional rain drop as the moon rose behind the stage.

Tchaikovsky’s tunes are whistle-able and instantly recognisable and Ellington and Strayhorn’s arrangements are both fun and moody, fragmenting Tchaikovsky’s melodies between different instruments and colouring with muted brass and Dixeland cacophony. And then there are the harmonies: 19th century romanticism infused with a good dose of blue notes and perfect cadences left suspended midair.

The WA Youth Orchestra performing at the Quarry Amphitheatre. Photo Justine Thornley.

When the plush horn section of  the Wednesday Night Orchestra started playing the overture theme over a walking bass line it was as though Tchaikovsky had exchanged a crisp dinner suit for a velvet coat and cigar. Led by director Mace Francis the band brought their lush sound and tight groove to the slow shuffle of Toot Toot Tootie Toot (based on Dance of the Reed Pipes), the New Orleans wail of the Sugar Rum Cherry (The Sugar Plum Fairy) and Arabian, Russian and Chinese dances. A highlight was the contributions from WAYJO alumni Ben Clapin on clarinet. But it was a mixed performance. Cracks appeared in the sparser sections revealing tuning and timing issues, and the Arabian dance needed more meticulous rehearsal to enable it to hold together.

The first half of the evening featured the energetic band director Marty Pervan leading the Tuesday night orchestra  through a set list of Ellington favourites. The band swung hard through Cottontails, Ko-Ko, Take the A Train and Braggin in Brass. Singer Jordan Boase joined the band and his smokey vocals in Rocks in My Bed were a highlight.

A footnote: I’m still waiting for the day WAYJO’s Women in Jazz program begins to feed players into the orchestras and balance the gender disparity in the line up. Three women in a 17 piece piece ensemble is a glaring issue; the jazz world is still well behind when it comes to gender parity.

Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker concludes November 23 at the Quarry Ampitheatre. WAYJO’s 2019 season is now available.

Picture top: musicians from the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra. Photo Tom Greble.

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Jazzmeia Horn
Calendar, Jazz, Music, Performing arts, Perth Festival

Music: Jazzmeia Horn

1 March @ Perth Concert Hall ·
Presented by Jazzmeia Horn ·

Vocalist extraordinaire Jazzmeia Horn has a name that speaks for itself. With her stunning vocals and vibrant onstage presence, she has quickly become a young star worthy of a place alongside the best headlining jazz vocalists of today.

Since winning the Thelonious Monk Competition in 2015, she has gone from triumph to triumph with her debut album earning a Grammy Award nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2018.

Drawing on her love for iconic singers of the 1950s and ’60s like Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan, Horn has created a sound that is all her own, exhibiting an expressive range, inspired scatting and a vivacity that is infectious.

This Festival concert features jazz, soul and gospel classics performed with a swinging beat and a taste of neo-soul by an artist hailed as the future of jazz.

With a name that’s easy to remember and talent that’s impossible to forget, Jazzmeia Horn is the real deal.

More info:
www.perthfestival.com.au/event/jazzmeia-horn

Pictured: Jazzmeia Horn, credit: Jacob Blickenstaff

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Kate Pass smiles as she looks down at her fingers plucking the string bass
Jazz, Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Jazz festival wraps up as one of the best

Review: Perth International Jazz Festival Day 3 ⋅
State Theatre Centre, November 11 ⋅
Review Steve Baitz ⋅

The sun was beating down inexorably on the State Theatre Courtyard on Sunday, the last day of the Perth International Jazz Festival. I was there to hear the Pete Jeavons Quintet, a group of jazz musicians led by bass player Pete Jeavons who have played together for so many years their solos are cued seamlessly and in perfect harmony. You would have to travel very far indeed to find a better group of jazz musicians and yet the venue appeared almost empty. This made no sense at all. The quality of the jazz warranted sell-out crowds. I found protection from the sun in a small shady section jam-packed with enthusiasts.

The set opened with an original composition called Flipside and continued with some of Jeavon’s original compositions alongside re-arrangements of standards like Irving Berlin’s The Best Thing for You is Me. Jeavons re-harmonised Jerome Kern’s Yesterday so extensively that he re-titled it The Days before Today. The quintet was a sheer joy to hear. The very appreciative and enthusiastic crowd-in-the-shade laid testament to the quality. Solos from Jamie Oehlers on saxophone, Jeremy Greig on trombone and Tom O’Halloran on piano were held tightly together by the magical rhythm-keeping of drummer Daniel Susnjar and Pete Jeavon’s sublime double bass.

The Pete Jeavons Quintet sizzle on Sunday afternoon at the festival. Photo Steve Baitz

Moving out of the sun to the Rehearsal Room the Kate Pass Kohesia Ensemble offered a varied jazz experience with strong Persian influences mixed with contemporary jazz. The microtonal elements of Esfander Shahmir’s daf (frame drum) and Mike Zolker’s oud playing were well backed and harmonised by Marc Osborne on saxophone, Ricki Malet on trumpet, Chris Foster’s piano and the brilliantly versatile percussion of Daniel Susnjar. Pass provided musical direction, composition and the tempered sounds of her bass. Selections from the 2018 album Kohesia included Nahafsi, Catalyst, Origin and Moongate and showcased Pass’s well-articulated melding of Persian folk music and western jazz. The band’s superlative musical improvisation was underpinned by the cadence of Daniel Susnjar’s drumming.

The husband and wife team of Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura stretched the range of jazz much further. The Japanese duo’s journey to Perth began with a chance meeting with festival artistic director Mace Francis in New York. They played to a well attended audience in the State Theatre’s Rehearsal Room. Publicity material promised they would premiere Fujii’s Fukushima suite commemorating the 2011 earthquake in Japan. Instead Fujii and Tamura played the following original compositions; Dune and Star, Prime Number, In Barcelona, Climb the Rapids, Riding on the Clouds and finally Spiral Staircase. The tunes were on the very edge of experimental jazz drawing heavily on classical music phrasing.

Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura. Photo by Nathan Bullivant

Fujii’s use of the piano was expertly combined with Tamura’s use of the trumpet. I say ‘used’ because they managed to get completely unique sounds from those instruments. Fujii produced sounds that emulated a range of instruments from Tibetan singing bowls to the violin, complemented by guttural wind music emanating from Tamura’s trumpet and interspersed with poignant use of silence. Fujii and Tamura played off each other in a way that can only be arrived at after a lifetime of working together. The result was at once ethereal and powerful evoking visions of the proverbial lone piper. The music was presented with little or no cognisance of western jazz traditions and demonstrated the anger and power of elemental nature. This certainly was not the piano and trumpet as we know them.

As the festival drew to a close I marvelled at the quality and range of the performances, both international and local. Big thanks to Francis and the dedicated crew who put on this great weekend of jazz. The mix of paid and free events was very well balanced; one of the best Perth International Jazz Festivals so far. To quote Shrek’s Donkey “Wow, Let’s do that again!”.

Picture top; Kate Pass leads the Kohesia Ensemble. Photo by Mohammad Hosseini

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