Sunday, August 12, 2012


The Street Theatre. Saturday 4th August

Continuing until 12th August 2012.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Canberra’s hot-house of creativity, The Street Theatre, was alive with adventurous and bemused music lovers on Saturday night eager to sample some of the one-off performances included in this year’s ten-day feast of contemporary jazz that is the Capital Jazz Project. As expected of The Street these days, the presentation of this event is superb, with excellent sound and atmospheric lighting to enhance the performances

More than ninety players are participating in this year’s event, with the emphasis on reed instruments and composition,   and although such trend-setters as Paul Capsis, Christa Hughes and Gian Slater will perform during the festival, there was not a vocalist to be heard on Saturday night. Instead contrasting programs by three world-class ensembles were on offer in the two theatres.

 Internationally renowned saxophonist, Sandy Evans commenced the evening in Street Two, transformed into a glamorous, cosy jazz club for the festival, with table candles, gold wall frames and chandeliers. Working with long time collaborators, bassist Brett Hirst and drummer Toby Hall, Evans also included charismatic Indian tabla player, Bobby Singh, to present a series of new compositions that latest of which, she announced, had been completed “twenty minutes ago”, and which commenced with Evans on clarinet setting the theme and mood for a series of exotic, mesmerising improvisations.

Uber-cool combo, Albare, was the attraction in Street One. Fronted by Moroccan-born jazz guitarist and composer, Albert Dadon and including Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa, pianist Phil Torcio, bassist Evri Evripedou, and German harmonica virtuoso Hendrik Meurkens who, in the words of Dadon, was a “German who played like a Brazilian”, Albare presented a series of silky smooth, Latin-American-inspired compositions. Lost in their music-making, the musicians played with eyes downcast, studiously ignoring their audience, who, nevertheless, dutifully clapped every improvisation, the experience of luscious music at this level, reward enough.

Back to Street Two for a performance by tenor saxophonist and composer, John Mackey who premiered an eleven- section suite which he confided was “only completed today”. With titles including “Insurrection” and “Emotional Valour” the music had a very New York jazz club feel, dense, atmospheric, and emotionally involving with its complex progressions and improvisations, providing a satisfying conclusion to a fascinating evening.

An edited version of this review appears in the August 9 - 15 edition of CITY NEWS and in the CITY NEWS digital edition.