Australian Gigs

This is an article that came out soon after the concert I played at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne, Australia on March 30 2008. I was leading a quintet featuring Australian musicians Peter Knight, Colin Hopkins, Steve Magnusson and Frank Di Sario.

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Tommaso Cappellato Quintet
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club
30th March 2008

Text by Brae Grimes

Every morning, when I begin my journey to work, I think about what the beginning of my day's soundtrack will be. Sometimes it's jazz, sometimes it's metal, and somedays a touch of classical, but after Sunday nights performance I will be listening to home-grown jazz to liven my senses. In one of the most inspirational performances I have seen, Tommaso Cappellato (drums) and his quintet (which included local heroes such as Peter Knight on trumpet/electronics, Colin Hopkins on piano, Frank Di Sario on Double Bass and Steve Magnusson on guitar), fought through free-form structure to create a beautiful, intriguing and coherent performance.

Before I continue, I must tell you that Peter Knight (to whom I had the pleasure of being introduced the previous night at the Melbourne International Biennale of Exploratory Music) is one of my favourite performers and composers.
He echoes great trumpeters like Dave Douglas, Scott Tinkler, and Wynton Marsalis, but brings a completely different approach to every note he plays.

This same freshness was evident on the night: everybody played with their own unique contributions to the musical stew.

From the first note, each musician had their own way of creating change; playing broken rhythms, creating odd harmonic structures, or adding an element of ambient sound to throw the performers into a new direction. The communication seemed subconscious on stage; the flow seemed sometimes obvious and sometimes impossible to tell where it would lead next. The best part was that I didn't mind if there was no resolution! The music was so pure, so raw, that it sounded like it had been written for that night alone.

In a way, it was. In conversation with Peter, I asked what his inspiration was for the music. 'It was all improvised,' he said, 'We just had a lot of fun.'
As did the other audience members. The music sometimes had brooding qualities, clear motives, directive drive and joyous moments. Sometimes these moods were evoked simultaneously.

The real star of the night was Tommaso. His vision, to put together a somewhat unrehearsed band and let them do whatever, whenever and for however long they like, had a brilliant, almost Miles-esque, quality. His drumming was absolutely superb. Using a full range of auxiliary percussion as well the drum kit, his technique commanded rapt attention from the whole audience. It was a pleasure watching his bare hands create phrases that outlined the central idea of themes, then repeating these themes with sticks, brushes, mallets, replacing familiar tonalities with sea-shells on rope and junkyard percussion.

So that's why I'm going to be listening to our own boys and girls playing the music I feel most passionate about. Being a musician myself, I can appreciate just about anything for what it is, but, being an Australian jazz musician I feel we are different to the Europeans and Americans in our approach to jazz. This is refreshing considering how much American and European jazz is available to us in comparison to the Australian jazz available overseas. The whole concert could be summed up with the simple comment Miles Davis made to Chick Corea before a recording session: 'Just play what you hear.' And what a pleasure, hearing what they played.

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