Sunday, May 4, 2008

MJIF 2008: Day Four

Saturday 3 May: Day Four

Even a sleep-in didn’t lift the exhaustion of jazz overload today. Once I’d stretched and meditated my way back onto this plane, I suddenly got very real about the fact that I had yet to write a single word about the festival.

I decided the best, most efficient way to remedy this was to make some food, sit at my computer, get on the phone, book some gigs back home, check in with my friends and just generally do anything available to me except actually writing.

Luckily, the latter of these things proved to be very fruitful. As is often the case, I found a good old chat with my best friend Tnee brought the words pouring forth and that was enough to get the ball rolling. Something about having a best-friend/ musical-soul-mate in my life is very, very good. We listen to each other talk in a way not unlike making music and I think it helps us both work out what we really want to say.

So I wrote some stuff. And then I posted it on a blog. Well, I did that after learning what a blog is and figuring out how to make one. The long and the short of it is – bye bye Saturday!

I hit ‘Publish’ on my first two ever blog posts about 7.30pm and raced out the door to get to Hamer Hall just in time to be locked out of Tord Gustavsen Trio’s performance. I then had this wonderfully weird experience of being shepherded into ‘the viewing room’, from where I could see down on to the stage only 10 metres away, but could hear the music only as if it were miles off in the distance. And it’s very soft music to begin with! So a better option ended up being sitting in the foyer where the sound was broadcast at a listenable volume. As handsome as those Norwegian cats are, I was happy to sacrifice visual for audio.

After the first medley ended, the ushers let in the horde of late-comers. I sat through the concert feeling the calming effects of the music in a less direct way than I had at the master-class (click here for that blog post). Maybe it was being far away up in the stalls, maybe it was the cumulative listening fatigue of the week. It was still very peaceful. The final piece, a new unreleased one called The Other Side of Tango was gorgeous - an undulating tangoesque 3/4 that danced me to calmness.

I cained down to Southgate to get cheap end-of-the-day specials on Chinese takeaway during intermission and strolled fatly back up for Tomasz Stanko Quartet – late again. This time I only popped in for a couple of songs before it was all just a bit much and I left early to ensure getting a seat at the jam session at Bennetts.

The most outstanding feature I remember of that brief encounter was this bizarre irritation I felt towards Stanko’s drummer. It was so intense and just about everything he played really got on my nerves. I’m sure it said more about my state of mind than his playing and probably in contrast to how hard I was digging Jarle Vesperstad’s minimal approach, this guy’s busy-ness was just overwhelming, disappointing and frustrating. Wow, what a rollercoaster this has been!

I did manage to get a seat at the jam and it was another amazing late night live jazz experience. So much so that I reckon I’ll write a whole other blog post about the jam sessions, since there have just been so many great moments.

It was a really nice surprise to run into a friend from Brisbane at the jam session, a great up and coming double bass player Nick Quigley. It’s lovely when the jazz community brings people together like that regardless of distance from home.