All posts by John Clare

Alister Spence Trio: Live

Alister Spence, piano, samples, music box; Lloyd Swanton, double bass; Toby Hall, drums, glockenspiel
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

Since I began listening to the contemporary end of jazz, or what was the contemporary end then – in the early 1950s that was – I have heard many breakaways from forms and styles that had in themselves been breakaways. Sometimes the breakaway movement was sonically more violent, dissonant (even than thoroughgoing pre-serial atonality) and… continue reading »

Ambon, by Lloyd Swanton

Ensemble, comprising Lloyd Swanton – double bass, Paul Cutlan - bass clarinet, saxophones, recorder, James Eccles - playing Lloyd’s uncle’s viola for its first public performance since the 1930s, Sandy Evans - tenor and soprano saxophones, James Greening - trombone, cornet, pocket trumpet, tuba, Fabian Hevia - cajon, percussion, Chuck Morgan - ukulele, Jon Pease - guitar, Ron Reeves - kendang, percussion, Michel Rose - pedal steel guitar, Alex Silver - trombone, Hamish Stuart - drums
2 CDs, Bugle Records. 36-page booklet
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

The question hanging over the Ambon interlude of WWII (for those who have actually heard of it) – is this: why send a cursory force to defend a small island against the Japanese when that island had little strategic value, being closer to Indonesia than to Australia (indeed it is now part of Indonesia)? Well,… continue reading »


Jeremy Sawkins Organ Quartet. Jeremy Sawkins, guitars; Darren Heinrich, organ; Spike Mason, saxophones; Toby Hall, drums
Commissioned for ABC Jazz Digital Radio
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

The mystical span of the electric guitar; the funk and dance of the electric acoustic. It is no news that the modern electric guitar is capable of textural blitzes of feedback and a whole range of distortion effects. It is also true that it is capable of pure, thin, finely articulated notes that link it… continue reading »

beginning and end of knowing. Mike Nock, Laurence Pike

Mike Nock, piano; Laurence Pike, drums
FWM Records
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

This is a very valuable recording of a musical conversation between two superb artists, one older than I am by two months (like most of the great men we were born in 1940), the other (Pike) relatively young. The recording was beautifully made over two days in March at Rainbow Studio, Oslo. Just how much… continue reading »

Bigly Yellow. 90-minute documentary film

Simon Kent, cornettist, trombonist, composer. Adrian Sherriff, keyboard/didgeridou; Peter Harper, sax; Ted Vining, drums; Roy Voodt, guitar; Stephen Magnusson, guitar. Film directed by Nigel Deans and Nubar Ghazarian
Documentary, Film, Jazz, Music
Produced by Nubar Ghazarian, Tankstand Films, and Nigel Deans, Flying Fish Films
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

This is film is a sounding of someone’s life, a plumb or plimsol line through a not notably stable figure, within but sometimes wandering from the Melbourne jazz scene. The camera has returned to him over a period of 15 years. It is of course Simon Kent, whom I met some time ago in Melbourne…. continue reading »

David Ades: A Life in a Day

David Ades, alto saxophone; Tony Malaby, tenor and soprano saxophones; Mark Helias, bass; Gerald Cleaver, drums
Lionsharecords LSD20153
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

You may have gathered that over the past couple of years a group of highly important Australian musicians have died. As they all played predominately in the area of jazz, the presumption might be made that drug overdoses or drunken falls from rooftops could have been involved Nothing of the sort. Two parallels might be… continue reading »

History Goes Everywhere

The Australysis Electroband. Roger Dean, leader, piano, computer; Sandy Evans, saxophones; Greg White, computer; with Hazel Smith, text, performer, the Blue Bus
Electronic Music, Improvisation, Jazz
Tall Poppies TP234
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“Modernist Manchester project pursued way Down Under.” This is modernist music and then some, related in places to jazz and in others to Schoenberg et al, and post-serial music. I love it. Not everyone will but that’s okay by me, and the leader is adjusted to a divided reception. Australysis is assembled in slightly different… continue reading »

H[igh] Curious

Eugene Ball 4tet. Eugene Ball, trumpet; James Macaulay, trombone; James McLean, drums; Mick Meagher, electric bass
Opening Gambit Music
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

What is this? It is one of the most startling jazz records, unified yet diverse, that I have heard for some time. Where to start? Well, it begins with a roaring gravelly charge on trumpet, trombone and electric bass, over a crashing back beat, followed by brilliant, passionate trumpet and trombone solos… A transparent electric… continue reading »

I’m Talking. My life, my words, my music

Kate Ceberano, assisted by Tom Gilling
Biography, Books
Sydney: Hachette Australia, 2014. 324 pages
ISBN 978 0 7336 3023 1 (pbk)
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

“Eclectic” is surely a key word in the story of Kate Ceberano. In case you are unaware, she has achieved success singing rock, pop, jazz, funk, dance, the role of Mary Magdalene in a highly successful production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and more. Success and even stardom. In pop and rock she has sung with… continue reading »

Jamie Oehlers. The Burden Of Memory

Jamie Oehlers, tenor saxophone; Paul Grabowsky, piano; Reuben Rogers, bass; Eric Harland, drums
Assemblers R002
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

A perceived disjunction between the serious and sometimes even portentous titles of these brilliantly executed pieces and the often gentle feeling of the music held me at bay for a while. The title track must be excepted. This became airborne almost immediately. Racing passages, in which the bass flew lightly, intricately, at speed, on the… continue reading »

Josh Kyle. Possibilities, and Songs of Friends – two discs

Possibilities: Josh Kyle, vocals, with English band. Songs of Friends: Kyle, vocals, with Sam Keevers, piano
Possibilities. Jazzizit Records JITCD 1155 Songs of Friends. Self-release.
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Recently we have seen and are still hearing a renaissance of the sometimes problematical art of jazz singing. Right now we will make some remarks regarding Josh Kyle, whose first CD Possibilities (recorded in 2010) is before us, which we will discuss before moving on to his more recent disc. You will have noted that… continue reading »

Josh Kyle. Songs of Friends

Josh Kyle, vocals, with Sam Keevers, piano
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

See the review for: Josh Kyle. Two discs: Possibilities, and Songs of Friends.

Riding This Road. My life – making music and travelling this wide land with Slim Dusty

Joy McKean
Biography, Books
Sydney: Hachette Australia, 2014. 343 pages
ISBN 978-0 7336 3154-2. Paperback
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

All who have achieved my hand-trembling years will know who Slim Dusty was. Many of this doddering horde will also know that his wife was Joy McKean, who performed his music with him all over Australia. In fact she wrote some of his songs. Young as you may be, you should know this too if… continue reading »

Sanctuary. A meditation on memory, identity, family and the power of regeneration.

Gary Daley
Classical, Country, Jazz, Rock
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

This is one of the most impressive and disturbing releases I have heard in recent times. Disturbing? It is difficult to disentangle the inherent power of this music from personal associations. Okay. Look, there is nothing unusual about me. I have been voted most boring man in Glebe and Annandale eight years in a row,… continue reading »

Sand Lines

Jeremy Rose Quartet. Rose, alto and soprano saxophones; Jackson Harrison, piano; Alex Boneham, double bass; James Waples, drums; Carl Morgan, guest guitar.
Earshift Music
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Jeremy Rose has achieved national and international recognition for his playing and composing with exotically influenced band The Vampires, and through impressive and quite intricately composed suites – on which he also plays. It is always very pleasant and reassuring when as distinguished a player as Mike Nock sits beside you and, unprompted, shows similar… continue reading »

The Cool School of the 1950s. The beginning of modern jazz in Australia

Australian Jazz Quintet, and bands led by Michael Walker, Bruce Clarke, Jack Brokensha, Lindsay Copeland, Clare Bail, Eddie Oxley, Brian Brown, Mike Nock
2 CDs, Australian Jazz Museum AJM 034. Rare Collectable Jazz
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

Curious and intriguing pages of modern jazz Down Under There is at least one oddity regarding early Australian modern jazz. Historically it seems to be back to front. In America the first jazz called “modern” (Don Burrows once sensibly pointed out that all jazz was modern in its time) certainly carried less sentiment than the… continue reading »

This Narrow Isthmus

Julien Wilson Quartet. With Wilson, tenor sax and clarinet; Barney McAll, piano; Allan Browne, drums; Jonathan Zwartz, double bass
Lionsharecords LSR20154
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Here is a band at the heart of Melbourne jazz – with a Sydney man who was once a new Zealander on double bass. Julien Wilson has another band with two Sydney players. They are all part of the underground of collaborators who rejoice in the fact that we have two major cities that are… continue reading »

About John Clare

For fifty years John Clare has been predominantly freelance writing for most prestige Australian publications, as well as Town and Queen and other magazines in England. He has published four books and had poetry read on the ABC and BBC.

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