Brian Stewart’s 2010 Top Five

A folio of Brian Stewart’s photographs taken at The Gods Cafe in Canberra appears in Issue 5 of extempore. Brian has very kindly taken the time to give us his top 5 jazz experiences for 2010 (in chronological order), and provided his own photos! Thanks Brian 🙂

Mark Ginsburg Band – Generations

Mark’s album Generations was definitely a highlight of 2010 – both in concert and on CD. The exploration of the linkages between Jewish cantorial singing and jazz really works. In fact, for me it is a rarity in the world of jazz – deeply spiritual music. Each time I hear ‘Eli Atah’ (played occasionally on ABC Jazz), it stops me in my tracks. Mark’s tone is captivating, and he is very well supported by the rest of the band.

When the Sky Cries Rainbows – Sandy Evans Trio and Friends

This was a photographic highlight for 2010. It’s not often that I get such good light in a jazz venue that the images fall into place as they did for this gig. Sandy’s composition – which invokes post-storm colours as a symbol of hope born from grief – is a long and intricate work that I look forward to hearing again once it is recorded.

Jazz Uncovered 2010

It’s something of a well-kept secret just how alive the Canberra jazz scene is at the moment. This is in large part due to the current crop of students, teachers and recent graduates at the ANU School of Music. Jazz Uncovered was a showcase of this talent – 11 hours of continuous music featuring 22 bands on 3 stages. The breadth and depth of local talent (with a few imports) was amazing.

Stu Hunter – The Gathering

No list of top 2010 jazz experiences is complete without this CD it would seem. My reason for choosing it was because I really appreciate the coherence of Stu’s vision across the whole piece, as it varies from the contemplative to the boisterous. What sustains my interest are the pulsating rhythms. Plus the regular interjection of James Greening’s wailing trombone. A contemporary jazz symphony that I discover something new in each time I hear it. The Gathering was my personal highlight of Wangaratta 2010, narrowly beating out Johannes Luebbers Dectet, the Jef Neve Trio and several others.

Rachael Thoms’ Graduation Recital

Rachael has just graduated from the ANU School of Music, and I really hope that much more is heard of her in future years. She has an outstanding voice. It is versatile, as she varies from traditional jazz singing to more modern, word-less singing in the style of Kristin Berardi (one of Rachael’s teachers). She has excellent control of dynamic range – from singing of great subtlety to great power. She maintains purity of tone. But above all it is unmistakably jazz. I’ve heard Rachael before, but this graduation recital took my breath away.


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