The Foundry 616 Harris & Mary Ann Streets, Ultimo, Sydney. 3 September 2014
Review by John Clare
Walking from Glebe to the relatively new jazz club, The Foundry, I am tracked by various familiar resonances. Ultimo was once full of huge warehouses and bond stores, and across from the club itself, in a brick and sandstone building, was the old Technological Museum. You could see bottles being made there. And many other things, including minerals under ultra violet light. Before all that, in very early days, there was a wattle grove, now commemorated by a street of that name. The Foundry has a jazz hip hop night on Friday, acclaimed by American alto saxophonist Greg Osby as perhaps the best he had seen in the world
Speaking of resonance, Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra hit like a slammed door when I walked in and rose to a wall of industrial din, topped by screaming trumpets. Darryl Carthew played towering lead. This club seemed meant to have been right here.
That quiet man of Melbourne, Scott Tinkler, was here as featured trumpet soloist in the premiere performance of Andy Fiddes’s suite, The Gaffer – a Somerset reference apparently to an old blatherer, but first the orchestra played a set of pieces they had not tackled for years. Despite that the spirit was tremendous and brilliant solos were heard from Fiddes himself, fellow trumpeter Simon Ferenci, alto saxophonist and bandleader Dave Theak and, on a wonderful blues called Trouble and Woe Matt Keegan and Nick Bowd got down about as blues as you can on tenor and baritone saxophones respectively. Keegan was once more at the top of his game on a Murray Jackson arrangement of Mike Nock’s Hadrian’s Wall.
In the next set Tinkler was brought out and unfortunately left standing beside the band with his trumpet, looking fired to go – for a while that is – while a loud and intermittently funny quiz show was held at the front. I saw a certain exasperation appear on his face. Nevertheless, Fiddes’s first piece, opening the suite, made up for a great deal.This was subtly arranged and so transparently played it sounded almost like choral music. Like people singing in other words. Then … a tremendous raft of high brass rose over these softly swaying waters. Then the ensemble – both brass and reeds – returned to the middle register and sang some more, alternating with dynamic, stabbing brass figures. Near the end there were two intriguing soft, bright fugual passages – fractured and rather pointillist fugues (or suggested fugues) that had the magic of a small multi-coloured flurry of autumn leaves. The level of writing remained at an exceptional level throughout.
Scott was not initially at his best, but still sounded distinctive – in fact unique – and strong. As the night went on he released more and of his original patterns and cries. His cadenzas on the closing chords of pieces were particularly magnetic. Due to the declining volume about him his tone became more immediate and tactile in the air. The patterns often seemed to form and stop, like something bright and heavy levitating, and run again – that is to say it felt as if you could reach out and grasp them, but they elude your grasp. Then again, in the one piece that broke into a fast swing, his solid juddering trills and geometrical runs and angles seemed to push everything else aside with a barking aggression and momentum. A trill of this kind is incidentally the rapid alternation of two notes a semi-tone apart. Sounding a little like bird song when played lightly but with a hard, rattling motoric effect when played like this by Scott.
Also exciting and atmospheric were his half-valve effects (valves pushed part way down to give a choked and strange talking effect). Tinkler sometimes blew hard straight through these pockets of choked compression so the brass sound thinned out in wails and screams – almost at times like a slashing sword. Though it was freezing outside it was hot and very crowded within. This tends to make brass play sharp. Furthermore Tinkler had not had much time to digest this new music, but despite some missed cues that few noticed, judging from enthusiastic conversations I overheard, this was kingly playing.
It was also very impressive writing by Fiddes. Each piece had either strong emotion or enthralling atmosphere and texture, or all of that. A special night with the special feelings and resonances one can still experience in a connoisseur’s jazz club.
Foundry 616 on the web
Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra website