Tim Rollinson’s ‘Nitty Gritty’ calls to mind John Scofield’s enormously successful Scofield Au Go Go of a few years back and in many ways comes from the same place: a love of groove and the improvisational ideas which flower from the deep earth of funk
I am happy to say the new Divergence Jazz Orchestra album – cheekily and tartly titled Fake It Until You Make It – is here. And I want to shout about it.
As assured and fully-formed as The Opening Statement was, the three years between it and the new one has added an even greater depth and daring to Jenna Cave’s writing and the band’s entirely apt and sympathetic reading (in all senses) of her charts.
So as the night progressed and fog was falling outside, the audience was invited on a journey from swing tunes full of upbeat rhythm to torch songs aiming to touch everyone’s hearts and souls.
Led by the energetic Henry K, the 17-piece orchestra (featuring brass, string and percussion instruments in a perfect homophony) was augmented by the presence of three amazing singers, alternating on the bandstand: Tamara Kuldin, Julie O’Hara and Frank Benedetto
The music is located somewhere to the north-east of jazz but definitely south-south-west of European art music. The quartet grew out of Daley’s larger ‘Sanctuary’ project, yet retains that ensemble’s unique breadth of vision, and intricate interweaving of composed and improv elements.
Andy Fiddes’ writing shines as bright as Tinkler’s playing. The range of colours, the breadth of ideas – so many audacious chances taken, chances that all work beautifully – the mastery of the idiom: pushing the big idea of The Big Band forward while deeply knowing its traditions (you can hear echoes of the history all across Fiddes vs Tinkler).
Schwing writes: “When standing at the Neck I see/hear the environment along a pitch scale. Or a colour scale.”
All songs in the album are performed with the same electrifying intensity, from the most high-energy compositions to the contemplative interpretations of standards.
“Keller’s harmonic sense throughout seems to have its own logic, following its path to places, once arrived at, are just where we want to be. Like all valid jazz writing, her compositional language seems to suit the soloists just fine, too”.
It was a high-energy performance, one that had your feet tickling and wanting to burst into swing-dancing or, at times, making your soul let go and follow the smooth flow of notes. Just what one needs on a rainy night in Melbourne!