Stu Hunter’s 2010 Top 5

Stu Hunter’s name has appeared in a few of our 2010 highlights lists, thanks to The Gathering – one of two suites he performed with outstanding fellow musicians at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival. Seems like everyone who heard it loved it! He was kind enough to take the time to provide his own list of top musical experiences in 2010.

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1. Without a doubt the most moving and inspiring thing I have witnessed this year is surprisingly not live music but a film. Intangible asset no. 82 by documentary film maker Emma Franz is a stunning and moving journey into one of the oldest culture’s on earth by one of Australia’s finest musicians, Simon Barker. It is the story of his search to find and connect with a living master of Korean music from the shamanic tradition. I love that this journey began from the simple act of Simon hearing a recording of this master’s music. The human spirit is the star of this movie as well as Simon and the wonderful characters he encounters. This film is so inspiring and also a great celebration of Simon’s many years of study of Korean music and how he has absorbed that information and developed into one of Australia’s most unique and distinctive musical voices.

2. Ahmad Jamal at the Sydney Opera House. I have always been a huge fan of his approach to music. I love his constant return to themes throughout his improvisations, it is such a fantastic device to ground improv. It continually refocuses his ideas and the band dynamic so that the energy is always moving and swirling and never left to just wander. I keep seeing the image of an enormous flock of birds turning in on themselves and then launching outwards in all directions. There is a joy to Mr Jamal’s music and it can be seen in the interaction of the band, especially the connection between himself and the masterful Herlin Riley on drums. I could watch them play for weeks.

3. My favourite live performance experience of the year was ten minutes spent in a small wing of the Art Gallery of NSW. During the October long weekend the gallery played host to an astounding gathering of indigenous artists from around Australia. Musicians, dancers, painters and story tellers shared their work and their knowledge and for those lucky enough to witness, it was unforgettable. The highlight for me was a performance by a group of women from Yirrikala in Arnhem land. Led by senior artist Gulumbu Yunnapingu the women performed a crying ceremony. The room was packed full of people and yet the intimacy was overwhelming. This was a moment of pure sharing and the music of the women’s voices was as powerful and beautiful as anything I have experienced. The truth of music expressed in this way was incredibly humbling and inspiring.

4. The Ian Chaplin Trio at Uptown Jazz Cafe in Melbourne in May was awesome. Joined by Phil Rex and Simon Barker this was a great gig full stop. Ian just blew my mind and inspired an urgent intensity in the band. Not much more to say, they said it all.

5. On a personal note, playing both my suites the muse and the gathering at the Wangarratta Jazz Festival this year was a real buzz. I hadn’t been to Wang for about eight years and to see how the festival has grown with the new performing arts centre was impressive. Also the coming together of the community is great fun, so many awesome musicians and friends in the one place for a weekend, it’s hard to beat.