Category: Gig Reviews

The Paul Grabowsky Sextet at 505

Jazz, to the layman at least, isn’t known for its compositional style. In the dictionary definition sense, jazz is considered purely an improvisational form of art; through musical interplay, the musicians form a collective consciousness which allows their individual performances to take on a much grander form, greater than the sum of its parts. Yet this is not to undermine the role of the composer, whose role in a jazz band is to direct and tap into the explosive potential of his performers, a trend most famously associated with Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus. Continue reading


Kooyeh – Again at the Lansdowne

So we’ve had something of a residency at the Lansdowne. Frankly, it’s not a glamourous place, the beers are overpriced and the sound guys often suck. But I have to say, it’s our kind of place. It’s just grungy enough to have a bit of character, but not so grungy that it’s dank, and uncomfortable. Sure it’s not ideal, but if you’re not there for the music or the steak then you’ve kinda missed the point. Continue reading

Quiet Child at the Lansdowne

So it’s Saturday night at the Lansdowne. You’ve paid $16 for a jug of beer, there’s some punk rock band on the stage, the place is packed and the sound guy confuses quality with volume. Hey, that’s cool, you know what you’re getting, and to the bar’s credit, it never fails to deliver on that. We’ve written about this before; while sometimes it involves being engulfed in a sea of mediocrity, there is the persistent hope that something will eventually challenge the stereotype. Continue reading

Swamp Lizard at the Lansdowne

It sounds depressing, but sometimes it pays to lower your expectations. Not every gig can change your life; in fact if they did it would be pretty damn exhausting. That’s not to say you shouldn’t always aspire to hear something special, just not to be too disappointed when you don’t. Accentuate the positive and so on. If you’ve already got that down then you would have been pretty ideally placed – at least mentally – to catch Swamp Lizard playing at the Lansdowne Hotel. It was a young local band playing in an early slot to a small crowd of moderately interested patrons, and that was how it sounded. Looking somewhere between fourteen and twenty-five years of age in their vaguely pop-punky attire, they took the stage and played some forty-five minutes of loud, grungy, oh-so-slightly poppy rock. There were a few good ideas and a lot of what people seem to call ‘attitude’. They had their thing, and they got up and did it. Providing your expectations weren’t set too high, they weren’t bad.

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What A Little Focus Can Do

“Focus” was an unfortunate casualty in the war of consumerism; our materialistic society leaving a hole subsequently filled by an onslaught of self-help books that turned “success” and “personal achievement” into religions and rendering once decent words like “focus” devoid of useful meaning. It’s evident in some of jazz’s worst but reoccurring stereotypes; the cocky prodigy who never practices and the angsty kid with potential whose own self-doubt ensures he never makes it far; neither with the slightest hint of focus. Both of them a shame when considering the enormous effort it takes to become good at any form of sophisticated music. Ironic too when compared to the hordes of barely musically literate rock musicians, whose half-baked ideas, when given a little push, turn into something much grander; one can just see the transition of Pink Floyd’s Meddle into Dark Side of the Moon as the great example.

Which is what came to mind when at a typically semi-filled Thursday night at 505, the unquestionable venue of choice for yuppies, hipsters and seasoned musicians alike, seeing the reasonably-acclaimed Mace Francis Orchestra, the 14-man youth big band whose efforts and ethos have been likened to other modern big bands such as Thad Jones, Maria Schneider and Bill Holman. Lofty territory for an awfully boyish ensemble (literally; maintaining the traditional absence of non-singer female roles), but to their credit the MFO certainly lacks not courage.

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