This jazz pairing is a match in heaven
WAVETELLER / AVGENICOS BROTHERS
Lazy Bones Salon, December 14
The opening Boot Lick was so delicate that one listened with the same nervousness that one would watch a child juggling a porcelain plate. Written, like all Waveteller material, by bassist Michael Mear, Boot Lick illustrates the project’s penchant for the exploitation of space and dynamics. The often complex interaction between Mear, keyboardist Casey Golden and drummer Ed Rodrigues made the music intense without making it dense, so they were like three dancers whose feet never touch the ground.
If Mear is the conceptualist, it is Rodrigues’ flair for playing with sticks in a low voice that facilitates the realization of this design. He also brings an even flair for melodic invention, so that Balarang, from the group’s eponymous debut album, had keyboard, bass, and drums creating three crisscrossing lines of melody of equal value.
Where this debut album was stacked with teasing rhythmic puzzles such as Up there, two of Mear’s new pieces were distinguished by a melancholy in pastel tones. Dark days even carried vague echoes of the timeless of Miles Davis Spain sketch, while the evocative And the rain is coming had the drums chattering and splashing like a shower on a tin roof, and, as always, Golden was telling us exquisitely crafted stories rather than lazily playing solo.
The Avgenicos Brothers – trumpeter Tom and tenor saxophonist Michael – are now an integral part of the rich fabric of the Sydney jazz scene and have their own project. Initially a sextet, the group performed here as a quartet without bass or guitar, the brothers joined by the shooting vitality of keyboardist Novak Manojlovic and drummer Alex Hirlian.
Just as Mear was a less convincing soloist than Golden or Rodrigues, but created the contexts in which the other two shone, Tom and Michael, who are regularly captivating improvisers in other groups, were less striking in playing their own compositions than Manojlovic. and Hirlian. Michel’s Schyea sizzling like a spit on a barbecue, and elsewhere the band slipped between grandiose soundscapes or wickedly funky grooves, often with Manojlovic providing a bass on the keyboard to pair with the Irish drums, whose snare would have broken. Boot Lick in two.
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