Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tim O'Dwyer: Anthony Braxton Composition 23. What's in a number

I had to check my own blog overview to see how long it has been since I put something together. It’s been ages clearly. Since I had no comments or specific requests I assume no one really missed it. Which is a relieve because I don’t want to have any level of pressure around this little hobby of mine.

I can help looking for reasons though, and if I am brutally honest I sort of run out of subjects. Having posted about 140 times and trying to avoid repeating myself to often, it is difficult to keep on finding interesting angles. Granted I dropped the ball on some real good stuff, some international features at the Sing Jazz club for example.  There is also still work to be done in the Indie world, but I am still trying to figure that out; inch by inch.

I was really happy that last Friday I was able to slip out of work on time to attend an early show at the venue soon to be known as “formerly known as the music salon”. A, maybe, ambitious little, I suppose, for profit project for music and other art forms.

Located in a shop house on Niven road the Music Salon offers a cozy setting for music between the sliding doors (This is a direct translation from Dutch. It’s an expression for live music at home.

There is regularly talk about what could improve the music scene in Singapore. In my opinion there are various elements. Firstly of course developing a, paying, audience and for that there need to be attractive venues for the different styles of music. The homey feel of the Music Salon, for instance, was very suitable for what was on the menu that evening.

I have often thought and maybe even occasionally mentioned that there is a need for individuals or companies that manage either musicians or small events. People that are willing to do the leg work to get and keep a band together, get the suitable gigs and making sure that they are properly represented and set up to play. Probably a relatively thankless job apart from a mention at the end of a show but never the less vital for a more professional and hopefully more successful gig scene.

That’s why I am also happy to see that Aya Sekine under her brand Bon Goût Music is working with a small team of entertainment enthusiast to pick up this challenge. Aya has a wealth of experience in this field, from her old venture Aya School that showed bands of different genres and configuration and with a very high entertainment value every week at Blu Jaz and it is great to see she is spreading it.

Of course the need for artist with interesting vision cannot be missed from the equation.  Last night in my opinion was a great example. Tim O’Dwyer put together a beautiful trio of two veterans, Tim himself and Darryl Ervin complimented by a rookie, Joe Lee.

This is where my narrative gets a severely tested because I am getting into a field where I cannot claim any knowledge. I am not saying that my earlier statements are based on matter of fact but the world of entertainment can be critiqued on sort of a gut feel. The work of Anthony Braxton is a bit of a different story. Firstly I never registered the name in the past as far as I remember. Secondly I did not expect the style of music to be so different of what I would categorize as jazz. 

What I experienced as total improvisation had, I was later explained, a structure and clear intention of a single composer.  I heard Tim play, is it experimental? music on several occasions, and he is giving me less and less choice to not appreciate it. Intense

 and maybe intent to make you listen to something you never heard in your life and would not think you would even find a way to bob or tap your feet to. But you do you. Some how you find your way into it

As for Joe, once in the hot seat he admitted that new doors had opened while working on this gig.  I cannot wait to see him on the other side.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sing-Jazz 2016: Cause women rock

It was Singapore International Jazz festival again. Some of you may have seen a small selection of photos on my Singapore Night Live's Facebook page, here's the blog post with my top selection.

This is the third time in a row that I attended and the second time I observed change. The most positive one was the crowd. People came out in big big numbers to watch foreign as well as local stars.

There was some disappointments to deal with, which in all reality is no change. As there were technical challenges last year at the side stage, there were programming challenges this year.

A constant was the time crunch, felt mostly by Seun Kuti and Joss Stone. Continuously under pressure having view of three massive screens with time counting down Stone finally received the following message "You are beautiful but your time is up".

The, in my opinion, equally beautiful musician and stage performer, Seun Kuti

had to do with an increasingly nervous crew member who tried to get his attention to pass on the message that it was time for the "wonderful light and water show". Seun did not care. He had a message of his own "black woman, I never fear your strength, I never say you're weak".


Then of course there were the comments "that this is not jazz" and "that is not cool".


Considering, and I looked quite hard, none of that disappointment was permanently visible. People thoroughly enjoyed whatever was being brought on stage. From the spectacular jazz music of Hector Infanzion

 to the lovely loose, relaxed and entertaining show of Candy Dulfer.

It was all great fun.

As if it was all planned around the international women's day,  women in many cases took the lead. Kicked off on Friday by Singapore's own Vandetta,

followed by the colorful Nai Palm,

the aforementioned Candy Dulfer,

and Joss Stone,

Natalie Williams

and Vanessa Haynes

2/3 of the Incognito vocal power house, and finally topped by the absolutely superb appearance of Omara Portuondo with the Buena Vista social club.

At age 85 she completely owned the stage and what was going on there. Too frail to walk but strong enough to dance.

"Live is good"!