All posts by Mark Pigott

A memorable part of Mark’s childhood, in Sydney in the sixties, was spent queuing up in George Street to watch the latest movies. Mark remains an avid cinema and theatre goer, and believe that the essentials of great drama remain the same in both ‘'genres'’. Mark’s other interests are photography, cricket and rugby. He is happy to discuss the finer points of swing bowling at any time.

ALLY AND THE POLYMORPHIC ORKESTRA – A DOUBLE BILL @ LAZYBONES

 

Opening the evening was ALLY, a six piece jazz ensemble that blends Afro-Peruvian music and jazz to create an interesting mix of African rhythms, Latin melodies and modern jazz sensibilities. A creative music venue like Lazybones is a great space to explore an innovative blends of different musical backgrounds within a jazz framework.

The rhythm section of Stamatis Valacos on double bass, Giorgio Rojas and Steve Marin on percussion set up a great platform for the rest of the band to perform their solos and improvisations. Jonathan Cohen on piano is often part of the rhythm section but also performs solos and melodies that make a real statement and he has interesting interactions with Eamon Dilworth on trumpet and Gai Bryant on saxophones and flute .

Original compositions by Jonathan Cohen, Eamon Dilworth and Gai Bryant in South American styles such as bomba and cha cha cha featured. Eamon Dilworth’s Fibanacci was an extravagant number and the band sounded bigger than its six pieces. An un-named song early in the set featured Gai Bryant on flute and Steve Marin treated us to a cowbell solo. Jonathan Cohen’s Descarguita was a tribute to Herbie Hancock and fittingly contained an excellent saxophone solo. Continue reading ALLY AND THE POLYMORPHIC ORKESTRA – A DOUBLE BILL @ LAZYBONES

EISHAN ENSEMBLE @ OLD 505

 

Eishan Ensemble’s excellent performance at Venue 505 in Surry Hills blended Persian and Western musical traditions in an exciting and impressive way. Their music does not fit into any customary genre but Persian infused jazz could be one label. Persian-Australian musician and composer, Hamed Sadeghi, is the lead of the ensemble. He plays classical Persian instruments the tar and the oud and is accompanied by some first-rate musicians: Pedram Layegh on classical guitar, Michael Avgenicos on saxophone, Elsen Price on double bass and Adem Yilmaz on percussion.

Persian music traditionally has improvisation at its core and combining with jazz musicians and their conventions allows Eishan Ensemble to take advantage of this and create harmonious and fascinating music. Hamed explained that Eishan means “these guys” and that he feels fortunate to be playing with these guys. Judging by their response the audience at Venue 505 felt fortunate to be in the presence of these guys. Continue reading EISHAN ENSEMBLE @ OLD 505

THE CHOIR OF MAN @ THE STUDIO

 

Blokes singing in a pub, some good banter, a bit of tap dancing, some practical jokes and the playing a few musical instruments sounds like a great night out. The infectious bonhomie of this show is hard to resist. Added to this are their delightful harmonies, a pleasing balance of voices and free beer. Before the show the audience is encouraged to walk up to the bar on stage and grab a beer. Again, this is hard to resist.

The narrator weaves together a story about the merits of an intimate local watering hole, the benefits of friendship with diverse characters, and some references to their partners so that they can launch into some superb arrangements of popular songs such as Queen’s Somebody to Love, The Pina Colada Song, The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset and The Impossible Dream.

With the help of some participation from a talented lady chosen from the audience their rendition of Eagle-Eye Cherry’s Save Tonight is one of the funniest songs of the night. The line “So take this wine and drink with me” helped to continue the alcohol infused evening’s theme.

Just as I was beginning to think these nine men from UK are a choir that have added some dialogue and choreography they took out their instruments and played guitar, piano, banjo, trumpet, ukulele, melodica and drums. It’s a more dynamic show than a straight choral performance and features some very talented artists.

THE CHOIR OF MAN, brilliantly directed by Nic Doodson is a fun show and is highly recommended. The audience was clapping and cheering, up on their feet and having a great time. THE CHOIR OF MAN is playing the Studio at The Sydney Opera House until 7th April, 2019.

 

ELYSIAN FIELDS CD LAUNCH @ THE FOUNDRY

 

To say the least, an electric viola da gamba is an uncommon instrument. Consequently, I had little preconception of what Thursday’s CD launch would entail. The simple answer is that it is all about exceptionally creative and innovative music and extraordinarily skilful performers that display their considerable talents with complex and intriguing compositions.

Jenny Eriksson’s electric viola da gamba is at the heart of Elysian Fields and she is joined by the impressive contributors: pianist Matt McMahon, saxophonist Matt Keegan, vocalist and violinist Susie Bishop, bass guitarist Siebe Pogson and Dave Goodman on drums. Their diverse backgrounds might seem at odds but it is fascinating how the classical, baroque, jazz and folk sensibilities can complement each other when the compositions, arrangements and skills of the musicians are all of such a high standard. The delicate interplay of styles and the impeccable harmonies are some of the features that make this unlikely mixture very entertaining and enriching. Continue reading ELYSIAN FIELDS CD LAUNCH @ THE FOUNDRY

MARY COUGHLAN AT FOUNDRY 616

 

MARY COUGHLAN showcased her marvelous and versatile voice at Foundry616 with an eclectic mix of original songs and cover versions. She explained that sometimes she is called a jazz singer, a blues singer and even a folk singer. She used some strong vernacular to express her feelings about being described as a folk singer, albeit delivered with her Irish charm and humour. Opening with Meet Me Where They Play the Blues, a slow and sultry original, followed with the folksy Double Cross, and later a slow version of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart and a mellow rendition of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind should give some idea of her versatility.                                    Continue reading MARY COUGHLAN AT FOUNDRY 616

ZELA MARGOSSIAN QUINTET @ THE FOUNDRY 616

 

We are in Foundry 616 on Valentine’s Day and being serenaded by the ZELA MARGOSSIAN QUINTET with its heady mix of jazz, classical and Armenian influences. Drums and percussion are duelling away. The tenor sax is wailing like a snake charmer, the double bass drives the jazz rhythms and Zela’s piano permeates the room with passion.     Continue reading ZELA MARGOSSIAN QUINTET @ THE FOUNDRY 616

THE REST I MAKE UP : A CHARMING AND INTERESTING FILM

 

“Being an artist you have to abandon any notion of things making sense.” Maria Irene Fornes makes this comment late in the film despite living with Alzheimer’s disease. It is fascinating to observe Fornes’ openness, thoughtful insights and observations and this is despite of her severely diminished memory. Her sister observes that she may have diminished memory capacity but her feelings are intact and her personality exists in these feelings.

Maria Irene Fornes is either described as “the greatest writer you’ve never heard of” or dismissed as “Susan Sontag’s ex-lover”. A founder of Off-Off-Broadway experimental theatre, Fornes is known as ‘Mother Avant garde’ in the Off-Off-Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre world.

When writer and director Michelle Memran realised dementia was causing the once-prolific playwright’s faltering productivity, she began filming their time together. She asks Fornes about no longer writing and she replies that talking to camera is like writing. This film is recorded over several years and is really a collaboration between Memran and Fornes, one mostly holding a camera and asking questions and the other creating stories and making wonderful playful observations. One of Memran’s frequent lines is “tell me a story.” On one occasion Memran uses this line as two small boats pass by and Fornes launches into a simple and charming tale. On another occasion Fornes confuses her original meeting with Memran to the time she first met Susan Sontag. Continue reading THE REST I MAKE UP : A CHARMING AND INTERESTING FILM

TUESDAY : FUNNY, WRY AND INSIGHTFUL

 

TUESDAY is funny, wry and insightful. Its astute observations of four slightly malfunctioning characters make this a worthwhile reason to visit Belvoir’s Downstairs Theatre.

There are four characters delivering a series of brief monologues. They reveal their thoughts and make observations about their lives and occurrences on this reasonably mundane Tuesday. All the characters have a fascinating discord between their view of themselves and their actual behaviours that they reveal as they go about their day. It is the classic inconsistency between the view from within and the view from without and it is brilliantly observed by playwright Louris van de Geer. Continue reading TUESDAY : FUNNY, WRY AND INSIGHTFUL

LUCIBELA @ CITY RECITAL HALL

Lucibela © N’Krumah Lawson Daku 2017

Lucibela has a powerful but mellow voice and used it to great effect in her Sydney Festival show at City Recital Hall. Lucibela is from Cape Verde, an island country off the coast of Africa and a former Portuguese colony. In the tradition of the great Cape Verde singer Cesaria Evora. Lucibela started her career singing Cesaria Evora, Titina and Bana songs for tourists in the hotels of Cape Verde and has taken that background into her own concerts at festivals and venues around the world.

She was joined on stage by a marvellous band featuring drums, an electric guitar, a seven string bass and a cavaquinho. A cavaquinho is a small four stringed instrument from the guitar family. The band was very skilled, passionate and played in a variety of styles. Continue reading LUCIBELA @ CITY RECITAL HALL

LE GATEAU CHOCOLAT ‘ICONS’ : A FANTASTIC SHOW

From his dramatic entry from the rear of the Magic Mirror Spiegeltent to his closing with a singalong version of Whitney Houston’s HOW WILL I KNOW, Le Chateau Chocolat comes up  with a fantastic show. Admittedly, in the singalong he didn’t think the Sydney audience was up to reaching the high notes so he said that he would take it from there. This and similar asides during the concert were performed with charm and humour.

He performs a variety of songs from his musical heroes and links them with stories about his life. Madonna is his number one icon but he also plays loving tributes to various disco artists, David Bowie, Meatloaf, Pavarotti and a few fairly eclectic performers. His interpretations are heartfelt, innovative and make full use of his wide ranging powerful voice.

Le Gateau Chocolat entertains us with his soundtrack from when he completed the London marathon. When the audience laughs at his finishing time he takes them to task, explaining what a herculean task it was and the similarities he now has with Usain Bolt! Continue reading LE GATEAU CHOCOLAT ‘ICONS’ : A FANTASTIC SHOW

JULIA HOLTER @ THE SPIEGELTENT

Pic by Tonje Thilesen

Performing in the spectacular Spiegeltent, Julia Holter’s ambitious post-rock music reflects on the turmoil and disharmony of a post truth world. There are moments of extraordinary beauty in her and the band’s performance but she is quick to subvert the melody and introduce tension and discordance. The overall sound is an intriguing mixture of pop, classical and dissonant music.

Her ethereal voice is employed as another instrument and often soars with Dina Maccabee’s violin and Sarah Belle Reid’s trumpet or flugelhorn. Her voice is at times reminiscent of Regina Spektor, Nico or Kate Bush but she has her own style and is quite happy to let her vocals blend in with the other instruments to achieve the sound she is creating.

Julia’s music has been described as melding influences from classical music and baroque to post-rock, 70s pop and folk, and found sound, all held together by her electronic keyboard and delicate vocals. There are also Eastern European folk influences, especially when Tashi Wada is playing the bagpipes. Continue reading JULIA HOLTER @ THE SPIEGELTENT