Presented by Elder Conservatorium of Music
Reviewed 12th September 2015
Saturday night’s Australian Jazz Icons performance at Elder Hall Conservatorium was at near capacity, with Adelaide’s music and Jazz enthusiasts out in full force. The performance presented not only a celebration of Australian jazz over the past 100 years, but a showcase of the broad cross-section of the genre in its various forms. It was also an emotional farewell to Bruce Hancock who is retiring at the end of this year after 25 years as The Director of Jazz at the Adelaide Conservatorium.
The evening’s MC was South Australian media Hall of Famer and Patron of the Australian Jazz Archive, Keith Conlon. Conlon provided a friendly and informative narrative to the evening and was roped into helping out the performers on several occasions. It was a pleasant surprise during the first set to discover that Conlon is a gun on the washboard —no joke, he is really, really good at the washboard.
The show kicked off with a rendition of “Windows of Arquez” composed by Adelaide’s own Bryce Rhode. From there, the set moved through music from the 30s and 40s up through to the more modern post war era. The big feature of the first half came in the second set when Australian jazz legend, Errol Buddle, was welcomed to the stage. Buddle, born in Adelaide, has been a professional musician since the 1940s and has been at the forefront of Australian modern jazz for decades. He has played in Australia, Canada and the US, was a founding member of The Australian Jazz Quartet who played Carnegie Hall no less than six times, and has been on stage with some of the biggest names in the business.
If that was not enough, the second set also featured National Jazz Award Winner, Michelle Nicolle, herself once a student at Adelaide’s Conservatorium. It was not hard to see why she is known as Australia’s finest jazz singer as she displayed her range with some mean skatting in “East of the Sun West of the Moon” as well as a beautiful performance of “Moon River”.
After interval, it was the University of Adelaide Big Band directed by incoming Director of Jazz, Dusty Cox. Though this set was also highlighted by a couple of songs featuring Michelle Nicolle and Errol Buddle, the band itself was in no way over shadowed by these big names. The full band included some impressive sax, trombone, and drum solos and the show ended up leaving the audience in no doubt that the future of Australian jazz is in good hands.
If there was one complaint about the show, it’s not the talent but the fact that the house lights were on bright throughout the performance. This detracted from the professionalism of the evening lending an informal feel to a show which possibly deserved a more formal atmosphere. However, overall this was a pleasant night out for the jazz enthusiast, as well as being an education for the “jazz curious”.
Reviewed by Gavin Beyer
Season: One night only(but part of a concert series – Concert 7 Saturday 31 October and 1 November 2015)
Duration: 3 hours
Bookings: Book through www.elderhall.adelaide.edu.au