The Burning Log on Feb 4 was the first time that my producer/keyboard player Stefan Nowak and I have played a concert without the rest of the band. What a treat to have him there. He’s a glorious player.
We had a full house, which was great as it was the first time I have played there. The new management has invested in revitalising a venue that has been a Dural institution for decades but needed work. They have made a great start. Still things to be done but the commitment and enthusiasm is very evident. The room ‘feels’ good, the food is excellent and the service inviting.
I must admit as Saturday progressed I was getting increasingly concerned about my throat. I rarely get problems in that regard (just lucky I guess) but by the two encores I was really struggling. Sunday morning and it felt like someone had lit a fire in my throat and I couldn’t talk for two days. Just getting over the virus now, a week later. Thankfully no gigs before early March when I’m off to Phillip Island for their Music Festival. Should be a buzz. I haven’t played there in many years and the last time I did I think it rained incessantly. Hopefully that won’t happen this time.
I have been listening to Sharon Robinson’s solo album (Invisible Tattoo) while writing this. She sings, writes, produces and tours with Leonard Cohen and has one of the most exquisitely seductive voices I have ever heard. If you saw Leonard’s recent concerts in Australia you would have heard her. The album is lovely. Beautiful songs, lots of space for her voice. Layed back R’nB and Soul, late night listening over a glass of good champagne.
Speaking of listening, Stefan introduced me to a recent album by guitarist John Scofield. Recorded with Vince Mendoza and the Metropole Orkest in Holland it has some of the most adventurous music I have heard in many years. This is jazz with a large orchestra, 50 players, some stunning arrangements and Scofield’s adventurous take on electric guitar that ranges across all his many influences. Vince Mendoza wrote the arrangements on one of my favourite Joni Mitchell albums of recent years (released 2000) called Both Sides Now. On it she re-interprets some of the classic songs from the first half of the 20th century, returning to just two of her own – A Case of You and Both Sides Now. Her version of A Case of You is breathtaking and the whole album contains some of the most beautiful vocals she has ever recorded, not to mention the arrangements, which are stunning. Recorded at Air Studios in London with Herbie Hancock on piano, Wayne Shorter, sax, Peter Erskine, drums and Chuck Berghofer on bass and a 90 piece orchestra (yes 90 players!) it’s a revelation to hear Joni so completely master these songs.
And oh what a joy to hear a real orchestra outside of a purely classical context!
Finally another singer songwriter whose work I have admired for many years – John Gorka. I have been going back and listening again to several of his albums recently. He’s an exceptional wordsmith – concise, heartfelt and poignant. Early songs like I Saw a Stranger With Your Hair and Armed with a Broken Heart still get me every time and his recent work is just as impressive. Simply recorded with his acoustic guitar and subtle additional instrumentation supporting his rich, deep voice he remains pretty much unknown here, which is a shame. He deserves a wider audience.
Okay, that’ll do it for now. Keep listening. In among the noise there’s a lot of great music out there.