Jazz Lab Melbourne
I didn’t know of Luke Howard but was looking for a gig to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. Jazz Lab is Melbourne’s premier local jazz club, the successor to Bennet’s Lane and not far from Ms Wells’s place.
I read up on him and he has some pedigree. Fulsome praise from the BBC, commissioned work, soundtracks. theatre music, games as well as work with his long time trio comprising Jonathon Zion on double bass and highly regarded drummer Daniel Farrugia. In reading the bio I was pleased to read Daniel saying sometimes I just stop playing because the music the other 2 are playing is so beautiful I just want to listen.
I am currently listening to Luke’s 2018 release on UK’s Mercury, lush orchestrations occasional single note pieces etc. It’s lovely. But this was a night for the trio.
So, in we go on a cold Wednesday night. There are about ten people there. Well, that’d be because you mixed up show start and doors open times you dickhead Junior. Great spot secured, we wait.
A good way to lower expectations is to come on stage with a croaky voice and advise that you can’t hear a thing and haven’t been near a piano for a week. Clearly hauling himself off from his sick bed, Luke opened with some lovely stuff, a simple motif on the left hand holding together some very uncluttered work with the right. The bass sounded shit – dead single notes that lacked fluidity, at least to me and my trusty jazz gigging mater Min. He reckoned it was the amplification or lack of it. Either way, Jonathon was loving it beaming looks across to Luke between checking the music sheets. It appeared they were the key bind, with Daniel doing what he wanted around them.It also appeared that the composing was shared between Luke and Jonathon.
The Necks came to mind esp Daniel Farrugia’s wonderfully inventive playing and the way the music meandered but it this was not straight out improvisation. Each piece would be followed by some coughing by Luke. As a bronchial asthmatic I know that feeling of holding on to a cough- but not while playing delicate noted where the chime is let ring out to its full extent.
After a break there was a wonderful long driving piece, the cymbal work was superb and a louder bass sounded better too. A Joe Jackson piece was in there somewhere though I can’t remember which one.
The evening ended with Luke reminding us it was a month-long residency and he promised to be healthy next time.
Small in number, mix of ages. Attentive, appreciative
It made me think..
Arvo Part, PoppyAckroyd, The Necks, Steve Reich.. they all came to mind but none to the extent that this music was derivative. They are a class act that deserve a bigger audience,