Kinetic Jazz Festival – Muscians affected by Space. (festival review)

I haven’t been lucky enough to get to every evening of the Kinetic Jazz festival, but what I have seen has been stunning.  Apparently much of the program has been especially designed for the festival, with a variety of performance styles and sizes.  There is the known eighteen piece Kinetic Jazz Orchestra and then some younger bands included in the mix to give a fresh take and perspective on groove.


My festival experience began with Remco Keijzer and Matt Mcmahon, on tenor sax and piano respectively. This performance was the launch of their new CD Dualism.

This was a rather traditional sonorous affair, with two masters dancing in and around some classics and some music of their own making, at times notes so perfectly harmonized you couldn’t tell key from horn. Their second tune was Humpty Dumpty – rarely a two piece affair – but distinguished in the simplicity of the sex and the piano. After that they played Duke Ellington’s Sound of love, that broke the sturdy silence with a soothing sax solo, and now it was becoming clear the aesthetic of the room and the vibe of the festival in general were having the right effect on the musicians. The room was filled with a sound you could feel. Music as massage, the cares of the day slipped off and the music slipped in with well oiled hands. The sound here was light and playful and yet sultry with the piano making the most of the velvet Sydney night. Keijzer and Mcmahon slithered around some Charlie Mingus  and then soothed their way into some home-made goodies. Beautiful tracks that, as Keijzer said in one of his brief chats between tunes, get to the story within the song. Songs written on a beach, songs written for a place to marry, deep, throaty melodic sax and a ticklish, gently nuzzling piano.


It was a beautiful launch, so beautiful in fact, Graham Jones (festival organizer) felt compelled to ask about the phrasing and the impact the room obviously had on the work. Keijzer remarked there was so much more space for their instruments without any other sounds around and he feels closer to his own sound. Jones asked about the beauty of the reflective sound and how different this might be from the CD.  Keijzer explained the room they recorded in was much larger than the experience we had in recital, plus that room had a potent reverb. The sounds are different, but each room brings its own aesthetic that contributes to the music. When asked about the way that Australia may have influenced his work (Remco Keijzer is dutch) he explained that he hoped it influenced his work a lot, as what are new experiences for if not to deeply inform the music.

Graham Jones explained before the start of the next set – an affair set up in the Church proper –  that the point of the festival was to give musicians the opportunity to perform in a recital setting rather than always at clubs as they are used to. It seems this idea worked a treat because we were treated to the most breathtaking sounds.


The next set was the Waldo Fabian Quintet.  here’s a little blurb from Sima to give you a taste of who the great man is:  “Waldo Fabian was a founding member of the Catholics. He is a bassist, composer, singer, and producer who has worked with various pop, Latin and jazz bands and musicians such as The Party Boys, Floyd Vincent, Disco Montego, Delta Goodrem, Swoop, Anthony Copping and Robin Loau as well as having two solo albums to his credit  (Dejame Tocarte, a South American release through Sony and Loco Festival/Mushroom records).”  Standing tall next to him in this incarnation was Ed Goyer on vibraphone, Lee McIver on trumpet and flugelhorn, Nick Bowd on Sax and Rob Cornish on drums.



Watching Waldo Fabian work a bass is complete magic. The rich sound, pulsing with Latino sex appeal pulsed dark, thumping and vibrant. If aesthetic was an interesting combination in the previous set, the eroticism of the Latin Jazz vibrating around the walls of the church was a Freudian wet dream. Fabian was soon joined by the other band members and the wild writhing lashings of sound washed over, around and through us. The compulsion to dance was intense, and though Fabian invited the audience to on several occasions, the grim head shaking of all those statues of Jesus won the day, and we remained pulsing in our seats.  It was a great affect and a perfect way to writhe and sweat to the salsa beat. All the musicians were wonderful, Goyer’s thrashed harmonium licking at the ears while the horns of McIver andf Bowd pounded away at the lower chakras.  Only the rhythmic power of Rob Cornish’s drums grasped firmly at the feet and kept the experience earth-bound and real.  A stunning set.


The night was closed off with one of the younger bands, the new faces of the future of Australian jazz. Going by the moniker of Sports Pants, the marvelous Billy Ward led the guys from his smooth saxy sax with Chirs O’Dea on baritone sax, Axel Powrie on electric bass and John Wilton on the drums.  There is something very gratifying about handsome young men playing jazz and playing it well. It soothes the soul and gives one hope for the future.

All in all it was a fantastic first (for me anyway) day.  I can’t wait to catch more!