Review: Australian Art Orchestra, Southbank Centre, LJF

Australian Art Orchestra
(Southbank Centre, 12th November 2012, Review by Mark Ramsden)

Paul Grabowsky, director of the Australian Art Orchestra, is one of the best pianists and composers on the planet, arguably superior to Keith Jarrett, as Mr Grabowsky does not groan along with his exquisite piano playing, as if in prolonged sexual ecstasy or a particularly arduous bowel movement. His playing is an effortless flow of freshly minted ideas, as if Messiaen or Stravinsky had assimilated the heart and soul of jazz. Although an orchestra generally has a lot more people on stage the musicians often achieved the drive and rich sonic texture of an Australian Bitches Brew.

I would have preferred more composition but then Wayne Shorter is also a tremendous composer and musician who would rather improvise these days. And these were top notch listening musicians who gave us passionate empathic music. It rocked. This is a powerful, punchy ensemble.

The aboriginal singing was striking, a statement as bold as their face paint, and as the introductory lecture informed us represents some of the oldest music still in existence. Didgeridoo and claves meshed well with polytonal improv and a good grooving foundation from bass and drums.

The project Crossing Roper’s Bridge can be heard here, with excellent visual material which added atmosphere last night. Paul Grabowsky’s achingly beautiful improvised solo piano is here. (also with other excellent musicians.) His film scores are also well worth checking out.

Categories: miscellaneous

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