Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Melbourne

My search for live music in Melbourne brought me to the Bennetts Lane Jazz club off Little Lonsdale St. between Russel and Exhibition street (map).

During the night I visited, I was supposedly in for a treat because Australian tumpeter Scott Tinkler (winner of the 1996 National Jazz Award) and his drum, piano and bass trio would be playing. They're described by the Sydney Morning herald as “more intense and exciting than almost anything else coming out of America” and for just AUD$10, I would be treated to his Aria award winning performances.

Unfortunately (and I know this may sound a bit insulting coming from an amateur like me who knows nothing about the intricacies of such award-winning jazz) they sounded like they were tuning their instruments during the hour-long piece!

There was no discernible rhythm, no melody, no beat that you could tap your feet to, just great individual performances mashed one on top of the other. I'm sure they are all excellent players in their own right (and you could definitely tell because of the fast fingers flying and hitting precise notes) but to my ear, they just didn't jive. Maybe i'm too used to usual structured music and this is a wee bit unconventional to my taste.

The ambience is tres-jazzy! No bar-room chatter, no food (they only sell drinks) and no ringing cellphones here. Partly because of the room's small size and also respect for the performances, the audience assumes a hushed reverence while the music plays. This isn't a place where jazz is just background music-- here, it is the main event.

Three pawikan points. I'd definitely be back but I mean no offense to Mr. Stinkler when I say that next time, I'll try to catch a more conventional band (maybe something along the lines of The Frim Fram Four). Some jazz is just a wee bit too hardcore for me.

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