Celebrating its ninth year of delivering top-notch jazz acts and family-friendly fun, the 2021 Perth International Jazz Festival Launch was the perfect assortment of jazz through the eras, demonstrating the sheer diversity and uniqueness of acts that can be expected in this year’s festival line-up.
Sometimes it’s the little things, the thoughtful flourishes that really make a night. So, to begin the evening with a ride up The Rechabite lifts with a solo saxophonist serenading attendees was a spark of pure genius. An immediate tip of the pork pie hat to the organisers for that one.
Upon entering the usually vast and open Rechabite Hall, a surprisingly cosy and intimate feeling greeted punters, the perfect ambience for an evening of jazz. With stunning portraiture photography of local jazz legends adorning the hall, it was time to hear from the first homegrown act of the night.
Kicking off the evening’s frivolity with a bang was, Carlton/Pass/Valenti Trio, made up of Jessica Carlton on trumpet, Talya Valenti on drums and Kate Pass on double bass. They treated the crowd to a fun, fresh set of new works and improvisations, which absolutely delighted one and all.
Penny King’s smooth, buttery vocals and Tom O’Halloran’s faultless keys brought the warm, dulcet tones in this more traditional era of jazz offering. Vast Spaces; a fun, playful and light-hearted tune Penny penned on a family caravan trip, of nostalgic notes and twinkly keys made a beautiful end to a great set from the duo.
After a brief intermission where the audience heard from Festival Chair Mar Knox and Artistic Director Mace Francis on the sensational line-up this year’s festival has for us, Nick Abbey Trio delighted the crowd with their striking acoustic jazz compositions. Bassist Nick Abbey, pianist Chris Foster, and Peter Evans on drums certainly know how to make a song build in grandeur; with each offering becoming an all-encompassing stir of sounds and emotions. This was truly, a magical experience which was capped off by a delightful surprise rendition of Can’t We Be Friends by the evening’s host.
To finish off the night, experimental jazz duo Bad Whip delivered some seriously groovy, synthy, deliciously mad beats. They themselves put it best when they said “now it’s time to fast forward through the jazz eras into a Detroit basement in the 90s.” And boy did they. Known from their work together in legendary local outfit Grievous Bodily Calm, drummer Alex Reid and keyboardist Josiah Padmanabhan brought the house down with their pure mix of echoing funky beats, squealing tones, sporadic madness, and just pure joyful energy. What a finisher to the night, which was in itself a perfect display of the vast variety of styles that make jazz such a special and open genre.
If this launch night is anything to go by, the Perth International Jazz Festival will be packed with delights this year. So be sure to check out some of the action as it runs from November 5 to 7 in Perth, and heads to Busselton on November 13.
Photos by Linda Dunjey