Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Melbourne International Jazz Festival - closing night with Cassandra Wilson

As I mentioned yesterday, I convened my own private arts festival.  After Saturday's outing to King Kong, Sunday saw me take a seat for the first time in the renovated Hamer Hall for Cassandra Wilson's closing night of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

Since enrolling in the jazz vocal course run by Bob Sedergreen here in Melbourne, I've really lifted my game and started attentively listening to jazz again.  I always listen to music but have such eclectic tastes that I can cut whole genres of music out as I hone in on my latest passion.  Most years I attend something at the Festival and semi-regularly go and listen to live jazz around Melbourne.  The main barrier to doing this more regularly is the timetable - jazz musicians tend to play late, even on a school night.

Anyway, before starting the course, I had a vague recollection of the name Cassandra Wilson, but hadn't knowingly listened to her music.  Fellow students and posters around town and press said that she's a great jazz singer.  I thought I should take the opportunity to hear her sing live and bought a ticket on my afternoon walk past through the arts precinct.  I'm really glad I did.

In preparation for the concert I resisted the urge to seek her music out.  It's not often I can go and hear an artist for the very first time.  It was an amazing, joyous and musically rich evening.  Apart from her incredible voice and interpretation, the band was marvellous.  Conversations between harmonica and violin were never so entrancing.  Despite being unfamiliar with the repertoire, I loved the concert and was pleased that I've learned how to listen to new music.  How can that syncopation or funky rhythm be resisted?  It couldn't be.  Well, not by me, anyway.  The woman sitting to my right threw off an aura of unhappiness from the moment she was seated and left part way through the third song.  I didn't mind.

To my left was an Indian couple and they were impressed that I was coming to hear an artist with completely fresh ears.  They looked at me with envy.  We talked about the Festival and other jazz artists we liked and whether or not they played any instruments (they didn't but had a fine appreciation for music).

Hanging sculpture, foyer, Hamer Hall
© divacultura 2013
After the (unnecessary) interval, we were rewarded with some exciting and infectious moments.  The sound in the refurbished Hamer Hall is very, very good and the seats are very comfortable.  I was interested that with the refurbishment, the colour scheme has moved from the dated salmon and flamingo hues to what will soon be outdated orange shades.  I think this will date in a very quickly.   But  I do love the hanging sculpture in the foyer; it's trapezoidal shapes echoing the architecture of Federation Square, the Melbourne Theatre Company's theatres and neighbouring  Recital Centre.  The arts precinct now has thread uniting it from end to end.  I also liked the lighting which reminded me of glow worms dangling from the ceiling.

© divacultura 2013

Apart from loving every moment of Cassandra Wilson and band, I thoroughly recommend the experience of being whimsical and buying a ticket for something/someone unfamiliar.  Afterall, venturing in to explore and experience unfamiliar territory is the heart of art and artists.

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