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One hell of a sound, one hell of a band

Wanderlust concert at The Street.

Music / Wanderlust, The Street Theatre, February 13. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

Enduring, innovative and diverse music that references the entire world of musical influences is part of Wanderlust’s praise. At its 30th anniversary concert at the Street Theater in Canberra, its seven members proved they deserved all the praise.

Wanderlust founder Miroslav Bukovsky on trumpet led the band with Brendan Clarke, bass, James Greening, trombone, Fabian Hevia, drums, John Mackey, saxophone, Jeremy Sawkins, guitar and Alister Spence, piano.

Wanderlust takes the audience on musical journeys through complex sounds mixing world rhythms and jazz improvisation. But at the heart of this fusion is the sound of jazz. Original compositions from over three decades filled this concert.

With four albums and an ARIA award to their name, Wanderlust have proven that Australian jazz stands out in the world.

Not having played together for two years doesn’t seem to have changed the quality of their sound. The band opened with a chromatic, wandering solo piano track that grew more intense as bass and drums expanded the melody. Shortly after, the horns came in, which helped make this upbeat and catchy composition grow. The trombone slid in and created an electric up and down arrangement.

Bukovsky on his trumpet brought out a glorious sultry sound complementing the trombone. Soon, Mackey on sax added so much color with his fast and slow playing. It was a powerful opening piece where Mackey blew everyone away. But it wasn’t over yet. It continued as Clarke on bass laid down her sound with an elegantly technical range of deep notes before the end.

Opening with a drum solo for the second track, this upbeat sound became more rhythmic as the bass joined in. Sawkings on electric guitar, which plays with his left hand, transformed the melody into a powerful experience. Tracks were swapped as each instrument had its expressive say before the piece found its way home.

It is a unique form of music where an instrument may direct and take sound in one direction or another, while under the rhythm section it may or may not maintain a straight path. Lead can completely change the color of music. It’s fascinating.

The tunes went from very funky with the track “Mambo Gumbo” to a slow love song called “Twilight Rain”. A work by Duke Ellington called “Wanderlust” brought back his delicious sound, with many additions. The staging of suspended metal shapes and the changing colors of the lighting and fog on stage added depth to the diverse music.

Greening on the trombone is the joker of the group. He was constantly dancing around the players, laughing and joking with them. Its performance when using a plastic mute was extraordinary. The limitless sounds he created impressed this reviewer.

Wanderlust is a group of quality musicians, each with a unique voice and style. They complement and blend perfectly in any mood. Canberra is fortunate to have four of them lecturing here at the ANU School of Music.

It was a 100 minute concert of contrasts, colors and control, where seven musicians sounded awesome.

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