Pratten Park Bowling Club, April 10


Here’s an initiative to make one believe we can still operate as a community, rather than so many adversarial economic units. Pratten Park Bowling Club has commendably tossed out the pokies in favour of activities that, rather than tearing people apart, actually help bring them together. Each fortnight it hands the reins to the Multicultural Arts Collective, which this time presented what might be termed a jazz concert, did that not undersell the diversity encompassed by the Mirko Golub Quartet’s Balkan flavour and Ally’s Latin orientation, stretching from Cuba to Peru and Spain.

Gai Bryant. Photo supplied.

The brainchild of saxophonist Gai Bryant, Ally never quite lets your expectations settle. Spoken-word poetry from Brazilian-Australian Dai Moret inhabited the same universe as a Thelonious Monk composition reimagined with a Flamenco bulerias rhythm. The latter was Monk’s Dream, featuring a James Greening trombone solo in which each note – let alone each line – was an event in itself, having a voluptuousness that would probably be illegal in some countries, before a bristling dialogue between cajon player Juan Carlos Allende and drummer Giorgio Rojas.

Pianist Daniel Pliner’s restless solo on Unicorn Girls rocked between clamping the piano to the rhythm section and floating melodic clouds above it; staying inside the harmonic structure and making dissonant little sallies outside. Singer Melody Rivera was an unforced vocal presence, compounding the ability of Cuban music (like flamenco and tango) to completely intertwine elegance and drama.

Charles Mingus’s timeless masterpiece Goodbye Porkpie Hat was superbly reimagined through an Afro-Danzon prism, and Bryant remade Monk’s Well You Needn’t as Spheres that Don’t, combining spoken word, vocals, and a bubbly dialogue between her soprano and trombone, decorated with Allende’s bongoes and polished bass playing from Harry Birch, who, remarkably, was having his first gig with the band.

Also eminently engaging was the quartet led by pianist Mirko Golub, which drew on Balkan rhythms and melodies to create cruising, soft-focus jazz, featuring Golub’s equally lyrical and visceral solos in company with trumpeter Simon Ferenci, bassist Michael Walder and drummer Tyson Hilder.