Camelot Lounge, October 27


This is how cultural treasures survive: because people care enough to ensure they do. A book of compositions by the late Australian music pioneer Kim Sanders was exactly the sort of project the Australia Council should be supporting, rather than propping up bureaucracy-obese companies with low artistic yields. The launch of Kim Sanders’ Music (collated by Linda Dawson and Mara Kiek) saw 12 exceptional musicians associated with the composer reconvene to dance back through a brief history of his work.

Kim Sanders playing the gaida. Photos supplied.

Sanders, a pivotal local improviser who played a vast array of reed instruments, was besotted with the music of Bulgaria, Turkey, Senegal and Indonesia. Neither a cherry-picker nor a dilettante, he travelled extensively, immersed himself in these musical cultures, and learned by playing with the locals. But however much Sanders’ compositions nestled within specific idioms, they always sounded distinctively his own. With a fondness for odd time-signatures (such as 11/8, 13/8 and even 17/8), he had a unique gift for investing striking melodies with rhythmic bounce.

Sandy Evans (saxophones) and Llew Kiek (guitars, bouzouki, baglama) co-led an ensemble capable of illuminating the huge diversity of Sanders’ music. There was the extraordinary floating sensation generated by Ivailo Karamanliev’s kaval (end-blown flute) on Impossible Dreams of Sonia (in 7/8), and the deeply mysterious 5/4 groove of Istanbul Bluesu, with its inherent sense of journeying, and Evans very gradually building a solo until she unleashed the full magnificence of her tenor saxophone sound.

Storming through the wilder pieces was the horn section of trombonist and trumpeter James Greening, trumpeter Sam Golding, alto saxophonist Stuart Vandegraaff (who played Sanders’ ney on one piece,) and baritone saxophonist Boyd (who immeasurably fattened the ostinatos). Joining Kiek in achieving combustion were bassist Mark Szeto and percussionists Peter Kennard, Chris Fields and Ron Reeves, while Vasili Haralambous rounded out the celebration playing the instrument most indelibly associated with Sanders’ senses of beauty and humour, the gaida (Balkan bagpipe). If the man himself wasn’t in the room, his spirit certainly was. The legacy lives on.