by Gary Eldershaw – JMI Live Bar Manager
As the stage lights at JMI Live fade for the last time in 2016, it seems like the most opportune time to reflect on the year of live music that Brisbane has had on offer under our very own roof. We’ve had the pleasure of hosting almost 100 shows involving musicians from Brisbane to Sydney, from Japan to New York, and as far as Germany. With artists travelling such distances and finding their home here at JMI Live, coupled with the support from local musicians and punters alike, it’s no wonder that so many events in Brisbane are starting to flourish.
This year has marked some special events for many people in the community, be it celebrations of life, beginnings and ends of tour cycles, releasing and recording of new records – you name it, it’s all been welcomed into JMI Live. We strive to grow, understand, and promote jazz music in Brisbane and try to better understand and appreciate how our small pocket of music fits in with the rest of the music happening around the world.
We’ve had performances from guests like Vincent Gardner and Reggie Thomas from the USA as part of the JMI and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s ‘Essentially Ellington’ program. Towards the end of the year we had Shannon Barnett bring her quartet from Germany while they were performing as part of the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.
Kristin Berardi, Sean Foran, Rafael Karlen, Travis Jenkins, Andrew Garton and loads more friends all released new albums. Chris Bancroft completed the performance aspect of his thesis, with Elly Hoyt coming through after returning from New Orleans.
As part of the Brisbane International Jazz Festival we had the pleasure of welcoming Quentin Angus with Ari Hoenig and Sam Anning from the USA, alongside local artists such as Sharny Russell, Wil Sargisson, Rhythm Society Dance Orchestra, RedBop, Charlotte Mclean, and Kayleigh Pincott.
A large handful of interstate groups came through our doors like the SURFACE Project with Diego Villalta, Kristin Berardi with her Sydney band while they toured the east coast, Brendan Clarke and Ben Hauptmann, Michael Griffin, and from Melbourne we were visited by James Sherlock and Hetty Kate.
In short, we have had a whirlwind of a year with almost too many names to mention so here’s a quick top 5 instead:
Julien Wilson + Zac Hurren:
This was a very special night for a lot of people: A tribute to the late Dave Ades – an inspiration to countless musicians and people from all around the country. The passion and dedication that was put into this night (showcasing Ades’ own music) was a testament to his adventurous musicality.
The Brookes Street Grind:
This gig was a whole lot of fun for a whole lot of reasons, namely seeing these students (whilst in the midst of exams might I add) deliver an unbelievably killer performance with musical maturity far beyond their years. Having heard them rehearse time and time again for this gig, seeing them all suddenly thrust into the limelight gave a whole new swing to their sound. I distinctly remember the day after this gig receiving a notification from JMI’s YouTube channel saying there had been a copyright infringement (in this case: having copyrighted music on the video). To be clear, there were no backing tracks or anything of the ilk – this group put together a tribute to Horace Silver and had apparently played a track so similarly to the recordings that YouTube thought it was the original. Talk about being true to a sound!
Carly Minjoy Trio:
Another group made up of (at the time) current students and alumni – Carly’s incredibly understated playing sensibilities coupled with Seb Dickerson’s (drums) dynamic control, and Elliott Parker’s (bass) consideration of their subtlety made this one of the most quiet and engaging shows I experienced. With a classic selection of tunes and this sensibility, you can understand why the show was so enjoyable.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the faculty/staff band gigs as these are the people teaching music in Brisbane and further abroad, and it’s so great hearing them applying all the skills they deliver in classrooms each day outside of the classroom and into a real-world setting. All of the faculty are great people and players in their own right, it’s always fun having them all together on stage.
I would like to say this was a once in a lifetime experience, but we had the privilege of two nights back to back of absolutely world-class music in Brisbane – a big thanks to the efforts of Brendan Clarke. With two sold out night, it wasn’t hard to gauge the level of musicianship that was going to be displayed over both nights, and the whole band delivered in spades. Both nights ended with utterly staggered audience members and relentless praise – musicians around town are still attempting to recreate the feelings from those nights.