As part of the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival, the Sydney Women’s Jazz Collective played on numerous nights at Foundry 616, this post is in regards to the 7th of November performance that featured Ingrid Jensen (trumpet) and Christine Jensen (alto sax).
A saxophonist I know and am honoured to play with drinks coke (vanilla flavoured I think) before he plays his saxophone. I can hear the muscles tensing of saxophone players everywhere but trust me, he is one of the funkiest sax players I know. I mothered him about it but he just said, well it doesn’t really matter, it’s just a tool. However, he did also state that if he owned a gorgeous 25k sax that he would be very, extremely careful with it.
Although this is true, a musician’s instrument is just well, an instrument. Instruments break; (as all musicians will have the unfortunate trouble of trying to afford to fix), strings will snap off, sticks will snap in half and reeds will bust. However, with a backup reed and a supporting band, the true musician will know exactly where he is in the form and be able to get straight back into it. It’s weird to think, but musicians often have a Derek Redmond moment quite frequently, although not always so intense, physically painful or with such a big audience, it does happen.
A musician is in some sense a bit crazy, however instead of hearing voices in their head, they hear ideas; melodic leaps and steps, rhythmic patterns and a tone they hope to master. A great improviser will be able to sing their ideas without their instrument, and often sing them while they play like Keith Jarrett does. Unlike Jarret, a certain double bassist sings her ideas so softly I can almost hear the smooth but edgy tone of Eva Cassidy singing Stormy Mondays. Of course, I hear a double bass, but I am to attached to the tone of great jazz singers that I inevitably draw similarities and comparisons. The bassist Hannah James plays with such poise and alike saxophonist Sandy Evans she makes you feel proud to be a musician*. She gives space to her improvisations and when she’s made her statement with a musical idea, the audience sure as hell know she’s done and hear her our and clear. Sandy opens up all her solos with such confidence and grit, she can be heard all the way down at venue 505 by a smiling Cameron Undy. In one of the last pieces, she has such control and articulation over her upper register you can almost hear her whispering words of encouragement to the amateur musician. In another piece James and trombonist Alex Silver take turns swapping lines that bend pitches and you can tell by the interaction that it’s all by ear, well of course, but even when bending pitch one should control what note they start on and what one they’d like to finish on to compliment the harmony. The drummer looked and sounded so bada$$, the horns were so tight they even breathed in time and in unison you honestly would have thought they all did yoga together, and the guitar made such a gorgeous echoing ambience that made you feel like Bella Swan in that meadow.**
The set was amazing and it gave me my own aspirations to hopefully play at the Sydney International Women’s Jazz festival one day, maybe even next year if I work hard enough. But for now, its an honour to hear such amazing artists and I hope I continue to hear them as they grow and experiment through their musical development.
Big thank you to Hannah James for making me feel like Kate Middleton by putting my name on the door.
*Note “musician” and not “female musician”, making equality happen people.
**Sorry I had a twilight phase once upon a time.