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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 7. 1962.

V.U.W. Jazz Club — Tasteful but Unoriginal Concert

V.U.W. Jazz Club

Tasteful but Unoriginal Concert

Artistically lit and charmingly compered by 2ZB's Bas Tubert, the Jazz Club's concert was best summed up by the adjective "tasteful."

The ensembles were well-rehearsed and there was little rambling, but one began to wish for some of the old bumptiousness that characterised the earlier concerts. The opening quintet presented some familiar faces. Gary Gervin blew a refined alto and Dave Fraser supported well, but it was up to Geoff Murphy, in spite of his technical limitations, to rouse the soloing out of a rut with some thoughtful trumpet.

Tommy Tamati was a humorous and strongly rhythmic bassist, and showed some playful inventiveness in his work with the Dave Fraser trio. Dave Lawrence rather unfortunately fell away from the beat several times, but helped to pull the soloing together quite ably.


Three piano-bass-drums trios were about two too many; all four of the evening's pianists seemed to be touched by the long arms (left and right) of Mr Brubeck, although Dave Fraser was the least obvious.

Nicky Smith tends to depend on a few stock gimmicks; the jamming right hand got on my nerves after a while.

The Giants of Jazz—self-styled—provided some honest Dixie of the mouldy fig variety. Incidentally, I wish people would stop trying to pigeonhole jazz in fine-sounding categories. The use of the rather spurious term "Mainstream", strikes me as both pretentious and inaccurate, especially to describe this sort of modified Acker Bilk.

Polished Quintet

The real and pleasant surprise of the evening was the last group: a polished quintet headed by Noel Evans on bass. The versatile Bruce Johnson blew baritone, clarinet and flute with equal precision and imagination — which excused some obvious neo-Parkerisms.

Gary Kennington was on nodding terms with Miles Davis, but avoided name-dropping, and the rhythm section of Allan Henderson (piano), Noel Davis (bass) and Terry Crayford (drums) drove the group along forcefully. Johnson's clarinet showed its more manly qualities—a lesson to the effete Giuffre school.

The two biggest faults of Varsity jazz right now are a lack of bite and a tendency to derivative playing. Nothing sounds worse in concert than obvious parodies of big-name jazz artists without the genius that underlies their more obvious mannerisms. No one minds if Varsity music is unpolished, but it is hard to forgive it for being unoriginal.