The Alex Stuart Quintet (Alex Stuart guitar and compositions; Julien Wilson sax; Miroslav Bukovsky trumpet; Jonathan Zwartz double-bass; and Tim Firth drums) played for us at the Windsong Pavilion on 26 October 2015. It was a sell out performance. Again, a highly appreciative audience responded warmly to the performance of this band of great musicians in this acoustically lively and intimate venue.
The ABC’s Bill Brown filmed the concert and afterwards interviewed Alex about his music (see the ABC website here). That interview provides a good starting point for an account of the event.
As Bill reports, in each of his compositions Alex ‘tells a story that can’t be told in words’. He does so by drawing on not only the jazz tradition, but also on the musical vocabularies of a wide range of other musical traditions such as African, Indian, Latin American and rock and funk music, selecting what best conveys the meaning and emotion of the particular composition and blurring the lines between the genres. The outcome, Bill notes, is Alex’s identifiable rhythmic style – one that ‘provides platforms for improvisation’.
Here are some of the ‘stories’ that we heard at the Quintet’s October concert. The band started with a piece that conveyed the wonder and beauty of snow falling onto the crests of waves during a winter surfing experience in France (‘Snow Falling on the Crests of the Waves’). Another tune was sparked by a dream involving a pursuit through several musical cultures by a sinister ‘Little Black Lion’. Then there was a song dedicated to two friends who had been through a sequence of intense pain followed by joy (‘Pour Vous’). Another was a remembering of youthful times spent surfing and fishing on the far south coast (‘Wapengo, Cuttagee’). And the title piece was inspired by Alex’s discovery of the delights of living in his culturally diverse new neighbourhood in Paris (‘Place to Be’).