The Vampires’ Zephyrs Jazz performance confirmed the judgement of Lloyd Swanton (The Necks) that The Vampires are ‘an absolute must-have for festivals anywhere in the world’. We were also impressed by the band’s ability to attract an enthusiastic contingent of young people to our concert in the Windsong Pavilion.
The band featured: Jeremy Rose on saxophone and Nick Garbett on trumpet and responsible for the compositions; veteran Jonathan Zwartz on double bass, filling in for Alex Boneham; and Alex Masso on drums/percussion. From their opening number, Nick Garbett’s ‘Tiro’ (an Italian word that means here ‘to play with plenty of drive’) to their concluding piece ‘Mothers Dance’, Jeremy’s New Orleans blues style homage to his mother) the band presented a wonderful combination of virtuosic and uncannily tight duo sax playing in the front line and sustained close dialogue with the drums and double bass rhythm section.
Jeremy and Nick were already familiar to some in the audience through their periodic appearances by another of their bands, the highly popular reggae group The Strides, at the nearby Murrah Hall.
The Vampires’ music is a highly successful and unique integration of an eclectic mix of musical traditions, such as jazz, old-school reggae, romantic Afro-Peruvian, danceable Afro-Cuban, exotic Balkan and funk-laden Afrobeat. The jazz component draws, in turn, on composers and players from Ornette Coleman to Dave Douglas. At our concert they played pieces from across their many albums, together with some new ones, and they gave it all they had. Their skill, soul and commitment were rewarded by a strong audience response, including an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end.