By Mae Anthony
The room was buzzing with a sophisticated excitement under the vermillion red lights at The Rosemount’s Four5Nine bar. Like a plumbeous cloud, Tuesday cast the pre-emptive shadow of mid-week Wednesday blues, weighing down on the slowly growing crowd. However, as soon as the Jazz began all of the tension and the worn, tired atmosphere dissipated and by the end of the first set, the room was filled with a tranquil and refreshed audience, ready to take on what was left of the show, and no doubt, the week.
Presented by Perth Jazz Society, Jazz Tuesdays at the Rosemount showcase different Jazz artists every week. Performing this week was up and coming Perth saxophonist Sean Little, who has recently returned to our shores after studying at New York University for two years with some of New York’s top Jazz musicians. Not only an exceptional player and musician, Little is an avid composer, experimenting with a gamut of influences from Cool Jazz to Funk-inspired rhythms.
The first set contained a number of Little’s compositions, many of which were written during his time in New York. The charming Quartet’s front-man gave succinct and relevant introductions to each work. An act of which made for a deeper connection to the diversity in the programming. A few interesting Coltrane tunes, and a re-harmonised arrangement of Empire by Of Monsters and Men; the two sets really delivered the goods.
Many of his original works contained lyrical sax melodies that created a place for him to bear some intense and complex playing. Many of these compositions explored contrasting ideas, and on a broad comparison of his works, they either focussed heavily on luscious melodies comprised of sorrowful tones, or on rhythmical hooks embellished throughout. Such a contrast in musical ideas made for an arousing listening experience and unexpected exoticisms in his melodies and soloing were a significant highlight. I was so hooked by the end of the first set that despite the thirty-minute break, I found myself sitting there ravished and ready for more.
The backing ensemble was of the finest calibre and supported Little throughout, all members possessing both exceptional technical mastery and humble musical reinforcement. The band always intuitively built in intensity in a way that was on par with every musical decision that Little was making. I was reminded of what is essentially the most appealing component of Jazz music, this ability to tune in with other people and listen and feel music intrinsically, and on a level that is not quite human – almost spiritual, and inherently natural. This is what good musicians of all genres do, and this was definitely achieved in the performance by ensemble members Harry Mitchell (keyboard), Karl Florisson (bass), and Alex Reid (drums). These players also helped to bring out the individual sound of Little’s compositions, particularly in showing the extensive percussive elements of his diverse creations.
I’m certain that the quality of musicianship endorsed by Perth Jazz Society only means that each Jazz Tuesday will be as thrilling as this performance by the Sean Little Quartet. Next week, April 19, is a double bill of Sydney Jazz pianist Steve Barry, who will be joined by one of Perth’s most renowned Jazz musicians, Jamie Oehlers, for a night of what will, no doubt, be an incredible musical experience. Also make sure to keep an eye out for Perth saxophonist, Sean Little, and all that his skill and creativity has to offer.