If someone asked me about the music of the 20s, I instantly think of the beginnings of what we now know as jazz, including the first formations of Big Bands. It is terrifying to think in only a handful of years, this fantastic, energetic dance music will be a century old! But is this sensational, large jazz ensemble style still relevant in the 21st century, where DJs and pop superstars dominate the music charts?
The Daryl McKenzie Jazz Orchestra proved that Big Bands are still accessible and popular for young and old, at their monthly concert at The Apartment last Monday. The group, led by trombonist and composer Daryl McKenzie, includes many of Melbourne's greatest musicians, and their sound is always incredible to witness.
This is only the third time I've seen the band, but ever since dragging my brother along to their performance in March this year (where the band debuted my Big Band chart 'The Pursuit'), he has eagerly anticipated the next opportunity to revisit the band. There is something charming and incredibly mesmerising about watching these experienced performers, both as a musician and as a general patron. And what a show you get, for such reasonable prices! The Apartment and DMJO should expect to see my face again soon!
Daryl keeps each performance fresh and exciting with routine "Surprise Charts", where he hands out an unrehearsed chart to the ensemble moments before performing it, showing off the band's impeccable sight-reading capacity and ability to listen to each other to perform the piece tightly and professionally. Daryl also showcases local youth talent, by inviting selected high-school students to perform with the band for one number, and, as always, these students are phenomenal performers and demonstrate great promise for Melbourne's Big Band and Jazz future.
The audience on Monday was also fortunate enough to witness Nina Ferro join the band for some vocal numbers. The eliminated contestant from The Voice Australia is experienced, talented and has worked in many countries with many famed musicians, including the distinguished Tony Bennett. Nina sure did give a fantastic performance, almost acting as a middle-finger salute to the reality TV show that eliminated her rather early on in the competition. With exciting arrangements of Lionel Richie's "Hello" and the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love", Nina earned a raucous applause from the audience after each tune.
So, regardless of whether you're a passionate jazz lover or merely just looking for a good night out, head on down to The Apartment on the last Monday of each month to watch The Daryl McKenzie Jazz Orchestra perform! They're such a talented bunch of musicians and prove that Big Bands are hanging round beyond 2020!
Tickets - $15 Adult, $10 Concession, or Book for Dinner ($50 for 2 courses, $60 for 3)
Jared has written articles for the British Bandsman, as well as local community radio stations 3MBS and Radio Monash.