Saturday, March 16, 2019

Arthur Street Loft Orchestra - Blair Latham and Anton Wuts

This week the Arthur Street Loft Orchestra was a 10-piece group comprised of five reeds, two brass, guitar, bass and drums playing compositions by Blair Latham and Anton Wuts. I was really keen to get along as I hadn’t heard Blair live for quite some time (years), and I can’t recall hearing Anton since he moved out of Wellington (15 years ago!).

I always found their music to be have plenty of energy with a quirky edge. And not much had changed in that regard. The evening had an interesting contrast between buoyancy and darkness. Tunes often moved in unexpected ways, sometimes the changes were abrupt, other times smooth. Blair’s “Message in a Bottle” featured a great soprano solo from Jasmine Lovell-Smith, who was wonderfully melodic and mysterious (that intriguing combination of light and dark). My only real complaint is that I would have enjoyed both Anton and Blair giving themselves a bit more room to stretch out.

The inspiration for some of the tunes hit home. The increased celebration of military is something I too had noticed on my return home. However, Blair's “Unknown “Warrior”, chose to celebrate the unknown musical warriors he heard while in Mexico. The “Daily Grind” is a familiar concept to many, and increasingly why I want to find an outlet for my music. And “Money Isn’t Everything” is something I can get behind.

New Zealand Jazz
This next paragraph is in no way directed at the music written by Anton and Blair - just a comment on the series in general. Last week while chatting to Jeff Henderson about the series, I mentioned the under-rehearsed nature of the group and he has a great suggestion - if you’re composing knowing that there will be minimal rehearsal time, it should inform your writing. Wise words.

I'd like to see the Arthur Street Loft Orchestra record a selection of tracks from the various composers. The series is a welcome addition to the scene and it would be a shame not to see the efforts of those involved documented. Or how about a featured spot at the Wellington Jazz Festival? The latter will have to wait until 2020 now as the headliners have been announced - and based on that, I’ll likely be checking out the lower profile local groups - I’m looking forward to seeing the full program.

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