JAlogo

Free Newsletter Subscriptions

Search Jazz Australia


By A Web Design

Member login

ABC Jazz free banner

Natalie Dietz

PDFPrintE-mail

Review by Brad Syke, Performance for Jazzgroove May 2012

She's not long out of 'the con'. You might say she's an ex-con, I s'pose. The Sydney Conservatorium of Music, that is. Jazz studies. In fact, she graduated only last year. But, to hear her sing, you wouldn't know it. It's more than that though. She also writes and already has, not just a semblance of her own distinctive style or stamp, but a clear idea of where she's heading with it. She has, no doubt about it, a sense of herself and it manifests in a cohesive set of songs, delivered, largely, with wordless eloquence. Dietz vocalises and harmonises: it's a kind of reverse vocalese, not exactly scat as you might typically associate the term, in which, as against words being written to furnish an instrumental, the voice becomes another instrument, serving to create colours, textures and moods, in similar fashion to, say a piano, bass, drums, or sax. And, in many ways, isn't this the purest form of vocal expression, unimpeded by the definition and, by dint of it, limitations of lyrics? It has roots in the Brazilian and African traditions (just recently I've been writing about Angelique Kidjo, who has, among others, her very own language) and she wears these influences on her sleeve. You might be forgiven for thinking of Astrud Gilberto, not least in terms of the easy, warm, inviting timbre of her voice, or Clarice Assad, in terms of her adeptness in the style.

Speaking of piano, drums and sax, Dietz has quite a lineup behind her.

On piano, Gerard Masters (another Kiwi we've happily adopted and aren't liable to give back without a fight); a sensitive, empathic player if ever there was one. He seemed to instinctively tap into Dietz' songwriting sensibilities. His mastery seems ideally suited to the context and his forays into indie pop haven't dimmed his jazz instincts in the slightest.

On drums, the esteemed James Waples, the youngest gun from a whole family of precociously gifted muss, whose rep well-and-truly precedes him. No less a luminary than Mike Nock is but one who'll wax lyrically about him; he and other local legends, like Bernie McGann, Chris Abrahams, Marcello Maio and Farfinkel Pugowski, are also ever-keen to gig with him. Here, though, I thought his snare was too pervasive and, overall, there was a lack of delicacy, which surprised me. It might, of course, been as much, or more, a case of acoustics or mixing. I did have a sense, too, he was containing, even repressing, himself. Perhaps his sit-ins with Dietz are at an embryonic stage and he's still feeling it out. It's hard to know for sure.

Jonathan Brown, well-known for his work with Matt McMahon & The Cats, was on bass. Since The Cats venture into Latin territory, his is a sympathetic pedigree for Dietz stylings. The disposition of his playing fits hand-in-glove with Masters' piano, particularly.

Speaking of precocity, Carl Morgan's guitar-playing is something to behold. To my ear, he sounds like none except himself. And, believe me, that's something. He's living, very listenable proof that virtuosity can be understated; imploring 'listen to me', rather than screaming 'look at me!'. Perhaps that's why he's made it into the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra and, just a few years out of the ANU School of Music (where he was declared most outstanding graduate), has his own quintet and an album.

Composer, arranger, bandleader and educator, Sean Coffin, guested on tenor (The Chase & Watch Your Back) and he too knows the value of the adage 'less is more', with much of the distinction of his playing lying in the 'negative spaces'; the extended pauses. And he really knows how to build a solo. His tone is edgy and assertive, by turns jagged and mellifluous; his rhythmic sense impeccable, swinging like the coolest cat on the chandelier.

The Mood I'm In makes oblique reference to Monk's Mood, by way of its inquisitive, restless piano intro, but also in homage to Monk's legendary silkiness and the sheer jouissance that was ever-present in his music.(With Billie Holiday as muse, would one reflect anything less?) At the risk of condescension, it's nothing short of extraordinary that one as young as Dietz (then again, with youth, at least in linguistic colloquialism, comes tenderness) shows the perspicacity to holistically intuit Monk's intention.

New Day is gentle, contemplative and sounds like dawn, with elemental chords mapping out the structure of the tune, while drums and bass lend some motion and impetus, guitar cascading over the top, a trickling shower of fresh, cool air. As a whole, the piece fades up and out, like the sun itself. This song actually features lyrics, metaphorical and poetic: 'through dark clouds I can see an endless horizon'. Ah, the optimism and long lens of youth! The tune is fluid and blissful, threatening to convert us all to resigned, paeanistic hippiedom in a single listen. Which is probably no bad thing.

The Chase showcased a tight unity between Brown's bass & Masters' piano, with its riffing intro and smoothly cantering momentum. I've only ever heard it the once, on the night, but its lingering stylistic impression lies somewhere in the realm of Burt Bacharach's South American Getaway.

Lost for Words could hardly be more descriptive of her chosen compositional and vocal direction: a wordless, waltz-time ballad, with an ornamental piano intro.

Watch your Back proved to be something of a confessional, inspired, unfortunately, by a friend who disappointed. Here, Dietz and Coffin fused in a unison melody & harmonies more generally emblematic of her songwriting inclinations.

To close the set, Playing with Fire reiterated and underscored this penchant, albeit this time with voice and guitar, as well as a hefty contribution from Waples, whose finesse was awakened.

Natalie Dietz and this lineup show great promise. While there's plenty of depth and sophistication already in evidence, there's a palpable sense the best is yet to come. She wouldn't be the only performer to exhibit a certain shyness and reticence on stage, between songs, which can be quite disarmingly charming in its own way, but a little more confidence, whether feigned or authentic, is implicated, given that this is a young woman with much to say.

October 01, 2014

Rent free rehearsal spaces in Sydney

in News Articles New South Wales Posted by Joanne Kee
The City of Sydney has announced free rehearsal spaces for students. In their Live Music and Performance Action Plan they committed to reviewing community facilities to optimise use as rehearsal spaces, including for students and student groups. As a first step toward fulfilling this commitment the City have removed all fees and charges for student or student group rehearsals in 18 of their community venues. Starting immediately, any student or… Read more
September 30, 2014

Music Australia

in News Articles National News Posted by Joanne Kee
Music Australia is the new name for the Music Council of Australia, as the organisation celebrates it’s 21st birthday. Music Australia is a fifty member not-for profit national umbrella body representing all aspects of Australian music. It is the only organisation in the country devoted to music in its entirety with activities spanning education, community and the professional industry. Announcing the new identity Chairman Michael Smellie… Read more
September 29, 2014

European Jazz Network

in News Articles National News Posted by Joanne Kee
I have just had the pleasure of attending the European Jazz Network's conference, where I spoke on a panel with Paul Augustin (Penang Jazz Festival), Agus Setiawan (Warta Jazz in Indonesa) hosted by Ian Patterson (All About Jazz), who was the keynote speaker with a vast knowledge of Asian music. For the first time in the EJN history, this annual meeting has grown into a larger "European Jazz Conference" open also to non-member professionals,… Read more
September 26, 2014

Keith Jarrett & CharlieHaden, Last Dance

in CD Reviews New South Wales Posted by Joanne Kee
Last Dance Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden ECM/Fuse Rating: Four and a half stars This album is both appropriately titled and saddeningly timely, since pianist Keith Jarrett’s long-term partner, bassist Charlie Haden died in July this year aged 76. After regular performances in Jarrett’s quartet from 1967 to 1976 the two didn’t play together again until 2007 when they recorded two albums over four days at Jarrett’s home studio: Jasmine released in… Read more
September 21, 2014

Untranslatable CD review Matthew Sheens

in CD Reviews South Australia Posted by John McBeath
Rating: Four stars Since leaving Adelaide to study for a Masters at New England Conservatory, Boston, USA in 2009, having graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the Elder Conservatorium, pianist Mathew Sheens, predictably, has gone from strength to strength. Now, as a follow up to his acclaimed 2013 release Every Eight Seconds, this new album was also recorded in New York. The new collection Untranslatable, continues the pianist’s compositional… Read more
September 18, 2014

Surveying the benefits of live music in Australia

in News Articles National News Posted by Joanne Kee
"The social and economic benefits of Australia's live music industry are being put in the spotlight with a new survey across four states. The study will be a cost-benefit analysis of venue-based live music in Hobart, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. Lead researcher Dave Carter, from the University of Tasmania, said the aim was to examine how governments could help the sector and how live music impacts on people's lives. "One of the things we'd… Read more
September 11, 2014

Interview with Simon Milman on his Wanderlust collaboration

in Interviews Interviews Posted by Joanne Kee
Reina De La Pileta (Queen of The Swimming Pool)is a collaboration between Wanderlust and Simon Milman. It aims to transport listeners on a musical journey through Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Morocco and more, stopping for a horror film matinee en route. We asked Simon a few questions about this project. JK: How did this collaboration come about? SM: Miroslav and I met at the Canberra School of Music around 2003. We started working together in… Read more
September 07, 2014

When Music triumphs over censorship

in News Articles National News Posted by Joanne Kee
John Lennon once said, "Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it." But publishers aren't the only ones who limit people's access to music. 17 Powerful moments when music triumphed over censorship READ MORE From Music.mic by Jarod Lindzon Read more
September 01, 2014

Congratulations to Art Music Award winners

in News Articles National News Posted by Joanne Kee
Winners were announced across 11 national and seven State categories at this year’s Art Music Awards held for the first time in Melbourne at the Plaza Ballroom on Tuesday 26th August. Hosted by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre, the Art Music Awards celebrate the achievement and creative success of composers, performers and educators in the genres of contemporary art music, jazz and experimental music. This year’s diverse list of… Read more

The Jazz Australia Project is run by

places and spaces and is supported by Jazz Queensland

Founder supporters below

bottomLogos