October 2011

Arts & Letters

Jazz masterpiece

By John Clare
Ten Part Invention - ‘Unidentified Spaces’, 2001

Ten Part Invention is a Sydney band formed more than 20 years ago to perform Australian jazz music. It still has a solid, often ecstatic, following. This album has a wealth of writing from two band members who are among our greatest composers: Sandy Evans and Miroslav Bukovsky. Evans is represented by the title work, a suite whose four sections range across a wide spectrum, from bursting rhythmic permutations to static limpidity. Bukovsky’s ‘Folk Song’ is a vast expansion of the possibilities of a Romanian melody. It billows out in high, transparent and eerily oscillating harmonies, and coalesces in hard, driving sections of great intensity. Here alto saxophonist Bernie McGann and double bassist Steve Elphick produce some of their greatest improvised statements.

Ensembles such as this (ten pieces in this case) have made some of my favourite jazz. Allan Browne, Stu Hunter, Sam Keevers and Paul Grabowsky have also recorded outstanding examples, where the writing creates architecture and atmosphere – a cityscape if you like – which is populated by some of our most distinctive and brilliant solo voices. Evans and Bukovsky are amongst those in Ten Part: likewise trombonist James Greening, trumpeter Warwick Alder, baritone saxophonist Bob Bertles and drummer and founder John Pochée. The towering figure on the day is Bernie McGann, whose fire and melodic beauty are marvellously showcased.

—John Clare

John Clare
John Clare is a journalist, reviewer and the author of Bodgie Dada, a history of Australian jazz.

The members of Ten Part Invention, founded by John Pochée (third from right).
Cover: October 2011

October 2011

From the front page

Royal commission omission

Fingers are pointing everywhere but at the policy error

Image of Peter Dutton

South African farmers: we will decide

Australia, refugees and the politics of fear

Image from ‘The Americans’

‘The Americans’, the Russians and the perils of parallels

Why sometimes it’s better to approach art on its own terms

Image of Hugh Grant in ‘Maurice’

Merchant Ivory connects gilded surfaces with emotional depth

Restraint belies profundity in ‘Maurice’, ‘Howards End’ and more


In This Issue

Scene from 'The Theft of Sita'. Image courtesy of Melbourne Festival.

Music theatre masterpiece

An Australian–Indonesian production - ‘The Theft of Sita’, 2000

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Robert Helpmann & Anna Pavlova

Theatre masterpiece

Tom Wright & Benedict Andrews - ‘The War of the Roses’, 2009

The incendiary Meow Meow, 2011. © Magnus Hastings

Queen of the night

Meeting Meow Meow


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More in Masterpieces

Poetry masterpiece

Jennifer Maiden - ‘Friendly Fire’, 2005

© Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images

Design masterpiece

Marc Newson - ‘Qantas A380 Economy Seat’, 2008

Fiction masterpiece

JM Coetzee - ‘Summertime’, 2009

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Architecture masterpiece

Lindsay & Kerry Clare - ‘Gallery of Modern Art’, Queensland, 2006


Read on

Image of Peter Dutton

South African farmers: we will decide

Australia, refugees and the politics of fear

Image from ‘The Americans’

‘The Americans’, the Russians and the perils of parallels

Why sometimes it’s better to approach art on its own terms

Image of Hugh Grant in ‘Maurice’

Merchant Ivory connects gilded surfaces with emotional depth

Restraint belies profundity in ‘Maurice’, ‘Howards End’ and more

Image of Emily Blunt in ‘A Quiet Place’

‘A Quiet Place’, where silence means survival

John Krasinski’s latest film summons terror from the everyday


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