Home General John Hoffman, Dave Spicer & SoYeong Min – Sunday 26 April 15

John Hoffman, Dave Spicer & SoYeong Min – Sunday 26 April 15

Sunday brunch at the Brisbane Jazz Club brought to an eager audience a unique trio of two of my favourite Brisbane jazz pianists, Dave Spicer & SoYeong Min, joining forces with John Hoffman on flugelhorn for an incredible program of jazz standards and original tunes. John needs little introduction to Australian jazz fans. As a horn player he has shared the stage with jazz legends such as Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, and has performed at the Brisbane Jazz Club on numerous occasions. Having heard all three players on several times, this reviewer knows she’s in for a real musical treat. The program begins with a duet, Just Friends. Dave and John have played many times together and as John quips they are “more than just friends…” Theirs is a friendship born in jazz, baring their musical souls, sharing melodic secrets and rhythmic stories, and we are lucky enough to see the result. Throughout the morning, Dave displays his exceptional accompaniment skills. Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most was particularly moving as Dave’s piano stylings wrapped the flugelhorn in a warm blanket of harmonic comfort that the audience simply wants to snuggle under. They play as one – undoubtedly from their many years playing together. Improvised endings become new masterpieces making this listener wish she’d recorded the show.  John’s comment upon conclusion, “I don’t often get to play with an orchestra”, is exactly right. How did Dave achieve such a complex accompaniment with only 2 hands? Speaking of talented hands – introduce, SoYeong Min. The second keyboard encounters some technical difficulties in the first half, so SoYeong just joins Dave on the grand piano. Jazz is all about improvisation after all! The band not only adapts well but thrives with this new arrangement. It is in this configuration that John introduces Jobim’s Girl from Ipanema – as a swing! Far from elevator music this song has us toe tapping and finger snapping.  Dave was enjoying it so much he elbows SoYeong off the piano during his solo!  A piano trading fours with itself is an interesting sight indeed. And now I hardly recognise this song, only the bridge gives it away. Have 88 keys ever been used so well? SoYeong also treats us to a couple of her original compositions which further showcase her versatility, and are perhaps the highlight of the program. Far from generic, SoYeong’s playing is varied in groove and style, with each solo taking the listener on a new musical journey. Her final song, Chance, was an innovative take on rhythm changes, both fun and complex and received a thunderous applause. At only 25, this pianist/composer astounded us. Another particularly intricate song was Richard Rodgers’, Emily. SoYeong’s right hand skilfully dances across the keys as Dave’s left hand plays a tender double bass taking this trio to a virtual quartet. The warmth of John’s flugelhorn is so enhanced by the warmth of these pianists. And knowing each of them personally their warm personalities are reflected in their playing and generosity to each other.  Who is this Emily and does she know the dedication she has received this morning through this song? Throughout the morning, John’s masterful horn playing, his exquisite phrasing, remarkable breath control and warmth of tone weave together a delightful program. It is clear he has enjoyed the morning as he sits back and watches each piano solo with a growing smile. Music and Brunch against the back drop of the gorgeous Brisbane river is surely a winning recipe for a Sunday morning, but add to it three extremely talented musicians willing to explore new instrumentation and creative arrangements, this reviewer left the club floating on air. Natalie DE JAGER