Paddighton Church Concert review
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 23:37
Ross Daly And Friends
Reviewed by John Shand
March 19 2003

Paddington Uniting Church, March 13.

World music has always been an ineffectual and patronising term. Yet here it had a glimmer of new meaning as Ross Daly and Friends took us on a journey into a new world - even for those with some knowledge of eastern European and Middle Eastern music.

An oasis amid the wasteland of arid, bloodless sounds, it was lush with exotic instruments and time signatures, original and traditional compositions, precise ensembles and meaningful improvisations.

British-born Daly has lived in Greece for more than 20 years, not just absorbing its music and that of its neighbours but, such is his expertise, passing it on. One of his students on the Cretan lyra - a small, bowed instrument played on the knee - was Kelly Thomas, another European in a predominantly Australian band. Linsey Pollak (wind), Philip Griffin (strings) and Tunji Beier (percussion) added a diversity of textures to the lyras, with Daly playing assorted other strings.

They began with a piece of Iraqi classical music, Samai Al- Thaqil, not so much a political statement as a gentle reminder of the beauty in that apparently doomed land. The following trio of pieces included a heart-breaking lament of Daly's, Miroloi, the lyra capable of an extraordinarily dignified sadness comparable to the cello. This was some of the finest music heard in Sydney for years.

Daly improvised within close musical confines, but limitless imaginative ones. Here and elsewhere the lines had a serpentine quality, so they gradually wrapped themselves around you in a coil of grace and passion.

Thomas, looking like a Greek goddess, was a worthy foil to Daly. Pollak used an astonishing array of wind instruments of his own devising, from a snaking glass tube with what looked like a clarinet mouthpiece, to a plastic watering-can to which was affixed some hose and another mouthpiece. The resultant music was just as enthralling as the startling aesthetics.

Griffin was equally impressive on the lute-like laouto, oud and tambura, forming a rhythm section with the consistently engrossing and intricate hand-drumming of Beier. If the music never exploded with energy, it felt that it was held in check just as carefully as every other aspect of it was realised.

Those who missed this will have to settle for their splendid album, Kin Kin.


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