The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - John McBeath

Ny­ilipidgi Paul Grabowsky, Wil­fred Broth­ers & Monash Art En­sem­ble ABC Jazz The best way to lis­ten to this mu­sic is in a live per­for­mance, but op­por­tu­ni­ties for that are quite lim­ited. I was for­tu­nate to ex­pe­ri­ence the work at the re­cent Wan­garatta Jazz Fes­ti­val — where it re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion — and my opin­ion of it rose con­sid­er­ably. Pi­anist/ com­poser Paul Grabowsky be­gan work­ing with cer­e­mo­nial mu­si­cians from Ngukurr, on the Roper River in South East Arn­hem Land, in 2004. Ny­ilipidgi rep­re­sents an apex of achieve­ment where as­pects of con­tem­po­rary jazz are in­cor­po­rated into Aus­tralian tra­di­tional mu­sic and vice versa. Con­tri­bu­tions come from broth­ers Daniel Ngukurr Boy Wil­fred — vo­cals and clap­sticks (Bilma) and David Yip­ininy Wil­fred on did­jeridu (Yi­daki) — whose tra­di­tional vo­cals, in song and story, with mu­sic are united in quite bril­liant ways with jazz or­ches­tra­tions and so­los from mem­bers of the Monash Art En­sem­ble. In The First Dance clap­sticks and chant­ing trans­mute via a vi­o­lin and per­cus­sion pas­sage into big-band stac­cato chords and a soft con­ver­sa­tion that fades to a con­clu­sion. Grabowsky has over­come the chal­lenge of this achieve­ment with­out sac­ri­fic­ing as­pects of ei­ther genre. The cover notes are use­ful in ex­plain­ing: “Ny­ilipidgi does not at­tempt a su­per­fi­cial in­te­gra­tion of dif­fer­ing tra­di­tions ... that rel­e­gates mu­sic to the mere rep­re­sen­ta­tion of style.” What Grabowsky has achieved is an orig­i­nal jazz sym­phony of mon­u­men­tal pro­por­tions us­ing words, dances and songs (manikay) of the Wag­i­lak clan, amal­ga­mated with jazz in a mov­ing, orig­i­nal land­mark.

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