#37 CJC - Callum Passells' Flightless Birds, Backbeat

25 April 2018


I've been meaning to get to Creative Jazz Club for some time, but until this year Wednesday was my singing night.

Callum Passells is a quietly and clearly talented alto sax player who I've seen recently with Blackbird Ensemble and Aldous Harding. This is his own vehicle, a classic jazz quartet with Ben Sinclair on tenor sax, Tom Dennison on bass and Adam Tobeck on drums.


This week's CJC venue is Backbeat, upstairs on K'Rd above the Rock Shop. There's a vintage jukebox in the corner that looks well-loved. Framed and autographed electric guitars line the walls - in the corner where I'm standing I can see the autographs of Chrissie Hynde, Eric Burdon, Art Garfunkel and Audioslave; elsewhere there's Mark Knopfler and Joe Jackson among many others. Mick, the owner, has one of the largest memorabilia collections in Australia. He picks out copies of guitars that musicians use and gets them autographed when they're touring NZ.

The place is packed, and Backbeat is small, no space for a green room, the band just hang out at the end of the set. The age range here is striking, huge mix of different ages, perhaps speaks of Auckland as a place where all sorts of styles will get a following.

CJC is an aficionado's hangout. I'm not an aficionado, but I'm enjoying the switch to a style altogether different from the gigs I've been going to. What little I understand is that these guys play bebop originals, which I love for the way with all the improv, you just can't quite predict which way it's going to run, there's a chase and hide feel where something will pop out to surprise you.

Callum, to his credit, explains for people like me what's going on. It's a contrefact, taking an established seven chord progression and putting a new melody over the top. And all four are so on top of their game they totally pull it off. It's a cool night out, even for someone who knows eff all about jazz.