DAVE PANICHI SEPTET
Gleniffer Brae Auditorium
For Australian jazz, these are the best of times and the worst of times.
The new generation of musicians is the best we have ever had, says Dave Panichi, but opportunities to perform are few and far between.
Panichi is well-qualified to pass judgment. He is a world-class jazz trombonist and widely considered Australia's leading big band composer.
A professional musician since 1975, he moved to New York in 1981 and stayed there for close to 20 years, gaining fame in more ways than one as lead trombone in the Buddy Rich Big Band before playing with jazz legends including Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, and Blood Sweat & Tears.
Panichi returned to Sydney in 2000 re-immersing himself in the local scene where he performs with a number of bands including the Dave Panichi Septet.
He also teaches trombone at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he is also studying for a doctorate in jazz composition.
"The level of players is the highest it has ever been in my lifetime," Panichi says.
"There are more elite level improvisers and we have got rhythm sections that can play together as a unit for the first time. They can take care of their role and really challenge the soloists and engage them in a pretty vigorous conversation musically.
"That said, the scene is in dire shape. I did my masters thesis on live music regulation in NSW and the bottom line is hardly anybody is a full-time player any more.
"It's kind of bittersweet because we have so many good players and far fewer opportunities for them to practise their craft."
Music fans can see some of those up-and-coming players perform alongside Panichi at the Conservatorium on Friday.
"It's a three-generation band - I'm 54, [trumpeter] Phil Slater and [pianist] Matt McMahon are around late-30s or 40ish, and then we've got some cats in their 20s," Panichi says.
"It's kind of nice that you can go in to spiritual battle, or pursue the thing you do at a high level, with people of different ages who bring a different aesthetic and outlook to the thing. I kind of enjoy it.
"We've got some amazingly talented youngsters and they bring a certain energy that I like."
The septet plays contemporary acoustic jazz, performing original compositions.
"Listeners can expect three things from any gig of mine, which is great melodies, grooves and solos," Panichi says.