Camelot Lounge, August 29
Here was the perfect antidote to the election campaign. Where our democracy has descended to banal veneers Eddie Bronson’s music was all substance and no surface. Virtually every note was heartfelt, charged with meaning, amusing or all three.
Bronson joins Merv Acheson and Mark Simmonds as one of the great tenor saxophonists of Australian jazz history. Several years ago he began writing romantic songs that drew on his Russian heritage of folk music, classical music, klezmer and gypsy music and his love of French chanson. He was always an accordionist as well as a saxophonist, and now be began singing his songs. Two glorious albums ensued: Romance and Intimate.
When I say there is no surface to his music, I mean all aspects of it, including the presentation. Even the fact that he was often reading the lyrics – black mark in most concert contexts – just added to the guilelessness of the whole affair. He stripped away all the artifice of performance, presentation, song-writing, singing and playing, so that what you were left with was strikingly real, simple, warm and joyous.
Bronson’s still-thick Russian accent compounded the impact. It was almost too good to be true as his baritone voice gelatinously crooned his oddly-innocent offer of a one-night stand on Mon Amie, or delivered his deliciously non-politically-correct paean to smoking on Cigaretta (“Only you I can rely on…”).
His tenor saxophone, absent on the Intimate album, exploded across many of the songs here: a sound to melt chocolate, hearts or steel with equal ease. River-wide and vibrato-laden, it stormed across Musika and Dark Eyes – the latter a spirited encore that featured Yaron Hallis as guest singer.
Bronson had another guest in Daniel Weltlinger and his swooning violin, joining the gifted, accomplished and deft band of Marcello Maio (piano), Anatoli Torjinski (cello), John Maddox (bass) and Jess Ciampa (drums). After this I might just survive the last week of the campaign.