Like most musical genres today, jazz is merely an umbrella term that comprises many off shoot styles. And we’re certainly all the better for it. Showing up to the Melbourne International Jazz Festival is like feasting on a smorgasbord of acts: you can get traditional fare, some peppered with only hints of jazz, and everything in between.
Hiatus Kaiyote, the support act for Thundercat, is my new musical crush. With a thumping bass line and funky synth beats, I couldn’t not move my body to the sounds of their music. So much so the usher had a full-time job keeping me from occluding the aisle. Nai Palm, the lead singer, has a soulful crackle in her voice somewhat reminiscent of Amy Winehouse, but perhaps that’s not giving her the credit she deserves. She really is, along with her band, a unique talent that Australia should be proud of and get on board with NOW.
There’s no doubt Thundercat is a consummate musician and mesmerising front man who his audience loves. I was less enamoured by his music but not because he didn’t deliver, his music just didn’t connect with me at the same level as the support act. Stephen ‘Thundercat’ Bruner has been described as a ‘mutant jazz cat’ and I certainly can’t disagree. He bends jazz rhythms with composite 70s keys and ethereal vocals to bring a really interesting blend of jazz and funk. Perhaps his instrumental pieces might have been better suited to a smaller venue, I found them a little insular, but his more upbeat numbers, which I enjoyed immensely, were perfect for the Forum.
All in all, fans that were privy to seeing Thundercat plus Hiatus Kaiyote at the Forum on Friday night would not have been disappointed by the high energy and level of talent on stage on the night.