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Jazzanova @ Alhambra Lounge (Bris, 25.01.07)

Author: Patricia Escalon
Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Entering the Alhambra Lounge to lose myself in the sounds of Jazzanova was like stepping into a parallel universe. Here, the bouncers were smart and courteous, the door person was stylish and gracious, and the décor was made for lounging.

Large glass Moroccan lamps hung from the ceiling, half of which was covered in speakers bordered with teak. Leather divans and deep burgundy or ebony leather armchairs added to the decadent mood.

The greatest surprise was the crowd. They trickled in, until every seat was taken and the dance floor was comfortably full. The spread of ages, dress styles and scenes was truly amazing. Bottled blondes in spaghetti strap pinafores rubbed shoulders with girls in singlets, Dogstar jumpsuits and Nelson Molloy frocks. Some of the supporting musicians mingled with the dancers, occasionally contributing to the set by jumping on stage with drumsticks and beating out a parallel rhythm on the bongos.

This was Jazzanova’s first gig ever in Brisbane. The famous German DJ outfit, consisting of Alexander Barck, Claas Brieler, Jürgen von Knoblauch, Roskow Kretschmann, Stefan Leisering and Axel Reinemer, had sent Alexander Barck to Australia as their flag bearer. Their heady mix of Latin and afro beats, with nu-jazz has made them into the cream of the chill-out and dance music remixers.

Barck’s mission was to provide the music for Berlin chanteuse Clara Hill on her tour of Australia promoting her album All I Can Provide. The eve of Australia Day saw them supported by local DJs Julien Love, Ravi, Shuffle, Mista Micha and Ari.

DJ Julien Love greeted the early birds with a mix of sax, piano and downtempo. DJ Ravi warmed up the crowd with Brazilian and Cuban beats, mixing the high energy beats of casino with live drums. He drew one third of his audience onto the dance floor with a bit of conga. The pace was relaxed but upbeat, laying out the ground for Jazzanova’s Alexander Barck to work his magic. The handover was almost seamless.

However, Barck stamped the set with his own signature as soon as the second track began. He moved straight into samba, mixed with electronic percussion and a live bongo accompaniment. The samba would morph into merengue, cumbia, then gradually to bossanova, as a prelude to Clara Hill.

As Hill took the stage, the mood went mellow. Her sweet soprano wound its way around the nu-jazz flowing out of Barck’s deck. The initial track gave a nod to Motown in the seventies, catchy and almost dancey. While she progressed through the set, the tempo slowed down. Her final song came too soon in the evening, incorporating a deep house beat to an acoustic arrangement that gradually permeated the Alhambra Lounge.

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