LIVE REVIEW: Jackie Orszacsky Music Lecture & Concert – The Basement, 10/05/16
The line snakes down the alley beside Circular Quay’s favourite basement, excited chatter and warmth abundant despite the cooler winter change.
But tonight isn’t your average gig for the bulk of its patrons. Tonight marks the inaugural celebration of a legacy.
Jackie Orszacsky is known to many as a musical pioneer from right here within our Sydney scene. Making Australia his home in 1974, Jackie began his Australian life by joining progressive rock-group Bakery, playing with them for almost 2 years before their disbandment. Since those beginnings he worked with the likes of Marcia Hines, The Whitlams, You Am I, and Grinspoon and formed a number of bands including Jump Back Jack, The Godmothers, The Orszaczky Budget Orchestra; and, the Jackie Orszaczky Band.
But tonight’s proceedings are far more personal than rattling off a bunch of recognisable names. Because as we learn from tonight, Jackie Orszaczky had time for all musicians.
Later claiming jokingly that “there are so many working musicians in here that if you threw a bomb you would kill half the industry,” it’s up to Brendan Gallagher to opens tonights gathering and it’s clear that everyone is just as moved to be here as he is. He reflects on Jackie in a fond but also very humourous manner, describing how Jackie was “the hub” and that he “engendered a sense of community”. He also discusses his own experiences in playing with Jackie, describing the two times he got to play with him as both “exhilarating and terrifying”.
But tonight as he says, is not only about celebrating Jackie’s legacy, but also to act as a “forum where people talk about the Australian music industry on their terms.”
Cue Lucky Oceans. Talented broadcaster and musician, most notably for his work on the pedal steel guitar, he takes the stage to begin a lecture that he hopes will “generate ideas”.
The room for the most part is hushed, aside from humourous interjections from prominent Australian trombonist James Greening. Oceans discusses the points of his lecture whilst almost always referring back to Jackie and his legendary ways. He talks of how Jackie just “went out and found individual musicians he liked” and then threw them together in the hopes of creating something new. He quotes Greening in saying that Jackie “has absolute clarity about music”. But most of all, he says, “one of the things people loved about Jackie was that you could go to a gig and have a beer and just talk with him about it.”
It’s this thought that leads Oceans into his 7-part thesis on musicianship. Points include ‘Knowledge’, ‘Imagination’, ‘Presence’, ‘Personality’, ‘Story Telling’ and, finally, ‘Soul’.
It’s a fascinating lecture, which is finalised by this point:
“Music not being authentic is a smoke screen for people that can’t experience the beauty and feel of it in the moment.”
It’s why, he concludes, that Jackie Orszaczky was such a powerful musician. No matter where he played, he would also consider himself as “another brick in the wall” and that he needed to give the same respect to each gig, or as Jackie put it “a gig is a gig.”
With a rousing applause from all in the room, it’s time now to clear away the chairs and prepare for the all star band. Many being alumni from Jackie’s numerous musical outfits, tonight’s stage is occupied by Tina Harrod and Darren Percival on vocal duties, Hamish Stuart on Drums, Dave Symes on Bass, Arne Hanna and Scott Leishman on Guitar, Clayton Doley on Organ, Stu Hunter on Keys, James Greening and Anthony Kable on Trombone and Matthew Ottigon on Tenor Sax. As if it couldn’t get any better, singing powerhouses Jade Macrae and Mahalia Barnes add backing vocals to Tina’s commanding presence.
They play well into the night, covering compositions of Jackie’s as well as a rather fantastic reworking of Living For The City by Stevie Wonder.
But for all of the striking musicianship and sentiments shared in the room, none sums up the vibe of tonight than a story shared by Darren Percival. Detailing how he ran into Jackie on the way into a pub in Newtown, he convinced Darren to join him. In the van on the way to their next destination, Darren says of the experience,
“I’ve never told anyone what Jackie and I talked about that night. But I will say if it wasn’t for that night I wouldn’t be here today.”
Eight years since Jackie Orszaczky’s passing, he still holds a strong hold on Australian music. Until next year.