In an evening where both acts used modern technologies to
enhance and augment their performances the audience were
treated to some international boundary-pushing music for
some serious, entertaining and captivating listening. The artists
expand their compositions by capturing non-musical sounds.
The composers have bypassed traditional notes and
instruments and created music that is adding to and broadening the
jazz idiom. The contrast between the music and the location was
very pronounced as these innovative concerts were performed in
a spacious and very traditional church.

First up was an Italian duo performing their NuovoMondo
Symphonies Debora Petrina and Giovanni Mancuso have
described themselves as the protagonists of an imaginary,
ethnomusicological and pata-physical explorations in an
unknown world, where they can discover landscapes,
cities, and bizarre inhabitants. Debora plays keyboards, makes
vocalisations, sings in unknown languages, expressively uses
her body as an artistic vehicle, appends digital sound and plays
some added instruments. Giovanni plays piano, synthesizer and
controls some of the digital augmentations. This complex and richly
varied music is accompanied by a collage of 1930s silent films,
Super 8 home movies and expedition documentaries.

Debora’s singing ranges from incandescently beautiful melodies to
discordant but fascinating vocalisations, and piano and keyboards
have a similar diversity. The discrepancy is both engaging and
awesome. The accompanying incongruous films add to the diversity
and enchantment.

The second concert, Caroline Davis’ Alula, featured Caroline on
saxophone, Noah Garabedian on electric bass, and Eliza Salem on
drums. Caroline has said her aim is to provide creative reflection on
the injustices present in the justice and prison system of America. It
highlights the strength of those who have been, and those who
are still incarcerated.

The music of the trio is enhanced by digitised and looped feeds of
Caroline’s saxophone along with voices taken from interviews,
mediaand podcasts. Snippets included, “There are more guns in
this country (USA) than people,” and “My sisters in this criminal
justice system.” These snippets only created an impression of the
message she wanted to make. A gentle consciousness raising
earworm is better than an explicit didactic diatribe. It is even
better when it is overlaid on engaging and skilful jazz.

Some of cases of imprisonment she wishes to highlight are Jalil
Muntaqim, who was part of the Black Panther Party, Keith Lamar
who has spent 33 years on death row, and Joyce Ann Brown who
was wrongfullyimprisoned for 9 years. She performed “and yet it
moves” her song about the astronomer Galileo who was
imprisoned for heresy and refusing to recant, highlighting the
fact that injustice is nothing new.

Caroline Davis, Debora Petrina and Giovanni Mancuso,
performed at St Stephens Uniting Church, 197 Macquarie
Street, Sydney as part of the Sydney International Women’s
Jazz Festival, presented by SIMA (Sydney Improvised Music
Association). Debora Petrina and Giovanni Mancuso
performed with support from Italian Cultural Institute of
Sydney. The festival runs until 5th November and includes
a rich and diverse program and is highly recommended.