It was the first WJC (Wellington Jazz Cooperative) event for me this year, and at the new venue, the Moon1 bar, in Newtown: a spacious place with a real stage changes the game.

Tonight’s guests were from Australia: Lachy Hamilton on saxophone, Patrick Danao on drums, and Harry Morrison on double bass.

These cats, young though they be, have been playing together for over a decade now. That experience was in full view that night: flawless interplay, bouncing solos, a single smart and cheeky music brain with three pairs of hands and a few kicking legs.

Both sets were compiled from a mix of standards and Lachy’s original tunes.

Classical standards were performed primly, but in such a fresh manner that there was not a moment in which you might think “Ah, Duke Ellington, again”.

But the originals really stood out for me. They included stories from the road, memories of various encounters, and emotions of all kinds. They were thought-provoking, fluid, fresh. Every tune a perfectly plotted story with spectacular dynamic, breath-taking drama, and welcome relief.

Like a white sheet of photographic paper in a darkroom, each tune developed slowly, emerging as an engaging image of feelings and sonics.

If you are reading this and wishing you hadn’t missed it, then good news. Lachy released an album not long ago. You can enjoy it here.

This gig was in the works for over three years. But we all know whom to blame for delay. (Hint: COVID). Now, let’s not forget whom to thank: Mark Locket and the Wellington Jazz Cooperative for bringing top talent into town for our ears and eyes to enjoy. Every second Thursday Mark turns a nice suburban bar into a cool jazz club.

There is plenty of space, and it makes it a perfect night out with friends: drinks, pizza, and live high-quality entertainment. The tickets are always available at the door. So grab your mates and have some well-deserved fun.

By Charlie Queen