cargoART’s Gig Review: The Paris Cat Jazz Club, Melbourne (1 July 2015)

Sharni White of the cargoART Magazine has written a glowing review of our show at Paris Cat on 1 July 2015: “The ishs/Allen Project has the ability to bring new listeners into the world of jazz and unite them with veteran lovers.”

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There is something very special happening in the Australian jazz scene at the moment and it’s called the ishs/Allen Project. On a freezing Wednesday night, the last thing you expect is a packed out Melbourne CBD jazz club, but that is exactly what happened. The ishs/Allen Project’s show was standing room only with all seated tickets sold out prior to the night. The vibe of the room was opposite to that of the dreary night outside. The wine was flowing, the conversation babbling and the excitement rising as it hit performance time.

Opening with A Place in the World the ishs/Allen Project showed the audience that they intended to give the patrons exactly what they hoped for – a contemporary jazz night to be remembered. The passion of these musicians is evident in the way they put their heart into each performance.

Trumpeter Ee Shan Pang proved that a small frame doesn’t equate to lung capacity as she led an improvised lead break that captured the entire audience. Ade Ishs launches himself out of his piano chair, never missing a single keystroke. Paul Bonnington gracefully creates depth with his stunning upright bass. Finally, Chelsea Allen has never looked happier than she does striking the drums with a refined control.

The second track Welcome Spring is a complete delight. A frenetic yet controlled number that really captures the essence of a spring morning. The crowd loves it and so does the entire band. What is great about the music created by this team is that each note resonates in each of them and in turn the listener. Ade Ishs ability to create an amazing and full sounds with the piano is on display all night throughout each track. The personal connections that they seems to have with each song really helps to create less of a musical performance and more of a complete story.

The addition of new member Ben Nieuwkerk on saxophone, flute and clarinet has added a whole new level to the music this group provides. After having listened to their album for a few months, I was certainly keen to see how they would fit these new instruments into the compositions. The flawless addition of Nieuwkerk has added a stunning new dimension to the playing of the group, each song he contributes to have another layer of meaning otherwise unheard in the previous recordings.

Each song performed on the night differed slightly to the original recording, exactly as jazz should. With subtle eye catches and head nods, Ade Ishs controls the show with ease. No musician cuts off the other and each respects the beginning and end of all sections. The highlights of the night would have to be the beautiful Fragments of Truth and the always amazing Little Flower. As well as Ade Ishs playfully plugging the album in the talk breaks.

This band is taking the contemporary jazz scene by storm. Without even beginning their performance the Paris Cat Jazz Club had offered them another show. This comes as no surprise seeing as the room was full and the music is amazing. The ishs/Allen Project has the ability to bring new listeners into the world of jazz and unite them with veteran lovers. With drum solos that sound like they belong in a rock group and killer saxophone breaks that make you wish you could play, the ishs/Allen Project are making a huge mark in the jazz world.

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