My take on this fabulous metal-jazz big band, originally published in Scenestr.
Valtozash, Brisbane’s 17-piece jazz-metal big band, headlined X-Mess II at Crowbar in Fortitude Valley (20 December).
They crammed onto the stage and brutalised us with an onslaught of their very, very loud, maniacal humour.
Bandleader Andre Bonetti said: “We are the largest band to grace the stage at Crowbar. It’s the first time we’ve played here, we’re headlining, and Crowbar is THE metal venue in Brisbane. It’s really big for us.”
Bonetti (vibraphone) is the wizard extraordinaire, unleashing his quirky genius on an unsuspecting world. His musicians embrace their demons to lace a dystopian treacle over jazz compositions of the highest order. If the end of the world sounds like this, bring it on!
In ‘Dancing With Ravenous Dogs’, drummer Ben Shannon and bassist Zac Sakrewski start a heavy, funky death knell over which the band paints the nightscape. The audience nods and sways as one in rhythmic acknowledgement.
James McIntyre’s guitar casts an ethereal spell over us before crescendoing into a frenzy. Simon Ward’s random, meandering trumpet intoxicates, then the horns slay us with perfect chaos.
The music is loud. The solos are wild. The pleasure-pain thing is happening and people are grimacing gleefully. The time signatures chop and change, the musos start and stop. Silence. Cacophony.
Every member of this band is a master of their instrument. It cannot be otherwise.
‘Humans Are So Depressingly Stupid’ is a crowd favourite. It’s funky blues with a touch of happy oddness. There are wacky, wonderful solos by Julian Palma (saxophone), Dan Brown (trumpet), and Bonetti, who flays his vibraphone with euphonic panache while leaping about and conducting.
Of course the band wraps it all up with a classic jazz outro, destroyed.
Valtozash is named after ‘váltóz’, the Hungarian word for change, and this band delivers a molotov cocktail of change. In a heavy take on a Herbie Hancock composition, the musicians crash and burn through ‘Iron Maiden Voyage’.
Midnight approaches and we’re frankly quite surprised that there will actually be a tomorrow.
Lightning strikes us in the form of ‘Fighting The Wizard Bird’. It’s heart-stoppingly fast and glorious. Its vivid imagery is captured in the sound and imprinted in the mind. Vibes and guitar, then horns join to launch a frenetic opening, with superb, soaring solos by Matthew Copley (trumpet) and David Cox (saxophone).
We end the night with ‘Aerial Nardis’, a bird’s eye view of the world as we don’t want to know it. Bass guitar loops three notes of impending doom, while John Stefulj’s soprano saxophone bleeds out the main melody (of Miles Davis’ ‘Nardis’, as adopted by Bill Evans) like a broken-winged bird.
The entire band rains despair over us. Will we live to see another day? Yes, because hearing Valtozash at Crowbar was an act of unconditional deliverance. Read this, weep, then rejoice!
When’s the next gig?