Maestro Duffo Alitalia: Jeff Duff at the Norton Street Festa 2015

Posted on 29th October 2015

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The Norton Street Festa of Italian culture in Sydney this October 25 did not miss a Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr rat-pack. Short of the Festa being all pasta workshops, pizza, screaming bambini, screaming Mammas, groaning Pappas, beautiful people and cheesy French Fries, the Festa sported its own Rat-Pack in the form of Jeff Duff, Glenn Rhodes and Jess Ciampa on its mainstage from 1:00 p.m.

Well, at least the water-carrier was thanked by Duff for the vodka, and an appointment was made for whacky-backy with some happy bearded man in the crowd. All in good humour, of course, given Duff’s a totally clean machine. And that was really the extent of the rat-packery. The mood was merry, charitable and festive.

Some samples follow of the songs, complete with the festive sounds of the merry crowd.

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Among the songs performed by the Duffo Trio were Walk on the Wildside, Walking in Memphis, Sorrow and Sailing ….

cumberbatch_1Sailing is the Chris Cross track. It’s not usually of a cool calibre. Specifically, if you were into Duffo when Chris Cross’ Sailing first came out in 1979, you’d’ve surely missed it, maybe even sneeringly. But if you’ve since expanded your tastes, thanks especially to Duff’s own evolving catalogue, it’s a cool beauty as performed by the Trio. Sure, Chris Cross’s own version is pretty nasal; he abbreviates and just about squanders every meaningful potential of his own song. In Duff’s hands, in His Master’s Voice, and the keys and beats of Rhodes and Ciampa, this song is now a musical experience of genuine and graceful optimism—primed with Duff’s elegant elocution, and the artful way he expresses melancholy as he offers hope. There is nothing so bombastic as Walt Whitman’s claim to “sing the body electric”. There is more of the angelic hope of Keats, ready to die in the wake of the nightingale’s sweet song. Optimism that soars while being deeply anchored. Sailing, indeed. Try it at the bus-stop (I did, in Blacktown, and never lived longer).

Sailing

Love the one you’re with

The Trio of Duff, Rhodes and Ciampa was popular, driven to two encores, kindly over time. Amid these encores came the only really Italian track by the trio, given its association with "Dino Martino":

Sway

The song was recorded by Duff for the 2007 So Quiet album (available on iTunes), and Duff performed Sway on the popular nationwide Kerrie-Anne Show on Channel 9 TV:

Hard to get a shot let alone a vid at the Italian Festa without the various body parts of festival goers cavorting through every circumstance. So many of the shots from this occasion miss out on Duff’s feet. One tried hard to get a shot of what looked like a pair of particularly special Duff shoes; but whenever one got a frame on them, the Maestro’s mercurial spirit took him flying off left or right, and so on, over and over again.

For another experience of the Trio: Sun 29 Nov at St Leonards Park, Miller St, North Sydney, at the Spring into Jazz Festival from 3:00 pm. Read about Duff at last year’s Spring into Jazz here.

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– rodg.

Golden Eve: The Premier Bowie Is @ ACMI Gig

Posted on 12th July 2015

Jeff Duff talk/performance on BOWIE IS opening night

July 16, 2015; followed by the Bowie Late Nights and Symposia @ ACMI:

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From ACMI:

Step back in time with glam rock legend  Jeff Duff  as he explores his prolific music career and the impact of Bowie on his work and life.

From the glitz’n’glam of his Ziggy performances, to his trips beyond the stardust with his BOWIE Unzipped shows, Duff will take audiences on a journey behind the scenes of his onstage engagement with Bowie and his music, and lifts the glitter-spattered lid on a flamboyant career that spans the 1970s to today.

A very special guest of the program, the legendary Australian rocker kicks off the Strange Fascinations series, and will perform an intimate set of songs at the conclusion of the talk.

Jeff Duff and Glenn Rhodes: opening night: Bowie IS @ ACMI

Jeff Duff and Glenn Rhodes: opening night: Bowie IS @ ACMI

JD informs us, as follows, re the golden eve he performed with Rhodes on the grand:

my conversation/performance was very professionally organised. Jess McGuire interviewed amidst a steady flow of Duffo slides and anecdotes. My performance was with Glenn on grand piano on the main stage with a giant screen projecting duffo images. As it was opening night it was a wonderful audience and it sounded beautiful. I return in Sept to perform more at the exhibition.

Duff returns for a performance at the exhibtion, September 2015:

Nobody can touch him, really, as far as the different styles of music that he’s attacked and developed. And also, not only that, but his incredible style. I think he’s without a doubt the coolest rock star on the planet.Jeff Duff re David Bowie on ABC Melbourne radio Nov 2010

jeff duff, david bowie

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On the road to Duffo: Mullumbimby Music Festival 2014

Posted on 18th November 2014

Mullumbimby, that is

Mullumbimby, that is

The Duffo-pilgrimage of 2014 continues — now by way of a long road to the Mullumbimby Music Festival, courtesy of Antonionio at the wheel (I know how to spell his name, I just don’t know when to stop). Hope to document this travelling as it goes, and also to be so bold as to take post-worthy pics of the performances. The opening night has already sold out (but we’ll be there), and then there are afternoon gigs day-by-day (checking in). Potential plus! Duff is appearing in Kings Cross later on the same weekend, and then at the Rock Opera night at the State Theatre – from wearing flowers in his hair, to dodging king-hits, and then frocking up for something truly regal, all in a blink of days. Unless Antonionio is good for whipping, I don’t think we can follow Duffo all the way from Mullo back to Sydney so swiftly. But plenty of blinding spells to be reported soon enough and nevertheless, via this channel of Duffophilia.


So Jeff Duff played the Civic Hall on its opening nite (Thurs, Nov 20), on a fly-in. A German lady I met, Duffo-dumb till then, thought he was on cookies! But she also said he struck her as like broaching the line between genius and madness, in league with “David Bowie” and “Kate Bush”. Well, I rose up to the challenge of discussing this stuff, slipped verbally up and down here and there … and that’s enough of that night.

Then there was the Poinciana Café the following night (Fri, Nov 21). I didn’t exactly shadow Duffo but kept somehow in his wake as he, pre-performance, ordered a vego meal. I was, as a matter of fact, on the look-out for the same. That’s how I’d just excused myself, for hunger’s sake, from the German lady of the previous night, who was there again at this gig. But, all feeding and gabbing aside, Duff was soon up on stage—only to be attacked by Xmas beetles from all sides. Glenn Rhodes (who had just improvised some legs for his keys, so prepared the venue was …) later remarked that they performed like a punk band that whole night long, as they batted away this plague. It was a distressing debacle. My meal arrived with a beetle upon it. Mullumbimby pavements were absolutely caked with Xmas beetle. Vegans filled the nut-house. Duff and Rhodes championed on.

The highlight was the St. Martin’s Hall gig the next day (Sat, Nov 22). There the masses fully thronged the pulpits. And Duff and Rhodes reached deep down into their whole armamentarium of sound to deliver potent renditions of “Yesterday,” “Walking in Memphis,” “My baby just cares for me,” among others, including a swag of Bowie, in the hour. Rhodes played with mesmeric power throughout, surprising with his every harmonic choice, and his basic legerdemain. He’s truly the pianist to Duff as Mike Garson is to Bowie. As he explained later, his wonderful arrangement of “Walk on the wildside” works by him taking the minor chords to each of the major chords in Duff’s vocal lines. It makes for a bold and novel, arousing working of the song. How the crowds flocked to Duff and Rhodes after this performance, after they marvelled in applause to each and every song.

Here’s a tube, courtesy of Anthony, featuring Duff on concentrated, sublime vocals, and Rhodes in bar-by-bar wonders referencing just about every jazz style—absolute mainmen of keys and cords (folds of membranous tissue which project inwards from the sides of the larynx to form a slit across the glottis in the throat, and whose edges vibrate in the airstream to produce the voice):

See also their performance of Walking in Memphis at the same gig.

Some notes from another punter about the St Martin’s gig are here.

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Jeff Duff Trio spring into jazz

Posted on 4th November 2014

Duff performed at Milson’s Park, Kirribilli, this last Sunday (2 Nov 2014). Thanks to the man at another park (one I first found myself at) who promptly Googled me to the proper place. Duff’s voice piped its serpentine way to my ears over the suburbs, as I scaled, lunged and hurtled my way there, to land at the feet of his performance, eventually, on the grass.
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This was the “Spring into Jazz” event organised by North Sydney Council, with the Jeff Duff Trio on show — that’s Duff, Glenn Rhodes, and Jess Ciampa. Glenn Rhodes is known to the Duffophile as a co-composer of Jeanne d’arc on Duff’s Alone and Paranoid album, as a back-up vocalist on the Ground Control to Major Tom album, and as seen on The Midday Show sharing the vocal to Bowie’s Sorrow. They did that again as an encore to this "on the green" show. Jess Ciampa was a percussionist on the Lost in the Stars album. But up to then …

There was Duff taking a seat on the down-stage bench alongside a lady with long black hair and eyes behind shades for him to sing Young Americans to. And Duff wandering all about the crowd, so way down into the throng that he even heard a delay between his patter and its pick-up, and Rhodes had to ask Duffo "Which suburb are you in?" There were uncontrolled children let loose to play with Duff’s percussion instruments, and even a vino offered to quench him (no, his herbal tea sufficed). There was also Walk on the wildside in a breezy jazzy canter, and Duff’s own Miles Davis rap re-configured into the Marvin Gaye rap; see this tube to relive that song at the Thredbo Jazz Festval, 2013 — also with Rhodes on keys. Another highlight: Does anybody really know what time it is?, taking the Duffophile back to HMV’s ’70s.

Many folk reached for their cameras to take in a visual swig of Duff — of his many photogenic-plus-musical moments throughout this sunny gig. This Duffophile is always too shy or high on the senses to do the same. Just go searching facebook for such stuff. Maybe searching for “Sydney at its best on a Sunday in Spring” will reveal and revive all for you about this sunny and especially magical Duff gig.

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