Way Out West
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Way Out West

Seddon, Victoria, Australia | INDIE

Seddon, Victoria, Australia | INDIE
Band World Jazz




"July 2008 Montreal Jazz Festival Review"

This sextet, not to be confused with the Bristol trance act, `really ought to be called Way Out East and South. Based out of Melbourne, Australia, they weave a modern jazz sound boasting elastic grooves and brisk percussion, but their ace in the hole is Dung Nguyen, who’ll at times put aside his guitar and take up Vietnamese zithers called dan trahn and dan bau. This ain’t no worldbeat novelty stunt—the instruments are worked in artfully, and beyond them, there’s a melodic sense to the whole band, led by award-winning trumpeter Peter Knight, that draws on sounds from east, west, north and south to create something honest, inventive and original. - Zaki Ibrahim Hour Magazine

"Review of Vancouver Jazz Festival performance June ‘08"

Down the path (through a swatch of lemonade and fresh corn stands), Way Out West hypnotized the crowd with a more Eastern take on new music. With trumpeter Peter Knight and Vietnamese guitarist/dan trahn player Dung Nguyen leading the way, the group managed to strike a wonderful note of worldliness without kitsch.

Particularly lovely was Is The Moon Really That Far Away?, a spoken word composition that evoked cool breezes and muggy subcontinental heat all at once.

Truly one of the highlights of the day, the Melbourne-based group managed to combine different styles seamlessly, succeeding where so many other world music fusion groups fail. - Elaine Corden Vancouver Sun

"Album review October 2007 Rating * * * * *"

A mixed marriage of unprecedented success! While the thought of fusing African and Vietnamese music may appear unusual, the result is one of the most compelling releases of 2007. Trumpeter Peter Knight is a renowned innovative composer. Dung Nguyen brings the fleeting street sounds of Vietnam using a modified electric guitar and multi-stringed dan tranh. Dave Beck, Howard Cairns and Ray Pereira are at one with the rhythms, the latter especially textural when raising the African grooves to danceable levels. But their grooves are corralled by the underlying focus on interaction and expression through the horns of Knight and Paul Williamson.
- ABC Limelight Magazine

"Album review November 2007 Rating * * * * 1/2"

THE west here refers to Melbourne's western suburbs, illustrated by the first track, Postcard from Footscray, which opens with Asian effects: gongs and Dung Nguyen's dan tranh, a type of Vietnamese zither. After this languid, rippling-water beginning, underscored by echoes of industrialism, the insistent rhythm of a printing press emerges, dissolving into Howard Cairns' resonant bass line. Nguyen returns with the dan bau, a single-string Vietnamese instrument, to state a theme, soon elaborated by leader Peter Knight's trumpet and Paul Williamson on saxophone. This album draws on many influences: Vietnamese, African and a dash of the Middle East, all melded into Knight's original grooves, aided by Ray Pereira's percussion and Dave Beck's inspired drumming. Multi-instrumentalist Nguyen is a mainstay, also contributing some fine guitar work. Knight's inventive trumpet is beautifully restrained in a lyrical Aqua Profonda.
- The Australian newspaper

"Album review August 2007, Spectrum, John Clare"

When a disc features modified electric guitar, dan bau and dan trau (all played by Dung Nguyen), plus percussion, drum kit, bass, trumpet and saxophones, it is customary to talk about genres colliding and to declare that this is not your standard jazz performance. The real point here is how united in purpose this Melbourne band is, and how beautifully blended.
The Vietnamese instruments lose none of their exotic and compelling synthesis of pining and languor for being set against smoky horn ensembles. The rafts of horn sounds sometimes invoke classic jazz modernism. They also move into their own ringing marches of orientalism, fairly blazing out on the track Aqua Profonda.
Peter Knight's trumpet, Paul Williamson's saxophones and Nguyen's three-string instruments converse with soul and coherence in solos that draw from jazz and exotic vocabularies. This shining disc is the band's second.
- Sydney Morning Herald

"Album review September 2007, Derek Leather Rating * * * *"

Way Out West put Footscray on the musical map with its first release Footscray Station and its exotic fusion of the heritages of local musicians. Dung Nguyen on guitar and the Vietnamese strings of the dan bau and dan tranh, trumpeter Peter Knight, Paul Williamson on saxophones, bassist Howard Cairns and percussionist Ray Pereira follow their musical compass over even broader horizons on Old Grooves for New Streets. Nguyen still creates mystical moods of South-East Asia, but goes beyond on some tunes with deep bass lines and changing drum patterns that conjure up North Africa and the Mediterranean, as Knight and Williamson twist the music to and fro out front. There is also an off kilter swaggering funk and solemn hymn-like tunes where the horns build tension until Williamson closes on a keening arc towards the stratosphere.
- The Sunday Age

"Live review Adelaide Fringe Festival Rating * * * * *"

“Every member is a master musician interpreting the works wonderfully, with standout solos
from everyone.” - Adelaide Advertiser

"Live Review Hippo Bar Canberra"

Ascend the steps to the Hippo Bar and meet Way Out West – an eclectic
sextet that’s hard to pigeonhole. The fact that they appeared on
Wednesday night at the Hippo indicates they have some relation to jazz,
but this is music for music’s sake. Leading the band is Peter Knight on
trumpet, who keeps the band in groove with his towering presence,
sure-fire gestures and glances that tell the band a modulation is at
hand. Playing the saxophones is Adam Simmons – mainly on tenor, but he
did pull out some type of soprano sax for some evocative melodic
flights. A cursory look at the two horns might suggest this is another
Hancock-esque or Art Blakey like jazz combo, designed to get the party
moving and present the audience with familiar tunes or catchy riffs
done with verve. But, even accounting for the absence of a piano, this
is fresh and different.

Way Out West are based in Melbourne’s inner west, although are
increasingly spending less time there due to the demands of touring.
This is their third time in Canberra. As a Sydneysider I’m not familiar
with the cultural melting pot of Melbourne’s inner suburbs, although
after hearing this band, I consider myself an aspiring Melburnian and
deduce that Melbourne’s inner west must be at least as good as

Ray Pereira on percussion and Rajiv Jayaweera on drums were the
rhythmic heart of this gig. Rajiv has an economical kit – high hat,
crash and ride cymbals, snare, bass drum and a cute little “utility
drum” just above the snare. There are no toms and his playing is far
from cute. While Pereira lays down Afro-cuban rhythms on his congas
Jayaweera keeps a steady, supposedly conventional jazz rhythm that lays
the temporal groundwork for the music. On closer listening, Jayaweera’s
“world” influences – Indian and Latin – are apparent. He will play his
kit with hands, set up cross rhythms between the high hat and snare and
interject a well timed cymbal crash that splashes like a smooth
basketball-sized stone falling into a running stream. Rajiv’s solo in
the second set was particular inspiring – the absence of floor toms
ruled out the possibility of stomach-rumbling to rolls. Instead, he
resourcefully crafted a compelling solo with his snare and cymbals,
reminiscent of early Tony Williams. The texture of the solo went from
transparent to dense and forceful. All the while Pereira provided him
with driving support on the congas.

The rapport between Jayaweera and Pereira is an important feature of
the band. Pereira opened the first set with a solo intro on what looked
like a small tambourine and sounded like a miniature tabla. Pereira
obtained quite a range of sound by applying pressure on the drum skin
as he tapped it. By varying the pressure point he could bend the sound
by almost a fifth.

Pereira and Dung Nguyen combined at the end of the first set to play
one of their own compositions, perhaps written during a jam while the
other musicians were taking tea. This type of music is always free,
open and unpredictable. Nguyen is perhaps the chief stylist of Way Out
West. He plays the guitar and some traditional Vietnamese instruments:
the dan bau and dan tranh. His playing allows Way Out West to achieve
their distinctive blend of jazz-fusion and world music.

The dan bau appears to be related to the Chinese erhu, but is plucked
rather than bowed. A lever operated by Dung’s left hand changes the
pitch. He can bend notes to his heart’s content, taking us to the
jungle in the night or conjuring the mystery of a western ghost town.

Adam Simmons is particularly idiosyncratic on tenor sax. He lulls you
into a false sense of security, beginning his solos with conventional
bluesy lines. Then just when you think, cool – this is funky tenor
stuff – he launches into bellicose squeals, heartfelt yelps, frogs in
your throat growls, offhanded utterances and tones so high up the
register only a dog could hear them. Simmons gets a really dirty sound
out of his instrument; the type of tone that many believe is the only
way a tenor should be played. Rather than the “here I am, let me seduce
you with the straight talking sax” approach, Simmons employs the “hey
you – you think this rocks? Well what about this eeeeee; or this awwgg;
or check this out – yarnk yrank, cahhoooeee grisle grisle.” At other
times Simmons backs up Peter Knight’s trumpet musings with underlying
“harmonic Persian carpet notes” or lays out and smiles and dances with
the upper part of his body.

Although the structure of many of the pieces is modal, Knight’s
arranging allows for modulations, time shifts, texture variations and
interaction. He has lots of colour to draw upon in this sextet and
makes full use of it, turning his combo into a mini-big band.

Don’t let Way Out West surprise you. It’s easy to be lulled by the
exotic eastern melodies and coaxed into a false sense of security as if
you were a shepherd on the hills of Kashmir with your back turned
towards the Himalayas. Then, like a resounding avalanche, Rajiv will
smack the snare as loud as possible, your whole frame will shake, and
you will awake – excited, curious and apprehensive.

Wednesday’s gig coincided with the launch of their latest album, Old
Grooves for New Streets. Way Out West shouldn’t be compared to anyone,
but if you like Waiting for Guinness, Monsieur Camembert or Arabesque
and are looking for something with a more streetwise, worldly flavour,
you’ll do yourself no disservice by buying this album.

Oh, and did I mention the bass player? It seems that by providing the
very foundation on which the rest of a band builds lavish musical
sallies, by being inconspicuous yet powerful, bass players frequently
are taken for granted as just doing their job. If you focus your
attention on Howard Cairns’ bass lines you will be amply rewarded.
Cairns variation of the bass on beats three and four is particularly
notable. Composers, bass players and solo pianists can derive much
useful instruction by listening to how Cairns keeps momentum going and
maintains interest with his subtle rhythmic and pedal point variations.

Last word has to go to Ray Pereira, who taught the bar how to properly
shake a cocktail during a moody piece that climaxed with some almost
free and very adventurous jazz. These episodes were always used
sparingly and to release and express the growing latent tension. During
one of these spells Pereira began furiously shaking what looked like
some type of maraca, although it may indeed have been a cocktail shaker
filled with cardamon pods.

Way Out West are Peter Knight (trumpet), Adam Simmons (tenor sax), Dung
Nguyen (modified electric guitar, dan tranh (Vietnamese zither), dan
bau (single string plucked instrument), dan nhi (Vietnamese violin)),
Ray Pereira (percussion), Howard Cairns (acoustic bass), Rajiv
Jayaweera (drums).
http://canberrajazz.blogspot.com/2008/11/worldly-westies.html - Canberra Jazz Blog

"Review of 'Footscray Station' 2003"

The gorgeous Topp Twins of New Zealand sang a patriotic song on our ABC one night and I burst into tears. Not a Kiwi, I once lived on the South Island for a year. When Kath & Kim brings tears to my eyes it is for very different reasons, but I feel the same yearning for Melbourne, although not born there.
A strange joy in homesickness pours from this Melbourne disc, which is already dancing out of specialist shops in Sydney. A notable attraction is Dung Nguyen on modified electric guitar and traditional Vietnamese zither and violin. Dung is a leading performer of Vietnamese music and a jazz guitarist.
That these exotic sounds blend so well with jazz ensembles, beautifully harmonised and played, is a mysterious Melbourne alchemy. The band's name, Way Out West, is a celebration of the latest community of artists and musicians to gather in the city's inner west.
Take me back to dear old Footscray, Ricketts Point and Moonee Ponds. Not to mention the Maribyrnong River, which is celebrated here in Maribyrnong Sketch. Footscray Station's platforms one, two and three are immortalised in separate pieces. Composing honours are shared by the leader Peter Knight (whose beautifully simple and melodic trumpet playing is a highlight) bassist Howard Cairns and Dung Nguyen.
Jazz that lasts, for the most part integrates improvisation and composition organically; this disc is a very appealing example.
Surprise soloist for me is tenor saxophonist Paul Williamson, who leads an excellent rhythm and blues combo in Melbourne, but here brings the raw energy down and the expressivity up in beautifully poised statements - played with a great sound, superbly recorded. Another surprise is a poem about the metropolitan night sky - a very nice poem indeed - written by Knight and read pretty much perfectly by singer Martin Breeze.
While deploring Melbourne's excesses of infantile chauvinism, I think we can all appreciate the unique subtle vitality of that city's culture. This is an aspect of it that will surprise and delight you.
- Sydney Morning Herald


Footscray Station (Newmarket 2003)
Old Grooves for New Streets (released in Australia on Jazzhead 2007, in Canada on Effendi 2008)
The Effects of Weather
(Released in Australia on Jazzhead 2010)



A musical snapshot of multicultural Australia...

The eclectic trumpeter/composer Peter Knight, and Vietnamese traditional music virtuoso Dung Nguyen (dan bau, dan tranh, modified electric guitar) are at the heart of this remarkable collaboration. Along with world-renowned West African percussion specialist Ray Pereira, explosive saxophonist Paul Williamson, earthy acoustic bassist Howard Cairns, and young firebrand drummer Rajiv Jayaweera, Way Out West creates something miraculous: a truly new sound Inspired by the cultural vitality and diversity of Melbourne.

Way Out West won the 2009 Bell 'Jazz Ensemble of the Year' Award and appeared at major festivals and venues around the world in the past 18 months including, Montreal Jazz Festival, Toronto Harbourfront Centre, Veneto Jazz Festival (Italy), Takatsuki Jazz Festival (Japan), Vancouver Jazz Festival, Brisbane Festival, Darwin Festival, and EBS Space in Seoul. In May/June this year the band celebrates the release of a new album The Effects of Weather (on Jazzhead) with an extensive tour of Australia.

The Effects of Weather, like the band's previous albums, delivers an intriguing collection of jazz inflected melodies infused with sounds from Vietnam and grooves from West Africa. In addition, this album draws in a diverse range of other influences from the minimalism of Steve Reich to the dirty blues of the Mississippi Delta. It also delves deeper into the multi-instrumental talents of Dung Nguyen featuring him playing dan nguyet (Vietnamese mandolin) as well as his regular instruments, dan tranh (Vietnamese zither) and modified electric guitar.

Praise for Way Out West's 2007 release, Old Grooves for New Streets
Winner 2009 Bell Award, ‘Best Australian Jazz Ensemble’
Nominated for 2008 APRA ‘Jazz Work of the Year’
#1 on jazz charts in Montreal July 2008
Included in “Top 10 CDs of 2007” Sunday Herald Sun
Included in Jazz Australia’s Top CDs of 2007
Critics’ Poll
* * * * * ABC Limelight Magazine
* * * * * Adelaide Advertiser
* * * * 1/2 The Australian
* * * * The Age
* * * * Voir Magazine (Montreal)