Papalote and Jumping Fences in concert
BEMAC Space 21 November 1998
by Peter Freeman, School of Music, The University
It’s rare these days that anyone’s expectations of a concert are met,
let alone exceeded. The Papalote/Jumping Fences concert in November was
a decided exception. The two groups combined to present an entertaining
and musically engaging set of songs from Brazil, Cuba, Peru, Venezuela,
Argentina, Chile and even South Africa, together with originals by Sue
Monk and Lachlan Hurse.
This concert’s attraction was its honesty, musical eclecticism and
craft, the two groups working together as a well-rehearsed team.
Sue played guitar and sang with the assurance and confidence of a
performer who was used to the stage—not surprising, as in the past her
stages have also included Cuba and Central America. One could tell that
Justo Diaz was a consummate musician by the way he played the bamboo
flute, the quena, the charango and the guitar (especially the guitar)
and that he was enjoying the concert atmosphere immensely.
The ‘tres’ looked like a small 12-string guitar with half the strings
missing, but in the hands of Juan Carlos Rios it produced a bold,
captivating sound that shaped the melodies with a jangly, metallic
sophistication. Holding everything together in the rhythm section,
Souren Tchakerian showed his expertise on congas, bongos, shakers and
triangle, while Lachlan played some fine electric bass.
The songs of the Cuban Pablo Milanes were especially memorable for
their strength and solidity, as was the road-tested ‘children’s
favourite’, the Peruvian folk song ‘Cariñito’ with the fabulous,
on-the-beat, bombo drum. The original Jumping Fences songs proved just
as appealing as those from overseas, but with the added bonus of a
recognisable local content. From the delicious dissolution of the solo
bass into rain and water sounds in the introduction to ‘Just go gently’,
to the word-painted pictures and pathos of ‘View from a wooden chair’,
these songs displayed a rare individualism that needed no selling to a
very receptive audience.
The whole evening provided a rare opportunity to switch off from
everyday distractions to enjoy and be absorbed by the proceedings. As a
pleasantly surprised member of the audience said to me afterwards: ‘Hey,
this is great value ... I hadn’t realised this standard of concert was
available here under the Story Bridge!’