Mr Jigga @ Gershwin Room, Melbourne (09/07/05)

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It never asks where you’ve been, or why your back, and always greats you with a smile (and a sense of well ingrained alcohol and cigarette consumption)... ahh yes, the Espy. Enshrined within this 100 year old institution that is the Gershwin Room (pictured left), and the stage therein forms the floorboards upon which this commentary is based.

To borrow from www.epsy.com.au ”Everyone from Paul Kelly to The Whitlams, from Pacifer to The Kills & Hot Hot Heat, to local legends Bomba through to International metal heavyweights Ed Guy and Deeds of Flesh has performed in the Gershwin Room.”  I state this because it makes me think whoever is doing the booking, quite simply ‘knows their sh**’ – and not knowing much about Mr Jigga, other then when anyone says ‘9 piece band’ it can’t possibly be bad, another great performance was added to the memory banks.

At its core, Mr Jigga is made up by Ben Hense, Sam Schroder and Darcy McFall – forming in 2001 and playing ‘soulful electro beats’ for the masses.  The three of them combine with ‘Special Guests’ of Justin Young (keyboard), Tony Kopa, Paul Havea and Talei Wolfgramm (vocalists), Greg Pattern (drums) and Elvis Aljus (percussion). Big list, but what does it all mean on stage? 

Quality, in a word.  Party centric, skill laden, booty shaking music, combined with deep, soulful vocal work. With nine on stage, instruments, electronics and mics everywhere, Mr Jigga had a huge musical scope to play with.  They utilised a mix of band sounds, instrumental and vocal solos, kicking synth effects and more.  What really presented a solid party sound for me, was filling the ‘lull’ moments of live instrument orientated performance with beats from a Roland 808, MPC 4000 sampler and drum machine.

The first few tracks had me watching quite observantly, smiling and head nodding – because with such diversity and several people on stage, everyone was good at what they were doing – but still felt to me like it was being taken in turns to ‘present to the audience’.  A few more tracks and they were obviously just getting warmed up, because a switch was flicked and Mr Jigga came across with ardent cohesion.

Hands in the air, jumping, dancing and singing along – the 2/3’s capacity crowd got totally into it and with a cover thrown in that had me grinning like an idiot but unable to remember for you now, Mr Jigga was whole lot of fun.  Wether you want to admire the nuances of each individuals instrument proficiency and vocal stylings, or simply shake your ass like you just dont care – Mr Jigga delivers.

“Incendiary when played for modern dance floors (Electron Maker)” and “Australia has given rise to a funky, jazzy house act worthy of your attention…” are two quotes that populate www.mrjigga.com, and I could not agree more.

Previously featured on Nouveau Jazz and Moonlight Recordings in 2002 / 2003, with their own EP Electron Maker (2004) is available from their online store, I suggest you purchase it as Mr Jigga represents an ensemble worthy or your time.

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