Arriving from Montreal where she had been running her Afro-Cuban jazz group ¡A Comer!, it did not take Louise long to get involved with the Latin music scene in Brisbane. After a brief stint with La gran salsa (run by John and Marina Varney), she was invited by vocalist Wendy Murray to be musical director of Hot Mambo. Originally a 5-rhythm, 5-horn, several vocalists ensemble, Hot Mambo eventually settled for 4 rhythm and 2 horns, given the scarcity of gigging opportunities for a group with 12 members.
Hot Mambo had a successful run for more than 10 years. Although personnel chopped and changed a bit, core group members, in addition to Wendy and Louise, were Clint Allen (trumpet), Yenny Barnes (percussion), Jeremy O’Connor and Pat Farrell (bass), John Stefulj and Scott Griffiths (winds), and Sacha Kloostra (drums). Hot Mambo played some great charts – from Irakere, Los Van Van, Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz, Juan-Luis Guerra, Eddie Palmieri, Kirsty MacColl and many others, covering salsa, guaguancó, chachacha, bolero, merengue, bachata and even latin funk. Louise contributed several originals to the repertoire, such as ‘Hot Mambo descarga’, ‘Brillante esta la luna’, ‘Si te quiero’ and ‘¿Como escondir mi pena?’
Highlights of their years together were a 4-year residency at the Treasury Casino Brisbane, and performing at the Brisbane Festival (Spiegeltent), the Valley Jazz Festival, the Radio NAG Valentine’s Day Fundraising Costume Ball at Yeppoon (3 or 4 times), and the Mackay Jazz Festival.
Barbod Valadi Quartet
Barbod Valadi is a guitarist/composer who migrated to Brisbane from Iran in 2011, and who is currently living and working in Melbourne. When he began his studies in the jazz program at the Queensland Conservatorium, it soon became clear that he was on a quest – to create his own personal form of musical expression that he called ‘Persian Jazz’. He soon formed Jazzab (James Ball – piano, Eamon Holligan – flute, Omid Rahimi –vocals, daf, Mostafa Odabaee – tombak and Barbod on tar as well as guitar), a unique group that played Barbod’s Persian compositions - settings of poetry by Omar Khayyam, Rumi and others, that left room for jazz-inflected soloing and vocal improvisation.
Louise played piano in the Barbod Valadi Quintet, however, which represents the reverse of the equation - performing Barbod’s compositions that are indisputably ‘jazz’, but with a Persian flavor. The other personnel were John Stefulj (winds), Steve Fischer (drums) and Eden Armstrong (bass). Each of Barbod’s compositions has its own concepts and challenges, showing a unique and personal approach to composition and improvisation, and combining elements of Persian modality and rhythms with harmonic and rhythmic concepts from western jazz. The musical language draws heavily on bebop, with Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk the primary influences. And yet, the indicated mode is not Dorian, or even altered scale – it might be Esfahan or Chaharga, and the musicians are asked to try to imitate its micro-tonality (much easier on saxophone than on piano!)
Barbod Valadi Quintet performed at the Brisbane International Jazz Festival (2016), and several times at the Brisbane Jazz Club before Barbod moved to Melbourne.