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Octave Inc
Julian Banks Group - Agung
Mezza/Ginsburg Ensemble - Convergence
Jeremy Ledbetter Trio - Got a Light?
Tim Stevens Double Trio - with whom you can be who you are
John Pittman - Kinship
Alex Stuart - Aftermath
Daniel Susnjar Afro Peruvian Group - Spark
John Coltrane and his Band - Both directions at once: The lost album
Hashima - The Haywain
Adrean Farrugia And Joel Frahm - Blued Dharma
Harley Card - The Greatest Invention
Harry Mitchell Group - Don’t Stop Here
Paul Derricott's Coast Band - Coast
Mat Jodrell - Echoes of Harlem
Evan Harris - Skylines
Chris Platt Trio - Sky Glow
Crump Cake Orchestra - Copy Copy
Speedball - We Have Moved
Andrew Dickeson Quartet - Is That So
Thierry Fossemalle Trio - Actual Asset
Justin Gray and Synthesis - New Horizons
The Australian National Jazz Orchestra - Child’s Play
Aaron McCoullough Quartet - Provenience
Nick Maclean Quartet - Rites of Ascension
Common Quartet - The Hive
Patti Austin and James Morrison - Ella and Louis
John Scurry's Reverse Swing - Post Matinée

2017 ARCHIVES:

Quentin Angus - In Stride
Adrian Lim-Klumpes - Yield [Preludes and Fugues for piano]
Tony Barnard and Casey Golden - Inventions
Polymorphic Orkestra - Confluence
Nick Haywood Trio - Many Rivers
Mirrors - Louis Stapleton
Andrew Butt Trio - Blueberry Ash
Sandy Evans and Friends - Rock Pool Mirror
Ephemera - Orbits and Riffs
Tal Cohen - Gentle Giants
Jeremy Rose - Within and Without
The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke - Earshift Music
Norah Jones - Day Breaks
Diana Krall - Turn Up The Quiet
Sharny Russell - Comes a Time
Hinterlandt - Ode to Doubt
The Microscopic Septet - The Micros Play The Blues
Keir Neuringer and Matthew Wright - Speak Cities
Jack Thorncraft - Let’s Think About Tomorrow
Harry Mitchell
Tom Vincent - Blues in America
Jackson Harrison Trio - Sintering
Tim Stevens - Media Vita
Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau
Daniel Weltlinger - Samoreau
Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau - Nearness

2016 ARCHIVES:

Aziza - Aziza
Elliot Galvin Trio - Punch
Paul Grabowsky, Wilfred Brothers and Monash Art Ensemble - Nyilipidgi
Divergence Jazz Orchestra - Fake it Until you Make it
Brad Mehldau Trio - Blues and Ballads
Kristin Berardi Band - Just as You Are
Brenton Foster - Two Cities
Andrea Keller and Tim Wilson - Consider This
Tony Gould and Mike Nock - The Monash Sessions
Jeremy Rose and The Earshift Orchestra - Iron in the Blood
Paul Williamson Quartet - Live at Uptown
Tim Garland - One
Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra - Fiddes vs Tinkler
Julius Schwing TrioB - Edge 2:isthmus
Alex and Nilusha - Afterglow
ATM15 - Human Music
Will Vinson - Perfectly Out of Place
Jason Rebello - Held
Tim Jones - Strangely Beautiful
Brad Mehldau - Blues and Ballads
Brad Mehldau - 10 Years Solo Live
The Robert Glasper Experiment - Miles Davis - Everything’s Beautiful
Simon Vincent's The Occasional Trio - Opening Lines
Casey Golden Trio - Miniature
ATM15 - Human Music
Carl Orr - Forbearance
Francesca Prihasti - Evolving
Phronesis - Parallax
Sonic Mayhem Orchestra - Live Mayhem
Florian Hoefner Group - Luminosity
Ingrid James and Alexis Tcholakian Trio - Trajectoire
BluesFest2016
Myra Melford and Ben Goldberg - Dialogue
Jeremy Sawkins' Organ Quartet - Artefact
Ben Winkelman Trio - The Knife
Dave Douglas and Monash Art Ensemble - Greenleaf Music
Ravi Coltrane
Hi(gh) Curious - Eugene Ball 4tet
Gerard Presencer and Danish Radio Big Band - Groove Travelers
Bungalow - Unseen Scenes
Robin Eubanks's Mass Line Big Band - More than Meets the Ear
Mike Nock and Laurence Pike - Beginning and End of Knowing

2015 ARCHIVES:

Jeremy Rose Quartet - Sand Lines
Chris Cody - Not My Lover
Stu Hunter - The Migration
David Ades - A Life in a Day
Kristin Berardi - Where or When
Jeff 'Tain' Watts - Blue Vol 1
Nick Freer - The Unsuspecting
Joshua Hatcher - Now and Then
Paul Grabowsky and Niko Schauble - Spiel
Paul Grabowsky and Vince Jones - Provenance
Tim Garland - Return to the Fire
Eternal - Chris McNulty
Frances Madden - If This Were a Dream
Orbiturtle - Sakura (Studio Songs
Cecile McLorin Salvant - For One to Love
Sydney Jazz Orchestra - Nothing Personal
James Whiting - Hard mince
Gary Daley - Sanctuary
Aaron Diehl - Space Time Continuum
Tim Willis and The End - Night and Day
Robert Burke - Power of the Idea
Joshua Redman - The Bad Plus
Tim Stevens - I’ll Tell You Later
Barney McAll - Mooroolbark
Angela Davis Quartet and Strings - Lady Luck
Geoff Kluke - Valley Road
John Raymond - Foreign Territory
Mike Nock and Roger Manins - Two-Out
Juliana Areias - Bossa Nova Baby
Allan Browne Quintet - Ithaca Bound
Francesca Prihasti - Night Trip
Myra Melford - Snowy Egret
Chris Potter Underground Orchestra - Imaginary Cities
Casey Golden Trio - Outliers
Jack DeJohnette - Made in Chicago
BluesFest 2015
Joe O’Connor Trio - Praxis
Matt McMahon - The Voyage of Mary and William
Vijay Iyer Trio - Break Stuff
Kenny Wheeler - Songs for Quintet
Tate Sheridan - Tate Sheridan
Nic Vardanega Quartet - Inverno
Penelope Sai - Some Kind of Dream
Marc Hannaford - Can You See With Two Sets of Eyes
Rafael Karlen - The Sweetness of Things Half Remembered
Ben Gurton Quintet - Prelude to a Scene
Josh Kyle and Sam Keevers - Songs of Friends
Tim Garland - Songs to the North Sk
Slowly Rolling Camera - Into the Shadow
Verneri Pohjola - Bullhorn
RichardHavers - Uncompromising Expression

2014 ARCHIVES:

Allira Wilson - Rise and Fall
Mark Turner Quartet - Lathe of Heaven
Paul Grabowsky - Solo
BLOW - Presence
Frode Haltli - Vagabonde Blu
Magnusson, Oehlers, Vanderwal - Paper Tiger
Calum Builder and Tate Sheridan - In Hiding
Mark Turner Quartet - Lathe of Heaven
Shol - Shol
Mike Nock Octet - Suite Sima
The Bad Plus - Inevitable Western
Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival 2014
Alex and Nilusha - Tales to Tell
Robert Burke with Kenny Werner - Do True
Kavita Shah - Visions
Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden - Last Dance
Song Fwaa - Songs of No Guns For We Are Anomalous
Henri Peipman - 30. Detsember
Mathew Sheens - Untranslatable
Hammerhead - Mozaic
Penny King Quintet - Journey
Adrian Cunningham - Ain’t that Right! The Music of Neal Hefti
Tom Barton - Aspirations
Jex Saarelaht Trio - Liminal
The Hunters and Pointers - The Hunters and Pointers
Melissa Oliveira - In My Garden
Gwilym Simcock - Instrumation
Daniel Susnjar - Su Su Nje
Kim Lawson Quartet - Hey Day
The Nexus Project - First Light
Melbourne International Jazz Festival May 30–June 8, 2014
Java Quartet - Together
Paul Grabowsky Sextet - The Bitter Suite
Dizzy Gillespie - The Champ
Robert Davi - Davi Sings Sinatra
Eric Starr Group - Such is Life
BluesFest 2014
Sam Bates Trio - Backblocks
Ben Panucci Trio - Short Stories
James Greening - Greening From Ear to Ear, Tam O’Shanter Tales
Alex Stuart - Place to Be
Tilman Robinson - Network of Lines
Eamon Dilworth - Tiny Hearts
Bob Venier - Discovering You
Brendan Clarke - Stretch
Julian Curwin - The Mango Balloon Volume 3
Daniel Hunter - The Twentieth
Mike Rivett - Digital Seed
Quentin Angus – Perception
Alfredo Rodriguez - The Invasion Parade
Danilo Perez - Panama 500
Joe McEvilly with Movement 9 - Wings
Anton Delecca Quartet - The Healer
Sam Anning Trio - Sweethearts
Chet Baker - The Italian Sessions
Dexter Gordon - Blows Hot and Cool
Curtis Counce - Complete Studio Recordings
Peggy Lee - Mink Jazz
Lou Donaldson - Midnight Creeper
Ahmad Jamal - It’s Magic
Chris Poulsen Trio - David and Goliath
Anton Delecca Quartet - The Healer
Ross McHenry - Distant Oceans
Scott Hamilton and Dusko Goykovich - Tight But Loose
Elodie Sablier - Vertigo
Celine Rudolph - Metamorflores
Dusko Goykovich - 5ive Horns & Rhythm
Dusko Goykovich1 - Sambo Do Mar
Dusko Goykovich2 - Samba Tzigane
Red Prysock - The Best of Red Prysock
Scott Hamilton - Swedish Ballads
Pee Wee Ellis - Tenoration
Andrea Keller Quartet with Strings - Wave Rider
Divergence Jazz Orchestra - The Opening Statement
Paul Williamson - Connect Four

2013 ARCHIVES:

Janet Seidel and Friends - Far Away Places
Julien Wilson Quartet - This is Always; Swailing
Monash Art Ensemble (Australian Art Orchestra and Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music)
Simon Thacker's Svara Kanti - Rakshasa
Todd Hardy - Swings and Roundabouts
Captain Kirkwood - Theseus and The Minotaur
Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival 2013
Adam Katz - Adam Katz
Resurgence - Duende
States of Play - States of Play
Monash students & overseas artists. The Monash Sessions
Compass Quartet - Oneirology
Keith Jarrett Trio - Somewhere
Hannaford Tinkler and Barker - Faceless Dullard
Steve Newcomb Orchestra - Caterpillar Chronicles
The Vampires - Tiro
The New Cabal
Jonathan Zwartz - The Remembering & Forgetting of the Air
Angela Davis - The Art of The Melody
Yitzhak Yedid - Suite in Four Movements
Paper Plane
Leigh Carriage - Mandarin Skyline
Melbourne International Jazz Festival May 31-June 9 2013
Monique DiMattina - Nola's Ark
Tom Vincent Quartet - Just Enough
Tomasz Stankos New York Quartet - Wistawa
Neil Cowley Trio - The Face of Mount Molehill
Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran - Hagar’s Song
Cecile McLorin Salvant - Woman Child
The catholics - Yonder
Origami - Karaoke
Origami - The Usefulness of Art
Mike Nock and Howie Smith - Opal Dream
BLOW - Empathy
Kjetil Moster - Moster! Edvard Lygre Møster
Edouard Bronson - Intimate
Alex Stuart - Around
Jess Greens Bright Sparks - Tinkly Tinkly
Charmaine Jones and Mike Bevan - Still
Trichotomy - Fact Finding Mission
Phronesis - Walking Dark
Steve Barry - Steve Barry
Alister Spence Trio - Far Flung
Chris Potter - The Siren
Matthew Sheens - Every Eight Seconds
Marialy Pacheco - Spaces Within
Joseph Tawadros - Chameleons of the White Shadow
Ted Vining Trio - Live at PBS FM 1981
Nostalgia 77 - The Sleepwalking Society
Wayne Shorter - Without A Net
Dave Jackson Quartet - Cosmontology
Bobo Stenson Trio - Indicum
Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival 2012
Daramad - Daramad
Penelope Sai - Siana
John Surman - The Rainbow Band Sessions
Murphy's Law - Big Creatures and Little Creatures
Slumgum - The Sky his Own

2012 ARCHIVES:

Gregg Arthur - Unforgettable – A Portrait of Nat ‘King’ Cole
Conly, Harding, Jones, Taylor - Grass Roots
Mace Francis New York Nonet - Land Speed Record
Magnet - Magnet
Willow Neilson - Lightbulb Life
Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival
Moskus - Salmesykkel
Marc Johnson and Eliane Elias - Swept Away
The Andy Sugg Group - The Berlin Session
Abel Cross Quintet - Neo Bop
Diana Krall - Glad Rag Doll
Divergence Jazz Orchestra- Live at the Bald Faced Stag 29/7/12
Seaman Dan - Sunnyside
Sean Wayland - Slave to the Machine (Volumes 1 & 2)
Logic Live (Double DVD/CD)
Mike Nock and Laurenz Pike - Kindred
James Carter - After All
Tony Gould and Peter Petrucci - The Journey Home
Matthias Schriefl - Six, Alps & Jazz
Simcock, Garland, Sirkis - Lighthouse
Jacam Manricks - Cloud Nine
Sarah McKenzie - Close Your Eyes
Bernie McGann - Wending
Craig Scott Quintet - Timeline
Marialy Pacheco 11th August 2012 – Coffs Harbour
Phil Treloar - Of Other Narratives - tracings in the ground of. Collective Autonomy / Volume 3 - Primal Communication
Mike Stern - All Over the Place
Neneh Cherry and The Thing - The Cherry Thing
John Abercrombie Quartet - Within a Song
Josh Kyle - Possibilities
John McAlls Black Money - Alter Ego
Peter J Martin - Waltz for the Wicked
Lily Dior - Let's Talk About It
Wayne Krantz - Howie 61
Motion - The Drowned World
Renaud Garcia-Fons - Solo – The Marcevol Concert
Tim Stevens - Life's Undertow
Guy Strazz Quartet - Eastern Blues
Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2012
Daimon Brunton Quintet - Wha Sa Live
Tim Willis and The End - Keep Your Chin Up
Tim Clarkson - Evolution of Beauty
Vijay Iyer Trio - Accelerando
Esbjorn Svensson Trio - 301
Phronesis - Walking Dark
Melody Gardot - The Absence
Tony Gorman - Tony Gorman's Monday Club
Barney McAll - Graft
Skii Harvey - Bound by History
Sandy Evans and Friends with Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani and Sruthi Laya - Cosmic Waves
Buck Clayton - The Complete Legendary Jam Sessions: Master Takes
Dick Hyman Trio - You're My Everything
Trombone Shorty - For True
Jens Thomas - Speed of Grace
Ben Hauptmann - Yum Yum Tree RecordsCC
David Murray Octets - The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint
Galaxstare - A Time, Times and Half a Time
David Ades & Friends - A Glorious Uncertainty
Tal Cohen Quartet - Yellow Sticker
Alfredo Rodriguez - Sounds of Space
Alex Pertout and Nilusha Dassenaike - Moments in Time

2011 ARCHIVES:

Benjamin Sanz Quintet - Mutation Majeure
Houston Person - So Nice
Compass - Ode to an Auto Rickshaw
The Vampires - Garfish
Charmaine Jones and Mike Bevan - A Small Hotel
Slide Albatross
Marc Hannaford - Ordinary Madness (Quintet) and Sarcophile (Trio)
Dave Brubeck Quartet - Their Last Time Out
Nicki Parrott - Can't Take My Eyes Off You
Keith Jarrett - Rio
Nick Haywood Quartet - 1234
Kellylee Evans - Nina
Ella Fitzgerald - S'Wonderful: Ella in Japan
Liam Burrows With John Morrison's Swing City - All of Me
Michael Feinstein - The Good Life: The Sinatra Project, Volume Two
Gadjo Guitars - L'Amour En Douce
Bridie King - Blue Ivories
Andy Sheppard, Michel Benita and Sebastian Rochford - Trio Libero
Maggie Britton - Ditto – Songs for Alexander
Christian McBride - Conversations with Christian
Phil Treloar - Of Other Narratives
Jeff Riley - Jazz Suite
Quentin Angus Quintet - Retrieval Structure
Robert Burke, Tony Gould, Tony Floyd and Nick Haywood - Live at Bennett's Lane
Mike Nock Trio Plus - Hear and Know
Peter Knight - Fish Boast of Fishing
Marialy Pacheco - Songs that I Love
Bucky and John Pizzarelli - Generations
Emma Grace Stephenson - Jazz Workshop AustraliaCC
Warren Vache and Bill Charlap - 2gether
Ella Fitzgerald - Live at Mister Kelly's
Cedar Walton - Voices Deep Within
Samurai Spirit - Ganbare Nippon
Warren Wolf - WW
Ella Fitzgerald - Best of the BBC Vaults
Rebecca Kilgore with Harry Allen Quartet - Live at Feinstein's: Celebrating Lady Day and Prez
Nick Hempton - The Business
James Whiting - Burbank
Keith Jarrett - Rio
Compass Quartet - Ode to an Auto Rickshaw
Darius Jones Trio - Big Gurl [Smell My Dream]
Memory of Elements - MoE
Laura Fygi - The Best is Yet to Come
"Buck" Pizzarelli and the West Texas Tumbleweeds - Back in the Saddle Again
Dave Ades & Friends @ Venue 505 (9/11/2011)
Wangaratta Festival of Jazz 2011
Sean Jones - No Need for Words
Peter Knight and Dung Nguyen - Residual
Takadimi - New Common Sense
Ingrid James & The Global Collective - Pangaea
Origami Trio - The Blues of Joy
The Andrew Dickeson Quintet - Weaver of Dreams
The Paul McNamara Trio - IndependentCC
Karrin Allyson - Round Midnight
Nicki Parrott and Ken Peplowski - Like a Lover
Rossano Sportiello Trio - Lucky to be Me
Stan Getz - The Clef and Norgran Studio Albums
Sherrie Maricle and The DIVA Jazz Orchestra - Johnny Mandel: The Man & His Music
Leonie Cohen Trio - Sideshow Pony
Cedric Hanriot - French Stories
Laura Kahle - Circular
Lee McAllistair - Spellbound
Adrian Cunningham - Walkabout
Sandy Evans Sextet - When the Sky Cries Rainbows
Mace Francis Orchestra - Chinese Whispers IV
Katie Noonan Elixir - First Seed Ripening
Matt Keegan Trio - Meets David Ades
Harold Lopez-Nussa Trio - El Pais de las Maravillas
Dan Barnett - Somewhere, Some Place, Some Time
Scott Hamilton and Rossano Sportiello - Midnight at Nola's Penthouse
Bill Charlap - I'm Old Fashioned
Duke Ellington - The Great Concerts: London & New York 1963-64
Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2011
Howard Alden - I Remember Django
Elly Hoyt - Pinnacle
Sarah McKenzie - Don't Tempt Me
Jeremy Pelt - The Talented Mr Pelt
My Goodness McGuiness - Insular Peninsula
Pascal Schumacher Quartet - Bang My Can
Browne, Hannaford, Anning - Shreveport Stomp
Cameron Earl Quartet - Run Run
Daniel Gassin Sextet - Which Way
Fran Swinn Trio - Every Dog
Joachim Kuhn, Majid Bekkas and Ramon Lopez - Chalaba
Portico Quartet - Knee-deep in the North Sea
Matt Baker - Underground
Luke Howard and Janos Bruneel - Open Road
The End - The End
Jason Moran and The Bandwagon - Ten
Briana Cowlishaw - When Fiction Comes to Life
Art Tatum - Solo Masterpieces
Allan Vache - Look To The Sky
Jacam Manricks - Trigonometry
Quinsin Nachoff - Forward Motion (FoMo)
Song Fwaa - Ligeti's Goat
Jane Monheit - Home
Bill Allred Featuring John Allred - The New York Sessions
Duke Ellington - From His Treasure Chest 1965-72
David Klein Quintet - My Marilyn
3ofMillions - Abstruction
BluesFest 2011
Amphibious - Alive & Breathing
Jane Irving - Beams
Tim Stevens Trio - Scare Quotes
James Osborne Jazz Collective - Playtime
Renaud Garcia-Fons - Mediterranees
Mark Isaacs's Resurgence Band - Aurora
Nicki Parrott - Black Coffee
"Buck" Pizzarelli and the West Texas Tumbleweeds - Diggin' Up Bones
Lew Soloff and Steve Richman - Sketches of Spain

2002-2010 ARCHIVES

 Reviews

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To Search for reviews - Key CTRL+F and artist or album name
 
Octave Inc (Independent)
The music of Octave Inc., a genre bending Sydney based quartet, derives from numerous influences and directions. Primarily the core melodies and harmonies of this debut album are composed by the band members Michael Slater on saxophone and Andrew Jeon on guitar. The pair formed the band in 2014 channelling influences from the American jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington, the R&B based band Tower of Power, and a sprinkling of the legendary American rock band Chicago into their original mix.Their recording mission statement was to re-create and bottle the vibes that they created when playing live shows, reducing the sound effects and letting the instruments cut through to showcase the band’s musicality. On this recording, in real jazz tradition, all band members contribute elements of their own improvisational creativity to every track. In most of those aforementioned instances the music runs down the middle and everybody paints mostly within the lines, delivering a number of engaging originals with Jeon’s guitar featuring heavily throughout. And it works! On Hide and Seek it adds rhythmic zest alongside Mitchell King’s throbbing bass, while Slater’s superb saxophone playing developes in a mellow vibe on the tracks Lost Balloon and Enterprise. But this recording and this band aren’t about featured solos but more about ensemble playing. Jesse Nguyen (keys), Mitchell King (bass) and Riccardo Quirke (drums) showcase equal rapport with other band members and deliver positive results when branching out admirably. And that’s the real beauty of the album - when it leisurely takes a stroll, or it pushes Jimmy Hendrix into the jazz orbit - Slater and his A-Team find ways of enjoying themselves without hurtling the music toward the outer limits. This is pure musical variety wrapped in an accessible musical language that basically works for both sides of the fence
Barry O'Sullivan
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Julian Banks Group - Agung (Yum Yum Tree Records)
This album features some of Australia’s finest jazz musicians collaborating with stellar Indonesian percussionist Cepi Kusmiadi on the Kendang Sunda. Kusmiadi’s bubbling magic on this beautiful traditional Indonesian percussion instrument creates the perfect bed for the modern grooves and melodic beauty of the Julian Banks Group’s original compositions. The band first started playing together at the Ubud Village Jazz Festival in 2015, and have made it a yearly endeavour to get together in Bali and make music. This album was largely recorded two days after the band members climbed the giant Gunung Agung volcano in Bali fuelling their creativity. Julian Banks’ invigorating compositions, combined with his distinctive and masterful saxophone playing, compliment the respective musicians impressive jazz chops, in hand with the Sandy Evans composition Euology for a friend , with its lush tenor, altered rhythm and distinctively Asian interpretation. James Hauptmann’s splashing cymbals collide with the Gamelan inspired sounds created by Cepi Kusmiadi on his kendang sunda, elevating the musical art of universal percussion to a level that forces it to not only be taken seriously, but to encourage an effort to discover more. The rhythm section is the backbone of this recording, shadowed by the heart and soul added by Julian Banks on his fluttering tenor. Melting colour and tonal depth throughout all the tracks is delivered from the pedal steel and bass guitar playing of James Gilligan. At all times the band maintains an egalitarian mindset, weaving textures with toe tapping rhythms, delivering a far too brief set of tunes which offer the listener a rewarding multicultural experience
Barry O'Sullivan
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Mezza/Ginsburg Ensemble - Convergence (Ozella OZO84CD)
Convergence is a musical conversation between a group of meritorious musicians including Vittorio Mezza a jazz pianist with strong classical roots and a love of Mediterranean life, and the South African born Australian based saxophonist Mark Ginsburg who has influences from his strong Jewish roots and an African heartbeat. Making music together is about allowing these musical contrasts to blend into something new, occasionally clashing and at times overlapping. In this session they are joined by a rhythm section consisting of Luca Bulgarelli on bass, Marcello Di Leonardo on drums and Fabian Hevia on percussion delivering a collection of ballads, slow-burning mood pieces and pulsating ensemble passages, mostly composed by Mezza with four contributions from Ginsburg. The two men like to tinker with the musical atoms, and sometimes subatomic particles, and for the most part they create successful explosions of musical harmonies that give the remaining improvisors something to dig into. The addition of Bel a cappella and some glorious choral and vocal arrangements from Judy Campbell with the smooth nightingale voice of Justine Bradley add huge atmospheric effect on several tracks. Ginsburg is a nimble player with a well-rounded, centred unique tone on his tenor. Just listen to the tracks Big Sea and Nostalgia to gain cognisance of his expertise. On the soprano saxophone he proves himself to be a gilt edged musician glowing with luminescence. This is best exemplified on his compositions For You as well as Common Purpose and on Mezza’s Affezioni and Solipsismo A Strati. The recording quality of this album is excellent with a good clear tone, timbre and a dynamic range on all the instruments and voice over the fourteen tracks. This a real bonus if your passion is brilliant ensemble playing and surprising arrangements infused with diaspora featuring excellent solos from a group of accomplished musicians
Barry O'Sullivan
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Jeremy Ledbetter Trio - Got a Light? (Alma Records ACD61582)
Rarely does one hear so much variety on a trio album. Enter the world of Toronto pianist Jeremy Ledbetter. The broad palette splayed across these nine pieces is a reflection of the pianist’s immersion in a number of musical cultures which includes Brazil, Cuba and Trinidad. Moreover, his musical roots as a classical pianist underpins his approach to playing, his undulating use of dynamics compositionally and his deft use of melody. It seems only appropriate that the only cover on the album is a piece by The Tragically Hip called ‘Gift Shop’. After the sensitive piano introduction stating the simple melody, the powerhouse rhythm section of Larnell Lewis, drums (Snarky Puppy) and Rich Brown, six string electric bass (Steve Coleman) explode the arrangement into fragments of rock whereby each freely and collectively pick up the pieces with group interplay until the trio arrives back at the point of departure before the solo piano retreats with a melodic decrescendo. The title track is one of the highlights. It’s unpredictable use of time and musical punctuation is dramatic to say the least. The intense storm that is Larnell Lewis’ thunderous drums alternatively lit by the splashes of the cymbals are matched only by Ledbetter’s virtuosic rippling right hand. The album is tempered by the velvety voice of Venezuelan singer Eliana Cuevas with a beautiful song called ‘Her New Wings’ about the time in a daughter’s life when it’s time to let go and discover the world. Listening to this album would be a good entree.
Frank Presley
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Tim Stevens Double Trio - with whom you can be who you are (Rufus RF148)
The arrival of a new recording from pianist /composer Tim Stevens is always an exciting event.Stevens isn't just a performer/composer, but a deep-thinker as well. He holds degrees in Music Performance ands undertook doctoral research on Melbourne’s Red Onion Jazz Band in 2000 graduating with the Doctorate of Philosophy from the Melbourne Conservatorium. With some of his original compositions he first recorded two CDs, King, Dude and Dunce (Newmarket, 1995) and Sudden in a Shaft of Sunlight (ABC Jazz, 1998) both of which are iconic Australian jazz albums.Despite his incredible performing capacity and résumé, Steven’s gifts have largely flown under the awards radar. This new recording has the potential to change that. The improvising trio meets the classical trio of strings and collaboration is the way forward to great things with the entire ensemble joining together supporting the piano melodies sumptuously and stylishly. The elements that shine through mostly are Steven’s accomplished compositional ability and his commitment to integrity in performance. Tracks like m.k., a through-composed structure , m.i. and the sixteen minute m.b. (alternating variations) present serene and sometimes sprightly textures utilising harmonic contours from the strings, with the piano trio supporting floating melodies. These compositions are a tour de force standout, with complexity and energy in each passing bar, the trios exchanging movements, while lines become balanced indirect melodies, before handing the baton off to the piano, bass (Marty Holoubek) and drums (Tony Floyd). All of Tim Steven’s past work has been thoughtfully rendered and artistically significant, but this recording of exceptional quality may just be his masterpiece and one that moves him closer to the jazz pantheon
Barry O'Sullivan
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John Pittman - Kinship (Slammin Media SMO001)
If I was to point to an Australian trumpeter whom I could compare John Pittman, it would be Todd Hardy. John Pittman is a Toronto based trumpeter, composer and educator and this is his first album as a leader however he has recorded with the New Orleans influenced The Heavyweights Brass Band. All but two of these eight pieces were penned by Pittman at various stages of his relatively short career since being named the 2007 Schirmer Prize Winner at the prestigious Eastman School of Music. Pittman is one of those rare talents who has command of various styles both from the perspective of his playing and composing and Kinship clearly is reflective of that. The opener ‘Ties that Bind’ is reminiscent of early 1960’s Miles when Tony Williams drove the dynamic forces. ‘For Siobhan’ has a heavy backbeat courtesy of drummer Curtis Nowosad but its contemporary credentials are cleverly counter-balanced by a fiery solo from Pittman and a Mike Downes bass solo that tells a compelling story of his high end articulation and imagination. ‘Homio-stasis’ has that Chet Baker/Gerry Mulligan flavour courtesy of Shirantha Beddage’s baritone and an egalitarian arrangement. Stevie Wonder’s ‘As’ has a sweaty New Orleans second line funky aura, overlayed by Pittman’s fat tone and white hot solo. The most innovative piece is the Black Eyed Peas hit ‘Where is the Love’. Once again Pittman’s arrangement masterfully counter-balances free flowing improvisation with the sweet popcorn of Justin Timberlake’s irresistible melody and a swinging passage from pianist Jeff McLeod
Frank Presley
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Alex Stuart - Aftermath (Jazz Family JF037)
Virtuoso guitarist Alex Stuart’s music is influenced by modern jazz, indie music from the Dirty Projectors, the avant-garde of Björk and rock music from Grizzly Bear. After relocating to Paris in 2005 Stuart recorded three albums, won the jury prize at the Jazz à Juan International Jazz Festival and was nominated for the Freedman Jazz Fellowship back in Australia. His latest recording enlists the talent of a stellar band featuring Irving Acao on saxophone and keyboards, Arno de Casanove on trumpet voice and keyboards, Ouriel Ellert on bass, Antoine Banville on drums and Nicolas Dri on organ, Fender Rhodes and the not often heard Guitaret. Their splendid musicianship complements Stuart’s uniquely recognisable guitar to perfection resulting in a masterclass in how to build drama, tension and harmonic heaven with six musicians and no discernible or noticeable overdubs. Favourite tracks The Invisible Force and An Afternoon With Kiefer are haunting semi-rock ballads with de Casanove’s voice and trumpet adding atmosphere and depth to the composition. There’s not a dud moment during the entire fifty-two minute playing time resulting in some really great tunes with infectious beats and rhythms from Ellert and Banville and concise solos especially from de Casanove on trumpet and Acao on saxophone. With lots of call and response and counterpoint in the arrangements and an atmosphere of passion and joie de vivre with respect for tradition throughout, combined with a future-facing vibe, what more could one ask for? This is a superb recording from which fans of contemporary improvisation will derive much audio pleasure
Barry O'Sullivan
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Daniel Susnjar Afro Peruvian Group - Spark (DSUS 0003)
The Daniel Susnjar Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group is an award-winning seven piece ensemble that plays original compositions influenced by Afro-Peruvian rhythms and fresh, unique arrangements of traditional Peruvian folk songs. Founded in Miami in 2011 and driven by Susnjar's extensive touring and research in Peru, USA and the Caribbean, culminating in a Doctoral drumming dissertation, the ensemble has continually pushed forward with innovative ways to express artistic sensibilities from the Afro-Peruvian and jazz musical traditions.Following on from their previous albums, Su Su Nje and Moth to a Flame, their third album showcases the ensemble performing live to an in-studio audience on original compositions reflecting important themes found in Peruvian culture including family, hope, resilience and the celebration of life. This is an album that straddles jazz and Afro - Peruvian beat in an elegant push and pull that sometimes edges close to the former, sometimes wanders closer to the latter and often sits joyfully in the middle. The hybrid tone of the band is hugely important to the mix, with the Afro - Peruvian beat of Susnjar’s drumming balanced by the more classical jazz texture of Harry Mitchell’s piano, Jeremy Thomson’s guitar licks and the horns of Ricki Mallet (trumpet) and Luke Minness (saxophone). Susnjar is the unequivocal star of Spark wallowing in the wonderful freedom of rhythmic expression. His unique drumming style rarely resorts to repetition as it alternately responds to and drives changes in the music. The result is a percussive masterclass. What saves Spark from being an album uniquely for drum nerds is Susnjar’s songwriting skills which make the complex sound effortless, creating something intricate and expansive, but never contrived or academic. Rarely has percussive innovation sounded this downright satisfying
Barry O'Sullivan
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John Coltrane and his Band - Both directions at once: The lost album (Impulse 49299)
As the legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins so rightly put it, ‘This is like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid’. The musical implications of this album, the original compositions, the arrangements, the band, 1963 the year it was recorded, all amount to a rediscovery and re-contextualization of one of the most important jazz musicians of our time
On this album, there are two completely unknown and never-heard-before originals played on soprano sax: Untitled original 11383 and Untitled original 11386. 11383 features an arco bass solo by Jimmy Garrison, a relative rarity, and 11386 marks a significant structural change for the quartet, in that the players keep returning to the theme between solos. In addition One up one down (released previously only on a bootleg recording from Birdland Records) is heard here as a studio recording for the first and only time. It contains a fascinating exchange between the drummer Elvin Jones and Coltrane
This studio session also yielded Coltrane’s first recording of Nature boy which he would record again in 1965. The two versions differ greatly. Intriguingly, Coltrane approaches this present version as a tight and solo-less trio with McCoy Tyner laying out. Also on the album is Vilia from Franz Lehár’s operetta The merry widow, popularised by clarinetist Artie Shaw’s big band in 1939. Coltrane approaches this composition with a light-hearted effect, first on tenor and then, more convincingly, on the soprano
Impressions, one of Coltrane’s most famous and oft-recorded compositions, is played here by the piano-less trio. It’s one of the more interesting aspects of this session and reflects the harmonic possibilities that Coltrane was known to be discussing regularly around this time with Ornette Coleman. It’s interesting to note that Coltrane only attempted this tune in the studio a few times and these rediscovered four takes, by all indications, are the last time he ever recorded the tune
As night fell on that recording session, the master tapes were shelved with other Impulse sessions. Coltrane packed his horn and left with the rest of the quartet.What happened to these recordings after that point is partly conjecture based on the habits of Coltrane and his label. We do know that they were never mixed or mastered into an album and there was no paperwork reflecting a plan to release the music. In multiple interviews the producer Van Gelder maintained that, after Coltrane’s death in July 1967, all master tapes in his possession were retrieved by Impulse and ended up in a storage facility. In the early 1970s, as part of a general cost-cutting effort, reel after reel of precious music was discarded to reduce storage fees. These tapes survived due to another privilege that Coltrane enjoyed at Impulse. After each session he received seven-inch tape reels to take home for review. Some he shared with Naima his wife and it’s these mono audition reels, in good shape for plastic and oxide ribbon more than 55 years old, that have delivered to jazz fans historical music that would have been lost forever
This album is a major addition to the Coltrane catalogue and the most important jazz discovery in recent years
Barry O'Sullivan
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Hashima - The Haywain (Metropolis Music Company CD074)
For me, Belgrade was an unlikely focal point for jazz. Brainchild of guitarist Igor Miskovic, Hashima is a Belgrade based quartet with their second album attracting serious international attention. I am using my newly minted phrase ‘horror jazz’ as a term of endearment to describe this album as a shuddering triumph. Taking inspiration from the Serbian classical composer Vasilije Mokranjac and Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘The Haywain Triptych’ (Museo del Prado), these five original pieces are a confronting work that shocks, scares then lulls you into a state of serene relief with the use of haunting moments of silence before jolting your senses into a super groove. Screaming guitar, wailing saxophone, thunderous bass and thrashing cymbals with the addition of special guest Portuguese trumpeter Susan Santos bring this music from aural temptation to theatrical ‘fright night’ using elements of Balkan folk, Pink Floyd and Croatian Punk tempered wonderfully by underscored moments of lucid jazz sensibility. Yes the arrangements make for glorious suspense but the exceptional musicianship along with enlightened production, that somehow make the soloists stand out like illuminated silhouettes in the night, all combine to elevate this album into masterpiece territory. If I had to reluctantly choose a highlight it would be ‘Ray of the Microcosm’ inspired by Bosch’s left panel where man is created, portrayed by the stark echoes of Miskovic’s single plucked strings before Todorovic’s arco bass brews up a storm when mankind falls into sin, characterised by Srdan Mijalkovic’s pensive, yet tempestuous tenor sax
Frank Presley
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Adrean Farrugia And Joel Frahm - Blued Dharma (GB Records GBCD1804)
The last time I heard a saxophone/piano duo sound as good as this was the album Dave Liebman and Mike Nock released in 2007 entitled Duologue. This album sees Toronto based pianist Adrean Farrugia team up with New York tenor stalwart Joel Frahm. Like Duologue, this album also features two jazz standards, Ray Nobles well worn Cherokee and the Kern/Hammerstein Showboat classic Nobody Else but Me. In fact the musical rapor is so strong on Cherokee that two takes are included. The five other originals are provided by the pianist whose soulful writing is matched by his melodic stylings as an improviser. Both players timing is akin to two friends enjoying conversation and finishing each other’s sentence. For me there are several highlights. Farrugia’s title track Blued Dharma a great example of the simpatico between these artists. The pianist allows Frahm’s tenor to soar into cosmic territory whilst always maintaining the orderly melody. Gospell has a spiritual feel as Farrugia leads the tenor on a path of righteousness that is later reconciled back to the soulful melody line. Both takes on the favourite Cherokee find the piece cleverly and harmonically deconstructed by Farrugia complete with dissonant edges but neither interpretation loses its fundamental resemblance to Noble’s evergreen composition. Cool Beans kindles Horace Silver Blue Note memories. Farrugia with a heavy left handed bass line setting a platform for Frahm’s crisp utterances sending sparks flying back for Farrugia to launch into his own series of ascending and descending rapids over the deep undercurrent
Frank Presley
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Harley Card - The Greatest Invention (DYM 003)
Those of us who have enjoyed the hybrid blend of guitarist James Muller with Will Vinson’s alto will know just how effective the guitar and saxophone are as lead instruments in front of the traditional piano, bass, drums trio. In this recording Toronto guitarist Harley Card and fellow Torontonian David French (here playing tenor saxophone) form textures just as intricate in front of the trio made up of Matt Newton piano, Jon Maharaj bass and Ethan Ardelli drums
Lyrical improvisations are woven through thoughtful arrangements of quite minimalistic compositions in terms of melody. Elsewhere, periods of elegance and understated swing, poignantly punctuate what is an overall tasteful contemporary jazz guitar release worthy of repeat listening. Alternatively if you happen to be in Toronto, in an unbridled live setting, I’d imagine the repetition in some of these pieces would allow them to be ideal vehicles in a pressure cooker jam session
The title track’s inspiration comes from a book written by Ben Irvin called Einstein and the Art of Mindful Cycling. For me this is the highlight track, especially in terms of intense interactions bridged by chamber-like passages of Jon Maharaj’s arco bass. This arrangement seems to inhale and exhale generating forward momentum between piano, saxophone and guitar with the propulsion provided by the broad bass buttresses. Then Ethan Ardelli’s thunderous drum solo emerges before the invention takes shape in the form of Card’s oblique yet appealing improvisation, devoid of unnecessary razzle dazzle. Here is a talent worthy of wider recognition
Frank Presley
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Harry Mitchell Group - Don’t Stop Here (https://harrymitchellpianist.bandcamp.com)
Harry Mitchell has progressively been evolving as a pianist, composer and band leader since he was thirteen. As a follow-up to his self titled debut album on his second release he has again assembled his dream team of musicians from Perth, saxophonist Jamie Oehlers, drummer Daniel Susnjar, guitarist Jeremy Thompson and the bassist Karl Florisson all of whom have their own strong musical voices. Mitchell has a definite vision for his music, one that is tightly arranged but also leaves enough room for inspired soloing. The result is a very clean post hard bop sound that utilises tenor saxophonist Oehlers and drummer Susnjar to solid effect coupled with Mitchell’s ability to prepare and maintain a soft ground upon which the group can build its harmonic architecture. The stylish and subtle guitar underplaying of Jeremy Thompson is augmented with his impressive solos on Transit, Neurosis and Don’t Stop Here and throughout Jamie Oehler’s saxophone playing is always impressive either blowing hard or just cruising alongside of Mitchell’s deft pianoforte. Harry Mitchell is finding his voice on this outing and that voice has something worth saying and listening to
Barry O’Sullivan
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Paul Derricott's Coast Band - Coast (AAC084)
The ensemble Coast was formed with the mission statement of exploring complex rhythmic structures and textures in a jazz and improvising manner.Their recently released self titled debut album is high in energy and full of dynamic instrumentals, sparkling in the variety of its timbres and the diversity of its colours. The title takes on an additional meaning in this context, because it translates the relationship that this album bears to the sound source - ie the waters of the shorelines of Australia. On the aptly titled tracks, Tide, Black Line and White Water, Peter Koopman’s guitar playing is texturally dominant but it does marry harmoniously with Michael Avgenicos’s saxophone and Shannon Stitts’ keyboard playing, deftly juxtaposing electronica, funk, jazz, and prog rock.Pulsating like some mysteriously precise metronome, one completely free of the rigidity that belongs to merely functional time, is the imprint of Paul Derricott’s drums, a true fist of iron inside this records’ velvet glove. But there's no grandstanding in this team effort. Each member, with the inspired addition of Giorgio Rojas on congas on favourite track Dance 35, equally contributes to the rhythmic and harmonic textures, thus creating an impressive panoply packed with musical bravura
Barry O’Sullivan
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Mat Jodrell - Echoes of Harlem (Nicholas Records, 999466)
Australian trumpeter and composer Mat Jodrell on his latest recording echoes the music of one of New York City's most vibrant and culturally diverse areas, Harlem. Jodrell draws on the rich heritage of Harlem’s music with the title tune composed by one of the area's most famous inhabitants, Duke Ellington, as well as performing his own original compositions. In the stellar company of three of New York’s finest jazz exponents, pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Lewis Nash, the recording delivers an eclectic mix of the old and the new all centred around the glorious sounds that emanate from Jodrell’s trumpet and fluegelhorn. Old favourites I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues and East of The Sun are joyously recreated with flair alongside an Ennio Moricone soundtrack, the Jimmy Rowles masterpiece The Peacocks and tunes from Mulgrew Miller and Harold Mabern that allow the band to fully extend and shine. There’s some astounding drumming from Lewis Nash, and Frank Kimbrough deftly displays why he’s Jazz Orchestra leader Maria Schneider’s preferred “go to” man for piano, while throughout Jay Anderson’s bass is sensitive, warm and swinging. It’s an all-star package, beautifully mixed and mastered, aptly showcasing Jodrell’s love of the music and his amazing talent
Barry O’Sullivan
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Evan Harris - Skylines (54 Records, CD 5404)
This debut recording from the New York based Australian saxophonist displays his exceptional prowess as a tenor player, composer, arranger and band leader. Beautifully recorded by Mike Marciano at Systems Two Studios in Brooklyn the album glides through a palette of styles and subdued colours delivering far more than just the greys and browns encountered on initial listening. From the breezy Gunderman and Spring Song to the hard swinging Equilibrium, Harris is in the solid company of some well chosen sidemen.These include the expat Australians, pianist Sean Wayland and bassist Des White, ex London alto saxophonist Will Vinson and New York based German drummer Jochen Rueckert. Delving deeper, one discovers Harris delivering some highly imaginative playing and sparkling improvisations with clear unhurried tenor sax notes. Every player is equally relevant here and adds a personal touch leading to a unique and adventurous offering. While at times the melodies can become less memorable and can tend to blend into each other in an inconsequential way, the band's level of musicianship remains consistently high consciously constructing some beautiful dreamy soundscapes.The vignette improvisations on Skylines at Sunrise and Skylines at Sunset are perfect examples. But more importantly, what stands out is a smart and stimulating recording that bodes well for the future of its young leader
Barry O’Sullivan
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Chris Platt Trio - Sky Glow (MAPL Independent)
Sky Glow is the debut release from Toronto based guitarist Chris Platt and his trio of Phill Albert bass and Robin Claxton drums. Reflective and at times intensively introspective the seven track album is a showcase for his compositional skills as much as his technical facility. Initially inspired by Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Derek Trucks, Platt completed his degree in jazz studies at the University of Toronto with such pedigree as Mike Murley, Kelly Jefferson and Chase Sanborn. ‘No More’ is the melodic highlight of the recording. Taken at a slow strolling pace, Platt overlays a melancholy Lenny Breau ‘Canadian Country’ influenced melody over the top of his own rhythm guitar undercurrent, while Albert’s bass states the simple two note bass-line and Claxton’s brushes simmer away underneath. ‘Platter’ is a nod to his blues heroes. It punctuates alternatively with full stops and swinging gear shifts creating foot-tapping moments of up-tempo bop and in-the-pocket groove. The title track is a mellow piece with echoes of Jim Hall. Platt plays with an understanding of dynamics that belies his years. No more is this evident than on the lyrical ‘Sky Glow’ where his elegant restraint, use of space, splashes of colour and interplay with bass and drums are at the forefront. Albert takes an unhurried and harmonically thoughtful solo on bass. Homage has certainly been paid to the guitar trio lineage with this album that forms the basis of a platform for Platt to continue to develop his own style
Frank Presley
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Crump Cake Orchestra - Copy Copy (Crumpcakeorchestra.com)
“The Jazz Police is someone who is complaining, complaining all the time”. That spoken word from the title track appears about two minutes into this disc and acts like a red flag to the establishment. The sound of this twenty piece orchestra is a kind of 21st Century re-imagining of the Daly-Wilson Big Band who, in the 1970’s, were also entertaining on the edge of jazz. Inspired by Robert Glasper and Duke Ellington, Adelaide based orchestrator and arranger, Evan Bassani has re-arranged music by the Adelaide electro duo voiceROM. The fourteen tracks are punctuated by a number of short textural thresholds which serve to change your focus from quirky theme to musical oddity. There is plenty of funk and rhythmic drive in these mostly uptempo pieces and the dynamism of the arrangements make maximum use of the various horn sections. The solos are infrequent but satisfying while there is plenty of fun and humour especially in the spoken word and voice manipulation. The highlight is a two part piece ‘Ballad of one of the trumpet players from the Shaolin Afronauts’. The first part starts with a simple snare beat and solo trumpet stating the melody over a sustained synthesizer before the full trumpet and trombone sections join. The second part lifts the tempo and includes the whole orchestra channeling a glorious Stevie Wonder Master Blaster moment. The piece reaches its climax with Maynard Fergusonesque screaming trumpets. No wonder this orchestra was a hit at the 2012 Adelaide Fringe Festival.
Frank Presley
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Speedball - We Have Moved (Core Records 00135)
Speedball is a quintet formed in Perth seventeen years ago with a stellar lineup. The members now mostly live in Melbourne now, thus the title.The three central voices of the recording are Carl Mackey’s saxophone,Mat Jodrell’s trumpet and the piano of Grant Windsor which are complemented by the exquisite work from drummer Daniel Susnjar and the exceptional work of Australia’s busiest bassist Sam Anning. A standout feature of the recording immediately noticeable is the wonderful sound captured which allows every instrument to be heard in a spacious almost tactile quality.The drums benefit most from this and Susnjar is an energetically lyrical master of playing them with vitality and a seemingly restless energy.Standout tracks include Cleveland Steamer and Gospel with the horns of Jodrell and Mackey. They are both players of magnitude and enormous talent sharing a twenty year history of performance, teaching and touring together, reflecting their influences from Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw.Pianist Grant Windsor continues to stun the world with his skills as a pianist, composer and arranger on this recording and no doubt his level of input contributes to it becoming the masterpiece it is
Barry O’Sullivan
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Andrew Dickeson Quartet - Is That So (Independent)
This could have been an entirely different recording altogether.Dickeson had perviously conceived it as a project with the hard bop American pianist Harold Mabern in mind when he was to be touring Australia. However, circumstances brought Eric Alexander and his tenor on board instead delivering a distinct sound that doesn't overly rely on any one influence. What a bonus that proved to be with Dickeson inspirationally engaging Canberra based pianist Wayne Kelly and old mate Ashley Turner on double bass as well, with himself on drums completing a pretty tight outfit.Their playing together is stellar. Opening with the rarely heard Duke Pearson title track, they dance and cook their way through a repertoire that reinterprets classic tunes from the Great American Songbook- George Gershwin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Rodgers and Hammerstein - and the Brazilian composer Roberto Menescal concluding the session with a bluesy original from Alexander.Standout tracks include Bronislaw Kaper’s Invitation and Menescal’s Little Boat, both featuring great solos from Kelly and Alexander. An all analog, all valve, minimum signal path recording magnificently captured by engineer Phil Punch creating a sonic masterpiece of straightforward hard bop jazz.
Barry O’Sullivan
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Thierry Fossemalle Trio - Actual Asset (Independent www.thierryfossmalle.net)
Double bassist Thierry Fossemalle appears in his debut as a leader on an outstanding trio album showcasing his own virtuosity with the talents of Steve Russell (piano) and David Sanders(drums) . Performing all of Fossemalle’s compositions in a traditional acoustic jazz trio format, the fiery and sometimes hectic improvisations in this session album indicate that the band was ready for a convincing outing. Everything you want from a jazz trio recording is present here - electricity, pacing, innovation, and interplay - with Fossemalle offering his own personal energy in his robust right hand strumming throughout each track. His conception of time and space is uniquely compatible with the highly gifted pianist Steve Russel’s vision of the same; and there’s a certain radiant tonality to the playing of David Sanders which complements the other band members perfectly. It’s a pity Fossemalle doesn’t allow himself more opportunities on the outing to showcase his talents solo. The standout tunes, including the title track Actual Asset, Big Pam and the easier paced Simple Pleasures are mere gems in a vault of superbly played originals from a straight forward Australian trio jazz at its finest

Barry O’Sullivan
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Justin Gray and Synthesis - New Horizons (Justingraysynthesis.com)
Toronto based artist Justin Gray may not be widely known to Australian audiences but some of his collaborators over the years are well known down-under. Greg Osby and Ingrid Jensen need no introduction while tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby recorded with our own, the late David Ades in Brooklyn back in 2011. Like our own cross cultural explorers Matt Keegan and Sandy Evans, the bassist and composer Justin Gray also shares a passion for the fusion of Indian classical styles with jazz. So intense is that passion, that in 2010 he co-created an instrument with a sound that seamlessly straddles both genres without compromise. As the sole practitioner of this instrument, his multi-stringed fretless bass veena coalesces the electric bass tradition of Pastorius with the humming resonance and agility of the vichitra veena. Underpinning the sophistication of the project is the addition of the Venuti String Quartet which provides a glorious, almost orchestral unison ride for Gray to state the raga and carnatic melodies against the deep grooves of drummer Derek Gray and Ed Hanley’s tabla. All these memorable melodies are from the pen of the bassist. The purity of tone of this instrument is at its crystalline best on ‘Break of Dawn’ when the strings lay off and Alam Khan joins the party on sarod but its Gray’s virtuosity which compels the listener to the rotational symmetry of the plucked drone strings, the strummed body strings and the remaining four conventional fretless bass strings. This is an outstanding debut and a must listen for indo-jazz fans
Frank Presley
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The Australian National Jazz Orchestra - Child’s Play (54 Records, CD 5403)
The Australian Jazz Orchestra made its debut performance at the inaugural Sydney Conservatorium International Jazz Festival Music Workshop. Their final concert performance was recorded live and is now released on the non-profit, peer-reviewed music label 54 Records, launched in 2017 by musician /educator David Theak. It features a dazzling line-up of Australian jazz talent with cameos from Mat Jodrell on trumpet, Dave Panichi on lead trombone, James Muller on guitar, Roger Manins on tenor saxophone and Hugh Barrett on piano. Five of the six tracks are new works by the Melbourne based composer Nick Mulder, who also conducts, and the sixth is the alluring Duke Ellington composition Prelude To A Kiss. The ensemble of cutting-edge musicians is exemplary, the album's running time and recording quality more than acceptable capturing perfectly the magic of that performance which I had the enjoyment of attending. If one track was to stand out perhaps it would be A Blue Interlude with the stunning featured trumpet playing of Mat Jodrell along with the hearty tenor saxophone of Roger Manins. The title track, Child’s Play, is Muller’s turn to shine and what a star guitarist he is. All sparkle and polished technique of a world-class standard. Awesome stuff indeed! But this recording is not all about flashy solos, but more about the way that they help to shape the music, together with an extraordinary ensemble of talented players that is truly a fusion of contemporary big band music, jazz orchestra, and modern jazz
Barry O’Sullivan
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Aaron McCoullough Quartet - Provenience (www.aaronmccoullough.com)
The focus of Provenience is embedded in a reflection upon and a rediscovery of specific localities of the Illawarra region in New South Wales, Australia. The tunes, written by drum master/composer Aaron McCoullough, represent his personal responses to growing up there and are named after places and localities that he has a special affinity with. Throughout all tracks the exemplary guitar playing of Hugh Stuckey is a standout as each track pursues its own distinctive path. A tune named after Bombo beach (a magical location) provides the perfect vehicle for the steadfast prowess of pianism displayed by James Bowers whose extended solo on this track is a feature of the album. McCoullough is generous with the amount of space he provides these musicians to shine in allowing them to freely stretch their improvisations alongside his technically superb drumming skills which maintain perfect tempos throughout. He is a true master of form. New York bassist Marty Holoubek engages beautifully gentle bass playing giving inconceivably cosmic atmosphere to the album. This is most notable on Mystics named after a beach in the Illawarra which is an all-time favourite with locals. From start to finish perfection reigns on this album with every number worthy of the endorsement Shortcomings? To state the case as clearly as possible, there are none. This album is a class act with some first rate musicianship
Barry O’Sullivan
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Nick Maclean Quartet - Rites of Ascension (Browntasaurus NCC-1701K)
This twenty-something Toronto based pianist will be largely unknown to Australian audiences, but with albums like this along with his other project ‘Snaggle’ likened to Snarky Puppy, Maclean’s trajectory can only be upward. Raised in Ottawa, and inspired by Fats Waller and Benny Goodman records, he was later influenced heavily by Herbie Hancock’s music, and, it seems, his philosophy, which are major inspirations on this album. Personal expression and fun are the hallmarks of Nick Maclean’s music and both are in abundance here. The overly familiar ‘Cantaloupe Island’ opens the album but Maclean’s arrangement uses chromatic colours to put his stamp on the Hancock hit. Trumpeter Brownman Ali, with his crystalline tone, controlled vibrato and precise facility tips his hat to Hubbard while accelerating ‘Driftin’ into double time. ‘One Finger Snap’ then follows at a pace that requires two fingers snapping. Samples of Hancock voicing wisdom are used to colour some Maclean original’s which allow the album to ascend from a platform of the past into the music of tomorrow. The highlight is the contribution from Ali ‘Madness of Nero’ which seems to encompass all the stylistic elements of the album into one piece including samples from philosopher Christopher Hitchens. The pair open in unison over a Tyler Goertzen’s backbeat, while Maclean’s block chords are utilised heavily in solo adding to the madness. Ali’s fleeting inventions are constructed to perfection and build to climax before he again responds musically to Hitchen’s take on the madness of power. Then the funk sets up a second and final climax.
Peter Wockner
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Common Quartet - The Hive (www.commonquartet.com)
Like our own Sandy Evans, the saxophonist and leader of this Brooklyn based quartet Seth Trachy, is a student of Indian Classical music. His musical explorations don’t end there though. He has a fascination with the Pygmy music of Cameroon along with Afro-Peruvian music. While those influences are abiding, their imprint on this music is only subtle, for this recording is steeped in the tradition of hard-bop. Common by name but hardly by nature, CQ’s music is far from common. Each of the members (with origins from Chile, Israel, Colorado and North Carolina) contribute seven of the nine original offerings. The standards, Coltrane’s ‘Lazybird’ and Parker’s ‘Big Foot’ are ideal showcases for the saxophone led quartet. The quartet is augmented twice by ex-Paul Motian guitarist Steve Cardenas. It’s a class outing. The band plays as an ensemble, within themselves, never over-cooking but with elegant restraint and the arrangements complement this feel. Command and authority are saved for the up-tempo pieces but one gets the feeling there is always fuel left in the tank. One of the highlights is a piece from the Israeli pianist Nitzan Gavrieli entitled ‘Traffic’. The head is full of punctuation from the band before they lay off and allow Gavrieli the solo space to bring the traffic scene to life with darting, shifting, impatient horn sounds. The band re-enters with forward momentum again and Trachy’s tenor provides further musical onomatopoeia on the traffic theme. The piece peaks with Wyatt’s drum solo and equal doses of punctuation
Frank Presley
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Patti Austin and James Morrison - Ella and Louis (ABC 6483)
James Morrison is, by anyone’s standards, a virtuoso in the true sense of the word.Besides the trumpet, this multi-instrumentalist also plays piano, all the brass, saxophones and the double bass.He deftly displays his prowess on the trumpet and trombone on this newly released double CD with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the American vocalist Patti Austin.The ensemble deliver a warm celebration of the iconic duet recordings of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong recorded last year at The Melbourne International Jazz Festival before a live audience.Backing Morrison and Austin and the Orchestra are the outstanding performances of his band musicians, Jake Barden - saxophone,Mark Fitzgibbon - piano,William Morrison - guitar, Harry Morrison - bass and Patrick Danao - drums.Most of the Ella and Louis favourites are included (despite some glaring omissions - (e.g They Can’t Take That Away From Me and Cheek To Cheek ) and these are given sparkling new arrangements with slight hints to the original recordings.Ella and Louis weren’t blessed with the luxurious full sound that this Orchestra provides with Benjamin Northey at the helm so maybe it is best to listen to this album for what it is. A maestro trumpet player alongside a quintessential and sassy jazz singer accompanied by a great orchestra and a standout band rather than just another tribute album.With that criteria it scores extremely well
Barry O’Sullivan
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John Scurry's Reverse Swing - Post Matinée (LSR20175)
This new release comprises of freshly minted original songs from the Australian guitarist John Scurr a stalwart of the Swing and Trad jazz scene in for over five decades.John is also a renowned visual artist and teacher and has performed at most major jazz festivals throughout Australia and Europe as a musician and his paintings have been exhibited at major galleries in Victoria and New South Wales - including the superb cover image of this CD.Throughout this recording his compositions allow his musical colleagues an opportunity to shine and improvise and that they do with style and panache.Melbourne based vocalist Shelly Scown appears on four tracks as does National Jazz Award winner James Macaulay playing trombone on several of the other.There’s also some fun and dexterous trumpet playing from Eugene Ball alongside the accomplished guitar of Scurry and Matt Boden’s gleefully played piano. Howard Cairns is marvellous on the double bass and English concertina and the clarinet of Michael McQuaid and saxophone of Phil Noy are a joy to hear. They’re all driven along by the exemplary percussion and drums of Danny Fischer.It’s a fun album that creates an instant party atmosphere of nostalgic style jazz but with all new compositions that you can dance to or just enjoy in the background as rich memories from less hectic days
Barry O’Sullivan
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Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau - Nearness (Nonesuch Records 7559-79456-0 )
Released to coincide with their world tour of 2016 and their performances at various venues in Australia, this perfect musical pairing of two of the most prominent and highly respected improvising virtuoso performers in Jazz today, is in fact their first duo recording. Brad Mehldau first came to prominence as a member Joshua Redman's quartet in the 1990s before becoming a bandleader himself. The pair reunited in 2010 when Redman was featured on Mehldau's album Highway Rider. In 2013, Mehldau was featured as a performer and producer on Redman's recording Walking Shadows.Nearness features live performances captured during a previous 2011 European tour, comprising of three original tracks and three familiar jazz standards. There is a meticulousness to the continuous process of abstraction that Mehldau applies to a tune with a certain density of information. This can be followed by a stripped down emotionally direct interpretation of a ballad that comes from nowhere and knocks the wind out of you with its simplicity and clarity. Highlights of the recording are a sixteen minute rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s The Nearness of You which displays Mehldau’s harmonic skills with a particularly skilful unaccompanied break from Redman on tenor sax. Another highlight is their interpretation of the Mehldau composition Old West with Redman’s dexterity and lyricism on soprano saxophone a sheer joy to listen to. On all of the tracks there are musically intelligent conversations between two stellar artists with Redman chasing the tune while Mehldau deconstructs the harmony and rhythm. As performers their virtuosity is unparalleled and highly recommended listening.
Barry O’Sullivan
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