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Andrew Robertson - Our Man in Moss Vale
Allira Wilson, Harry Mitchell, Ben Vanderwal, Karl Florisson - I Am Like the Rain
Jamie Pregnell - Sleepy Town
Stefano Rocco Quartet - A New Night, A New Day
Simon Vincent's The Occasional Trio - Live in Berlin
Tunetown - There from Here
Mike Nock, Hamish Stuart, Julien Wilson and Jonathon Zwartz - This World
Jason Bruer and Hammerhead - Turning Point
Jacques Kuba Seguin – Migrations
Phil Slater - The Dark Pattern
Sean Foran & Stuart McCallum – Counterpart
Surefire Sweat - Surefire Sweat
Harry Tinney Quartet – Kingsnake
Michael Davidson Dan Fortin - Clock Radio
Dave Young - Lotus Blossom
Nic Vardanega - Point in Time
Lachy Hamilton - Alchemy
Gregory Porter - One Night Only
Keith Jarrett - La Fenice
The Kenny Barron Quintet - Concentric Circles
Tom Noonan - Pas de deux
Moster! - States of Minds
Bagland - Cirkel
Octave Inc
Julian Banks Group - Agung
Mezza/Ginsburg Ensemble - Convergence
Jeremy Ledbetter Trio - Got a Light?

2018 ARCHIVES:

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
 
Andrew Robertson - Our Man in Moss Vale (andrewrobertsonjazz.bandcamp.com)
Andrew Robertson steps out of the shadows on his debut album as a leader with music that gives you enough rope to wander and get your chores done, but holds you always in its easeful sway as the world is in free-fall. Accompanied by a top shelf rhythm section anchored by the swing of John Harkin’s piano, Andrew Dickeson’s precise drumming and Brendan Clark’s distinct acoustic bass playing and four string players, the delicacy of every track naturally takes you into its space then releases you onto the next till you feel, not exhausted like your current state of being, but relaxed without effort, not needing to know the song titles or have them resting on the tip of your tongue. Highlights? There are many in the sixty-seven minutes of classic jazz standards plus two originals. Stardust, After You’ve Gone, a tour de force rendition of Pure Imagination, plus the trumpet/flugelhorn playing of his guest Simon Ferenci, just to name a few. Continuity is a word that comes to mind in describing this long-awaited effort. With the strong foundation, Robertson is provided with the space needed to confidently let musicality flow through his veins and into his numerous instruments. He chooses not to play it big and bold, instead going deeper inside himself and bearing a more sensitive soul, as well at times going outside the box to reach the emotions he is projecting, at all times prioritising melody and vibe.
Barry O'Sullivan
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Allira Wilson, Harry Mitchell, Ben Vanderwal, Karl Florisson - I Am Like the Rain. The Music of Paul Simon (ABC Music 0719192)
On I Am Like the Rain, a quartet of some of Australia’s most gifted jazz artists have reimagined a tasteful selection of the iconic works of the legendary singer/songwriter Paul Simon. The career-spanning set gathers together the pick of Paul Simon's solo career, sprinkled with another two classic songs he wrote with Art Garfunkel. The songs gathered here only hint at the highlights of a career that stretches back over half a century. They do, however, display the full virtuosity and dazzling scope of the music of the one and only. After the duo split, Paul continued to do the right thing by Columbia and his fans, releasing album after astonishingly successful album containing some iconic gems. A hand picked, inspired collection of these gems has been polished and enhanced with new life by the brilliant arrangements of Harry Mitchell and Ben Vanderwal,who are also musical members of the stellar quartet. Paired with the consistently reliant and expertly realised virtuosity of Karl Florisson’s base playing and Allira Wilson’s inspired vocal phrasing, the two guest guitarists, Carl Morgan and Harry Winton, subtly shimmer as the group progress through an impressive album of favourite Simon tunes. Wilson delivers "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” as if it were her very own tune. She owns it, from start to finish, sung with such heart and poetic charm. Harry Mitchell’s piano solos frame the melodic spirit of the recording, updating it without making it sound new. Given that we are all prone to some degree of emotional malaise at one time or another, as these days take on the length of months and 2020 becomes a year we all hope to forget but know we never will, I Am Like The Rain serves as a warm, encouraging, uplifting flashback.
Barry O'Sullivan
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Jamie Pregnell - Sleepy Town (Independent JP_20201)
Jamie Pregnell is a guitarist and composer based in Hobart, Tasmania. His album of seven original jazz compositions is an all star line up with Julien Wilson on sax, Sam Anning on bass and Ben Vanderwal on drums. Recorded in Victoria and mastered in New York, it’s endearing features are tight interplay between Pregnell and the band. Pregnell was the recipient of an Australia Council personal development grant to undergo a twelve month mentorship in jazz guitar with James Muller, whose musical influence is apparent. As with Muller, Pregnell’s guitar technique’s ability to convey the expressiveness of a good musical storyteller is quite evident. However, there are plenty of opportunities for all members to shine. The trio drifts from one thing to another as the session ambles along, with Pregnell alternating his string-plucking and exchanging ideas in a beautiful mood of textures, with Vanderwal’s drumming being an inspirational standout exercise in controlled restraint.The favourite surely is the title track Sleepy Town, a bluesy based composition built on the steady rhythm section, with fine solos from Sam Anning and Julien Wilson and a well crafted melody by Pregnell. Never overpowering, is Pregnell’s ability to comfortably, skilfully and subtly execute his numerous jazz interpretations in a dreamy Grant Green kind of way. This provides a presence that allows his bandmates to stretch, explore, and improvise freely along with him, creating an approachable session open to anyone with a love for sweet toned gliding and light-swinging
Barry O'Sullivan
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Stefano Rocco Quartet - A New Night, A New Day (Independent)
This debut album from the Italian born, Australian based, guitarist narrates a story over seven musical interludes which each represent a time, a place and a mood over a timeframe. Rocco’s original compositions were recorded with Muhamed Mehmedbasic on double bass, Nick Southcott on piano and Ed Rodrigues on drums. The music draws inspiration from contemporary jazz, blues, and Latin music and is delivered in a cunning and uniquely collective fashion taking the listener on a journey through different moods and places. The coordination of the elements to produce the desired effect, especially surreptitiously, spotlights mainly on Rocco’s guitar work and the well-wrought percussive drumbeat of Rodrigues who plays an important role on every track, coloring and shading the background. Throughout, Nick Southcott elegantly develops them over a continuing stream of bars and measures. A New Night has, perhaps, the prettiest vibe and Morning Blues begins by looking inward, before shifting to bright and optimistic gregariousness. The album finishes on a high with Summer Storm, a fast tune with the whole band in synch and Mehmedbasic’s melodic bass ostinato anchoring the composition. Rocco interprets the melody freely to suit the guitar and the arrangements. These four musicians work very well together and the engaging, atmospheric style of jazz on a journey shows great promise
Barry O'Sullivan
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Simon Vincent's The Occasional Trio - Live in Berlin (Vision of Sound VOSCD-005)
Perhaps UK pianist and composer Simon Vincent’s greatest musical influence is Karlheinz Stockhausen. Indeed he received a postcard reminder from the influential German composer to “balance your music”. Balance is something that Vincent certainly adheres to, especially in terms of the variety of projects he immerses himself in. Fascinated by stereophonic sound from an early age, this live recording has him returning to his conventional jazz trio setting across two Schlot club Berlin dates late in 2018 and April 2019. Brubeck is a hero and Vincent’s other settings include 2017’s solo ‘Stations of the Cross’ meditations, electro-acoustic commissions, the EMW Experimental Orchestra and more. These original pieces are peppered with about as much variety one could fit into 11 tracks across two concerts. There are periods of Cecil Taylor like freedom, swinging blues, hard bop blues, a ballad and a waltz for good measure. The recording retains the small but enthusiastic audience reactions which adds to the energy of the trio. The trio is made up of Roland Fidezius bass and newcomer Kay Lubke drums. The highlight is a piece written by the trio “Well, You Shouldn’t”. More than a tip of the hat to Monk, it was composed when the trio included drummer Rudi Fischerlehner. It opens with a Lubke drum solo that slots into a delicious groove prior to the entry of Fidezius and followed by Vincent. The dynamic trio proceed to swing heavily around Vincent’s thundering block chords. The unleashed spontaneity could not be more pronounced than when Lubke chooses a tambourine in the final “Portsmouth Blue’
Frank Presley
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Tunetown - There from Here (TSLCD-301)
Tunetown is a Toronto based trio made up of drummer Ernesto Cervini, saxophonist Kelly Jefferson and bassist Artie Roth. Jefferson has been a recording artist since the late 1990’s and has worked with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra along with Maria Schneider. Like a vocalist, Jefferson injects emotion into his playing at a level that is rarely heard on the instrument, but this triangular ensemble is evidently more than the sum of its parts. Cervini creates polyrhythmic conversations between the parts of his kit that are simultaneously referencing the be-bop past and expressing the future of jazz drumming. With a rich tone, an extraordinary sense of harmony and timing, Roth has been recording since the early 1990’s and is a bass stalwart on the Toronto scene. Immediately apparent in this music is the abundance of space due to the lack of a chordal instrument and this space provides a canvas of stark contrasts, light and shade along with drama and a good dose of humour. All members contribute eleven melodious original compositions with two quality choices for re-arranged standards also included, Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady and Cole Porter’s All of You. Sophisticated Lady is taken at an extremely slow almost haunting pace which exposes unlikely harmonic possibilities especially for Roth’s double bass. Kelly Jefferson’s initially subtle but then wailing tenor, sails above the scuffling brushes of Cervini while Roth fills out the background in what is one of the most dramatic versions of this classic I’ve heard recorded. Trio artistic expression at its very best
Peter Wockner
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Mike Nock, Hamish Stuart, Julien Wilson and Jonathon Zwartz - This World (LSR 20196)
Individually they’ve worked with some of the greatest musicians in the world and as a collaborative band they are four of Australia’s most celebrated and established improvisors. Poised between a jam session and elegant expression, the Nock, Stuart, Wilson and Zwartz collective on This World free themselves from the expectations which come with either of the above categories to deliver music that improves with each successive listen. Enjoying it multiple times as I have done didn’t result in a different experience, but rather it tightened my mind's perception of this new quartet. The process was a means by which the individual efforts of each collaborator was more readily caught and appreciated. The original music the quartet performs trades off solos without deference to a single leader, yet on the tracks The Dirge, And in the Night Comes Rain, Aftermath and We Shall Rise Again Julien Wilson’s broad tenor gets to shine and glide over the rhythmic terrain, which moves brilliantly from one mode to the next, with Nock’s cascading piano working patient grooves into submission without a hint of force. Their swing is fully textured, contained and perfectly embodied on each track. This ensemble is all class, and masters of the craft of creating an excellent recording of progressive, contemporary jazz. Highly recommended
Barry O’Sullivan
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Jason Bruer and Hammerhead - Turning Point (HH008)
The original compositions on this recording offer a significant shift in approach to Jason Bruer’s previous release Mosaic. Bruer has made numerous changes to his Hammerhead band’s line up to facilitate this change of direction. He’s ensconced young gun Alex Hirlian on drums, Brendan Clarke is now the bass player and the trumpet and flugelhorn players, Cam McAllister and Simon Ferenci are now holding fort in the horn line and Greg Coffin is now on keys. So it’s basically a new bigger band along with Andrew Robertson who’s come for the ride on alto saxophone and flute. All told, that's quite an impressive assembly. You'd be hard-pressed to find a tenor player better suited to this atmosphere than Bruer or a group of musicians as well-matched to his vision. It's no longer a secret that Bruer writes about as well as he plays — superbly. His fiery band gets out of the gate with a bang on the two openers, Sychophanticide and Conversations, two perfectly crafted showcases, that turn out to be stylish, straight ahead funk sessions. By the time they arrive at the comforting ballads of Breath and A Fugue Too Many plus the very slinky Sixth Sense, the frisky fire of the band reaches full bloom to softer ideals with some gorgeous flute playing from Robertson, into a comfort zones where world class pianist Greg Coffin feels right at home. Apart from shining a spotlight on Bruer, who excels on every track with his distinctive voice on tenor and soprano saxophones, an extended analysis of all of the soloists' virtues is beyond the scope of this review. Suffice it is to say that each of them display incredible musicianship and make essential contributions to this recording. Taken as a whole, this recording represents a superb and innovative, career-capping achievement
Barry O’Sullivan
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Jacques Kuba Seguin – Migrations (Odd Sound ODS17)
Based in Quebec, trumpeter Jacques Kuba Seguin might record on his own label Odd Sound records but his sound is anything but odd. He has a style which is relaxed yet intense, not unlike Australian Matt Jodrell, and his technique is as masterful as any trumpeter on the jazz stage today. With a sense of tradition in song titles such as Hymne, I Remember Marie in April and Origine, his fifth album is thoroughly in the moment and will appeal to listeners appreciating memorable melodies, swinging and contemporary grooves and alternating periods of sublime and intensely dynamic elasticity. All his own compositions, the arrangements allow for shared limelight with the tenor saxophonist Yannick Rieu and vibraphonist Olivier Salazar adding extra flare above the fire of the piano trio of Jean-Michel Pilc, Adrian Vedady and Kevin Warren. One of the highlights is the slow burning soulful Premiere Neige (You’re Not Alone). Salazar opens the simple melody with Kuba Seguin joining in over the heartbeat groove of Warren’s snare drum brush and Vedady’s bass. Building in intensity, Kuba Seguin continues to explore the resonances of his three note theme, but it’s the emotional element that’s most satisfying until this melody is reconciled at a leisurely 5:05. The final piece Mosaiques has a western Saharan mysticism about its harmonies and rhythms. Piano, bass, vibes and drums open the piece before Kuba Seguin joins to state the melody. Vedady then plays a leading role on bass taking a thoughtful and agile solo
Frank Presley
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Phil Slater - The Dark Pattern (Earshift Music EAR034)
Here is an artistic work, a true ‘concept album’ as substantial and as vital as the environment it takes its inspiration from. Multi-award winning trumpeter Phil Slater is regarded as Australia’s pre-eminent exponent of contemporary jazz trumpet. For this two hour set of recordings across a double CD set, its as if mother nature is using Slater and company as her own medium for expression. He is joined by long term collaborators pianist Matt McMahon, drummer Simon Barker, bassist Brett Hirst and saxophonist Matt Keegan. The compositions are trance-inducing, stark and at times even bleak. But the improvisations wash over the music like a rapid stream over a bed of river-stones creating sounds that are vivid and captivating. The contrasts are amplified. Take Simon Barker’s shallow ringing ride cymbal chiming against the resonance of his simmering sizzle cymbal. Kind of dark blue, the title track ‘The Dark Pattern’ is like an advanced modal exploration on three chords whereby Slater needn’t play any more than a single note while McMahon chooses the dark harmonies against Hirst’s leading bass notes. Keegan then searches introspectively before the ‘melody’ is re-stated by Hirst while McMahon’s repeated dark arpeggios are sometimes ‘Bach’esque but without climax. Meanwhile Barker’s sizzling cymbal provides the perfect backdrop for Slater to launch away from the pattern of the rhythm section and finish the piece like an un-ended story line left hanging at the end of a movie.
Frank Presley
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Sean Foran & Stuart McCallum – Counterpart (NAIM Records)
Jazz history is full of random reference points and in this case I couldn’t help but be reminded of the beautiful Metheny Mehldau duet The Sound of Water from their 2007 Nonesuch album Quartet. Of course Foran and McCallum, two highly accomplished artists don’t need comparison with contemporary giants but I found this album just as compelling as Quartet. Pianist Sean Foran, off the back of his success with the trios Trichotomy (formerly Misinterprotato) and Berardi/Foran/Karlen brings his unique pianistic expression blurring the lines of the composed and the improvised. Guitarist and composer Stuart McCallum from Manchester however, might be the latest news to Australian audiences but fans of John Surman, Kenny Wheeler or Ari Hoenig might be already aware of his rise. The music is full of melodious momentum often reaching peaks where sustained climaxes are used like pivots for the next melodic projection. McCallum’s brand of ‘alternative jazz’ which seems to owe just as much to Debussy or electronica is tempered somewhat in this collaboration. A gentleness washes over both artists as textures and lush soundscapes hold true. On Quiet Times, the pair are joined by John Parker brushing the drums and Sam Vicary bass. To describe this as restrained is inaccurate as there is nothing here that suggests tension. Piano and guitar are at ease allowing intricacies to rise to the surface. All nine pieces could be mistaken for through-composed compositions such is the artist’s willingness to allow the melodies to guide their improvisations
Frank Presley
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Surefire Sweat - Surefire Sweat (www.surefiresweat.com 8 75531 01696 3)
The quintet Surefire Sweat is the brainchild of the Toronto based multi-percussionist and composer Larry Graves. On this debut, the quintet is augmented by the baritone saxophonist Paul Metcalfe, flautist Rob Neal Christian and Dave Chan who adds further percussion and Hammond organ. It’s a big sound and it looms larger as the disc progresses. All eight tracks are composed by Graves who mastered his writing skills at Berklee then perfected his polyrhythmic skills in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Burkina Faso. This album really has it all for anyone who enjoys the space where jazz, funk and world grooves collide. Brad Eaton’s trumpet, Elana Kapeieris’ tenor saxophone and the baritone combine to fill the arrangements with punchy horn lines while Paul MacDougall’s guitar acts as a wondrous melodic counterweight to the horns on these catchy melodies. Graves locks in the grooves but largely avoids the limelight preferring to allow the sum of all parts, not to mention the twists and turns in each of the arrangements, to keep the audience captivated. Kapeleris’ tenor particularly shines bright on the middle eastern tinged ‘On the Phrynge’. ‘Number Nine’ is a nod to the Nigerian drummer, Tony Allen. It has a sweaty township shuffling beat which underpins a funky but complex horn arrangement under which Brad Eaton takes a jubilant solo on trumpet. The final piece ‘Scoffle Strut’ takes inspiration from John Scofield’s She’s So Lucky. It’s a slower burn taken at loping pace but just as funky. I can’t wait to hear their next album
Frank Presley
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Harry Tinney Quartet – Kingsnake (Independent)
Guitarist Harry Tinney is quickly establishing a name for himself as part of Melbourne’s improvised music scene. He was awarded the Allan Zavod Composition Prize in 2018 and with the release of his debut piano-less quartet of original recordings there’s promise of things to come from this rising star. Tinney has delivered a very melodic jazz album that will be pleasing to the ears of a wider audience while still keeping the integrity of jazz playing and composition. He exhibits a great sense of melody and soloing, never attempting to dominate proceedings but knowing exactly when to show his feel for the guitar and how much of the skill fits the song at hand. Saxophonist Brennan Hamilton-Smith displays prowess on his instrument throughout the recording and when Tinney allows him to stretch out and reward us with some excellent playing he is at the very heart of it. Another rising star without a doubt! There’s some excellent double bass playing from Paddy Fitzgerald especially on Special Consideration and the percussion of Lewis Pierre-Humbert anchors the project with deft consistency throughout, featuring upfront in the mix. But kudos goes to Tinney with his superb playing, composition and controlling of the flow in these pieces. By stripping away all unnecessary flourishes and gimmicks, he has crafted a digestible, pleasant album without making light of his subject
Barry O’Sullivan
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Michael Davidson Dan Fortin - Clock Radio (ER001)
This recording advances ideas first explored on the Gary Burton Steve Swallow 1975 ECM Album Hotel Hello. Michael Davidson is a highly creative and technically proficient vibraphonist from Toronto Canada, while bassist Daniel Fortin was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario and has a variety of musical genres in his focus. After listening to this album, it comes as no surprise that both have been playing together for over a decade. The rapport is evident especially when the line of composition is crossed and improvisation takes hold. Fortin often uses the bass’s ideal dronal qualities to lay a bed of tension against Davidson’s rapid fire hammering in highly melodic passages. Time is malleable in this most intimate of musical dialogues where the art of listening is just as important as the creation of sound. The concept here is threaded by five variations of the composition ‘Berlin’ supplanted amongst fourteen pieces which are sometimes enhanced by digital effects from the vibraphone. Incredibly dramatic, they often atmospherically stumble upon a section of swing or groove which is likely to be the result of an affinity for expressive dialogue rather than musical inevitability. Listeners will appreciate this duo’s uncanny ability to corral compositional elements balanced by harmony, melody and flexible rhythms, manifesting ideas in the purest form of creation. Haunting at times, the themes are sometimes played in the round with bass in pursuit of the vibraphone melody and then repeated in other tracks making this album a concept suite ideal for listening entirely in one sitting
Frank Presley
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Dave Young - Lotus Blossom (Modica Music)
When you try and name a worthy successor in the Oscar Peterson trio after the bassists Ray Brown and then Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, perhaps the name Dave Young doesn’t immediately come to mind but his recorded association with Peterson goes way back to ‘The Personal Touch’ in 1980. He was one of the primary motivators for Peterson to return to performance following his 1993 stroke working with the legendary pianist right up until his death. Well known for his legendary performances in the 1960’s with the Lenny Breau Quartet, Young brings a remarkable intellect to the art of bass playing that few in the world today possess. This recording consists of seven jazz standards that were almost all first takes. Young has always explored musical relationships and he invites pianist Renee Rosnes to add her elegance and strong emotion to the title track and Jobim’s ‘Modinha’. This is the same session that produced the JUNO nominated album ‘One Way Up’. The chosen repertoire which also includes Charlie Parker’s Red Cross and Cedar Walton’s Bolivia is like jazz’s essential oil. The highlight is when pianist Bernie Senensky is invited to join guitarist Reg Schwager and Young in setting down the most ‘in the pocket’ groove you’re likely to hear this year in a hard bop context. Terry Clarke’s brushwork and between beat colours are exquisite throughout. The variety of the disc is completed with the addition of trumpeter Kevin Turcotte and tenorist Perry White who shadow each other harmoniously on the final ‘Softly As In A Morning Sunrise’.
Frank Presley
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Nic Vardanega - Point in Time (Independent)
This follow up release from the Australian/New York based guitarist Nic Vardanega is an updated snapshot of the musician’s current state of creativity after two years of survival in the jazz scene there - i.e. his Point in Time. On the recording with him is the assembling of stellar American musicians, trumpeter/flugelhorn player Michael Rodriguez, bassist Jacob Dreyer and drummer Josh Roberts. Of these musicians, Rodriguez is the unquestioned veteran, having performed with Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Chick Corea, Kenny Barron and The Lincoln Centre Orchestra. However Dreyer and Roberts have no trouble in keeping pace and complementing Rodriguez’s musical virtuosity on the full complement of tunes from composer Vardanega. On tracks like New Leaves, Point in Time and Shadows Over Bleecker, Vardanga’s guitar is the perfect foil for the emotive quality Rodriguez can achieve with his horn. The track Rugged Edges is perfect for the rhythm section's deft three-way interplay where neither melody nor mutual empathy are sacrificed at the altar of freedom. There’s some solid groove on the track, Club Soda, with the guitarist’s electro-acoustic approach displaying solid technique. Whilst throughout all the other tracks, it may all sound a little familiar, there is no escaping the passion and heart in the collective playing of them all. Never overpowering is Vandanegs’s ability to comfortably, skilfully and subtly execute his numerous jazz interpretations thus providing a presence that allows his bandmates to stretch, explore, and improvise freely along with him. Point in Time is mostly uplifting, relaxing music of hummable melodies with a laid back beauty allowing one to sit back and thoroughly enjoy
Barry O'Sullivan
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Lachy Hamilton - Alchemy (Independent - https://lachyhamilton.bandcamp.com/album/alchemy)
If ever there was a novelist whose work seems ideally suited for musical expression,it would be Paolo Coelho's novel The Alchemist. With his debut album Alchemy, Lachy Hamilton has drawn inspiration from this obscure literary piece and delivered five well-crafted, emotionally resonant compositions, woven around the theme of following one’s dreams in times of doubt, with the tunes wrapping around themselves in various hue and texture with elastic melodies that stretch one to the other and forward. These compositions are accompanied by two of his favourite standards, Johnny Green’s Body and Soul and Sonny Rollins’s Pent Up House, both of which some sixty plus years on, can still capture the hearts, ears, and imaginations of listeners the world over. With a stellar band of young guns to deliver the above, this is contemporary jazz at its finest. Hamilton’s warm and fluid timbre resonates throughout and the rapport with trumpeter Thomas Avgenicos is deep, joyous and at times risky. Harry Morrison’s bass ably holds the band together and pianist Matt Harris and drummer Patrick Danao readily embrace the contours of Hamilton’s compositions and inhabit the roles required by the music, while simultaneously bringing their own idiosyncrasies to the table with Harris shining on all of his solos. The striking thing about this debut album is the knowledge that it has been a labour of love and dedication, representing a highly significant milestone for Hamilton, in what promises to be a stellar career for this talented saxophonist and composer. Alchemy is a tasteful and impressive debut that firmly positions him as a distinctive talent to watch
Barry O'Sullivan
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Gregory Porter - One Night Only (Blue Note)
Following three sensational sold-out performances at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2018 the two time Grammy winning vocalist Gregory Porter has released his first-ever live album One Night Only: Live At The Royal Albert Hall. Porter performed to a packed audience accompanied by his trusted band of pianist Chip Crawford, bassist Jahmal Nichols, drummer Emanuel Harrold, and saxophonist Tivon Pennicott and the seventy piece London Studio Orchestra. The intimate concert focuses primarily on songs from his most recent album Nat King Cole and Me. For those not familiar with Gregory Porter there is an ample back catalogue, and I’d suggest starting with Liquid Spirit, but for a complete overview this new album is perfect. There are covers as well as original material and personally it’s hard to pick a favourite. Porter became the UK’s biggest selling jazz artist of the year after his Cole tribute album. With his rich and soulful voice winning fans all over the globe, this new live album showcases that the rare combination of raw talent and the musical sophistication which he captures so effortlessly. He holds his audience in the palm of his hand.
Barry O'Sullivan
Previously published in the Fine Music Magazine
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Keith Jarrett - La Fenice (ECM 2601)
This newly released long anticipated double album presents Keith Jarrett’s concert at the Gran Teatro La Fenice in Venice, from July 2006. The setting may evoke some parallels with La Scala, the pianist’s much-loved 1995 recording, but each of Jarrett’s solo performances is its own world. La Fenice finds him channelling the flow of inspiration into a suite of eight spontaneously created pieces referencing everything from the blues to atonality. From the first flurry of notes, it is a consistently captivating journey. The opening seventeen-minute improvisation finds Jarrett in the perpetual throes of invention.Part I is technically impressive even if emotionally chilly. Between Part VI and Part VII, Jarrett surprisingly, but very touchingly, segues into The Sun Whose Rays from the Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera The Mikado.The catchy themes of Part III and Part IV recall the mesmerising motifs of The Köln Concert (ECM, 1975). The second disc has encores of the traditional tune My Wild Irish Rose, previously recorded by Jarrett on The Melody At Night With You, the timeless standard Stella By Starlight, which the trio with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette played on the albums Standards Live and Yesterdays. The concert ends with a tender version of Keith’s tune Blossom, first heard on the Belonging album from 1974. So this is where La Fenice falls short of later ECM albums such as The Carnegie Hall Concert (2005), Rio (2011), or A Multitude of Angels. Much has been previously explored and the although beautifully played has been heard before and at times seems predictable. However the release of the Venice concert is timely. The 62nd International Festival of Contemporary Music of the Biennale di Venezia honoured Keith Jarrett with its Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. It’s the first time that a jazz musician has received this award, which has only previously been given to contemporary non-jazz composers. Of course, there is more than one way to be a contemporary composer, as Keith Jarrett eloquently illustrates on La Fenice, shaping his musical structures in real time.
Barry O'Sullivan
Previously published in the Fine Music Magazine
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The Kenny Barron Quintet - Concentric Circles (Blue Note Records B002832502)
Esteemed jazz pianist, composer, bandleader and educator Kenny Barron marks the fiftieth year of a remarkable recording career with the release of his Blue Note debut. The recording is a sublime eleven song set that finds the eleven time Grammy nominee returning to a dynamic quintet setting. On this outing, he introduces a new edition of the Kenny Barron Quintet, featuring his regular players Jonathon Blake on drums and Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass, along with saxophonist Dayna Stephens and trumpeter Mike Rodriguez. Barron relishes the opportunity to expand his sonic palette on eight original compositions plus new interpretations of songs by Caetano Veloso and Thelonious Monk. The album opens with the barreling DPW, an up-tempo hard-bop composition that pays homage to Barron’s Brooklyn neighborhood Ditmas Park West. Composed in 2013, the song jolts with an enticing frontline trumpet-and-tenor saxophone melody and urbane harmonies reminiscent of those heard in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis’ mid-’60s quintet. On the title track Barron delivers an alluring waltz buoyed by the rhythm section’s fluttering rubato and adorned by supple solos from the leader and then from Stephens and Rodriguez. The spirit of Thelonious Monk, one of Barron’s most prominent touchstones, is present in all of Barron’s recordings. The album concludes with a sumptuous solo piano reading of Monk’s Reflections, a song that Barron has recorded numerous times. Concentric Circles is another sparkling jewel in Barron’s recording crown and it surely won’t be the last.
Barry O'Sullivan
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Tom Noonan - Pas de deux (Wizard Tone Records)
Melbourne based saxophonist Tom Noonan is an emerging composer and saxophonist who graduated from the Victorian College of Arts with first class honours. He has studied with Julian Wilson, Ian Whitehurst, Jamie Oehlers and Tim Wilson and is clearly becoming a force to be reckoned with on the alto saxophone along-side his talents as a composer. This rather mysterious but at the same time commanding debut, was partially inspired by the social philosopher, Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving, opulently reflected in the frequent interactions between Noonan on alto and tenor saxophonist Jason McMahon or guitarist Nicholas Pennington. The album title also suggests the interaction not only of two lovers but two dancers. These interactions are given rise by the ‘call and response’ passages embedded in the ensemble arrangements and the space to freely improvise. There are four originals by Noonan, the shadowy ‘Chris’, and the post boppers ‘Nic’ and ‘Mel’. The moody ‘Alex’ which also features the wordless vocals of either Lauren Henderson or Chloe Elizabeth somehow conjures harmonies associated with Miles Davis’ late 1960’s Nefertiti period. They are followed by ‘George’ which is a brief poem taken from Lord Byron’s Don Juan and the final track which is another burning post bop composition penned by guitarist Nicholas Pennington. The recording made at Wizard Tone studios in Adelaide is perfectly balanced by Angus Mason on drums and Lyndon Gray double bass. Afficianadi of the LP length recording will also enjoy it coming in at a touch over 34 minutes in total.
Frank Presley
Previously published in Fine Music Magazine
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Moster! - States of Minds (Hubro Music LC49093)
While the music world is embracing the vinyl LP once again, this double album was reviewed on two CD’s, and yet there is still some unexplainable appeal that two LP length discs bring to this listener over a single 80 minute disc. The Norwegian saxophonist Kjetil Moster has said he is seeking to place the artistic style and intensity of his hero John Coltrane in a modern context, so with twenty minute plus epic pieces such as ‘Brainwave Entrainment’ and ‘Life Wobble’ he is surely on that committed journey. Moster is a genuine multi-instrumentalist who has played guitar in experimental rock bands and like Miles 1970’s output, immerses his horn underneath heavy guitar and electronica. ‘Life Wobble’ has a 22 minute prevailing heart beat pulse that allows other synthesized textures and guitar to evolve around it resembling intergalactic electromagnetic waves until Moster himself emerges like a duck out of a waterbird habitat. Once Kenneth Kapstad’s snare drum takes the beat to double then triple time the scene overloads to a point that somethings got to give. It’s at this boiling point where the music devolves into an incessant and highly hypnotic groove led by the saxophonist trading blows with Hans Magnus Ryan white hot guitar. This highly experimental music simultaneously draws upon rock traditions overlayed by improvised jazz. The concept is brought to life through the lense of a futuristic visionary, guiding the listener to the possibilities of how traditional instrumentation can interact artistically with electronics.
Frank Presley
Previously published in Fine Music Magazine
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Bagland - Cirkel (Jaeger Community Music JCM030)
The Danish band, Bagland, has released their third album of inspired tunes with the common thread of spacious and acoustic sounds inspired by their native Scandinavia. Distorted drumming, piano/synthesiser and a spacey guitar all interplay with leader Jakob Sørensen’s soulful trumpet giving them a new modern sound. The album draws its musical inspiration from the area of Skagen in Denmark where painters have long been attracted to by the light and ever changing topography. There are recurring themes of longing and melancholia, interspersed with happiness and hope, in a clearly defined Nordic soundscape. It’s sophisticated music-making with perfect phrasings, tempos, and melodies with no extreme grandstanding only committed creativity from all players. Stand out tracks include, Jag-ten (The Hunt), Drapeau Blanc (White Flag) and I Kirken (In The Church). The award winning trumpeter Sørenson has an impeccable luminous tone with elegant phrasing throughout. Alex Jønsson’s wailing guitar provides distinctive atmospheric effects as does the stand out drumming of Frej Lesner leading and curling at every corner of the musical progression. Sørenson has composed the majority of the music as well as an additional compositional contribution from Mathias Jaeger (piano/synthesizer) and Frederik Sakham (double bass). Cirkel(Circle) is an album for quiet times when pleasure and thought is on the agenda. To be appreciated fully, this album should best be listened to late at night, preferably with a glass of Akvavit
Barry O'Sullivan
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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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