Pierrot (Jazzgroove, March 2014)
review by Mick Paddon
A couple of weeks ago, a presenter on one of my favourite radio stations with a large, but not exclusively, jazz content likened the music of the saxophone led trio he played to the iconic Australian trio led by the late Bernie McGann. His comment sent me off to listen to the range of trios I have on CD partly to check out if the absence of a traditional chordal instrument (most usually piano or guitar) produces any sort of likeness in the music. These thoughts were already in my mind when I first listened to the new CD by Sydney trio Felucca, Pierrot which features James Loughnan on tenor, Abel Cross on electric bass and Paul Derricott on percussion. The truth is, of course, that there are more differences than similarities between saxophone trios, even if we limit ourselves to those which are performing presently. Though depending on how the space between the instruments is used, it sometimes produces a sparseness which can slip into hollowness.
What Felucca’s CD itself reminded me was that jazz, as a contemporary music, is being fed constantly by many influences, with the interesting paradox that many, if not most, younger jazz musicians can be more open to these influences and ideas than some in their audiences. Paul Derricott and Abel Cross in particular seem to be drawing on motifs from the different forms of rock music in the insistence of the repeated patterns in the drums, and the use of the electric bass to repeat a relatively simple pattern (as on sections of the track ‘Ash) or to sustain the same note for the bar’s duration (as we hear on ‘Pixelated Mosiac’). Above this, James Loughan is making emphatic sketches with his tenor but feels as though he is rarely straying too far away from the momentum established by the other two instruments.
The CD accelerates away in the opening track, ‘Ranaldo’, written by Abel Cross (writing credits are shared around the trio with two pieces from Cross, four from Derricott and a triplet from Loughnan) The eight tracks that follow emerge at a tempo that seems to get more solemn as the CD progresses, whether this is intentional or not.
The result is music anchored by the bass, and driven by the drums but which feels at times as though the members of the trio are straining against each other rather than each playing with or supporting the others.
Listen and purchase
James Loughan- tenor saxophone
Abel Cross- electric bass
Paul Derricott- drums, cymbals, voice
We featured a track from this CD on our podcast >