Album review: Tales To Tell (Alex Pertout and Nilusha Dassenaike) by Leon Gettler

Tales to Tell, Alex Pertout and Nilusha Dassenaike (Whispering Tree Music)
Distribution: The Planet Company / MGM
Released: September 2014

Review by Leon Gettler

Tales to TellAn exceptional album. Their previous album Moments In Time had a folkish feel to it. This one is different; it tells a story, a tale of collaboration between different cultures, South American and Asian, Middle Eastern and European, a blend of jazz, world music, pop and a bit of R&B. The result: a multi-layered cultural mix that can only be Australian, a product of a nation created by immigrants who brought their backgrounds with them and wove it into the nation’s cultural fabric. This is unmistakeably Australian jazz, a genre you wouldn’t hear anywhere else in the world.

To do this, Pertout and Dassenaike have brought together talented musicians from around the world. They have assembled a line-up to die for, bringing together jazz luminaries from Australia and around the world, something that’s rare on any album. That’s only one reason why this album is so captivating.

The album is intensely personal, capturing the Latin American and Southern Asian roots. You can feel it in the first piece ‘Nothing To Hide’ which opens with an Andean feel with Pertout playing the panpipes, bombo, bongos, shakers, glockenspiel and doing the handclaps with Dassenaike’s ethereal voice floating over the top like an ocean wave. The standout feature on this track is the superb piano solo from Dee Dee Bridgewater’s pianist and arranger Edsel Gomez who has also worked with everyone from Gary Burton, Chick Corea and Jerry Gonzalez to Claudio Roditi and Don Byron.

You hear it in the next track too, ‘Little Promises’ which is based on a traditional Sri Lankan folk melody. Dassenaike expands on the theme, taking it in new directions. Listen out for pianist Andrea Keller’s backing on here, making sure she stays well and truly in the background in the background. The highlight on this track is Mike Stern’s guitar that seems to come out of nowhere giving a slight R&B flavour. Stern also features on the track ‘Falling’ and ‘Wanderlust’ His guitar makes an enormous difference here. ‘Falling’ is a track that bursts with joy as we hear Dassenaike’s voice blending in with the bongos, shaker, cymbals and other percussive effects from Pertout.

The cultural mix is also captured perfectly on the track ‘Un Mismo Camino’ which in Spanish means “on the same pathway”. With its Latin American feel, Dassenaike’s voice soars above it, dancing around the rhythms perfectly. Paul Grabowsky’s piano accompaniment is sublimely subtle and it’s capped off by Miroslav Bukovsky’s ethereal voicings on the flugelhorn. Listen out for Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy on tabla, apparently recorded at a London studio, and Cuban violinist William Roblejo.

And to cap off that unmistakably Australian feel, we have the track ‘Clear Water’ which creates a shifting urban landscape. The sound is straight out of the city with street scenes recorded in Havana, Cuba. The feel here is of constant movement and dynamism with Tom E Lewis providing the sound of the didgeridoo and his own chanting vocals against the congas, triangle, bombo and vibes of Pertout.

Australian jazz at its best.


Alex Pertout – percussion
Nilusha Dassenaike – voice

David Alfaro – piano
Miroslav Bukovsky – flugelhorn
Evripides Evripidou – bass
Edsel Gomez – piano
Paul Grabowsky – piano
Luke Howard – piano
Andrea Keller – piano
Tom E Lewis – didgeridoos, vocals
Craig Newman – bass
John Norton – oud
Peter Petrucci – electric, acoustic guitars
Alan Plachta – lead, rhythm guitars
Hossam Ramzy – Egyptian tabla
William Roblejo – violin
Adrian Sherriff – flute
Mike Stern – lead, rhythm guitars


Alex and Nilusha on the web
Whispering Tree Music

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