Slater’s voice is a perfect choice for the Trio and Stephenson’s songs. Bell-clear, it is a fluid thing, like smoke or drifting water, avoiding any grating blues edges or forced earthiness. It is this instrumental quality a hallmark of all valid jazz singing that fits so neatly with the modern angles and curves of Stephenson’s compositions
Playing with the Vampires on this album has pulled some startling performances out of Loueke and, in kind, the band rise to his fire one catches oneself thinking they sound the best they ever have; then you realise the Vampires always sound this good.
I love guitar, it has the ability to convey an incredibly rich range of textures and sounds, and has a history of amazing players. However, when I choose collaborators, it is often based on the individual: Lionel Loueke and Kurt Rosenwinkel are both unique voices on their instruments, and aesthetically, I felt they were a great match for the respective projects I was working with.
To listen to Daniel Susnjar’s ‘Moth To A Flame’ one would expect these eight densely arranged, complex and exceptionally recorded pieces to have taken a year or two to get to this level. In fact, the album was done and dusted (bar a little extra later dusting in WA and Miami) in 24 short hours.
The Twentieth Century Dog is big on rhythm too – with two drummers and a percussionist, as well as having a bass-player as leader, it is inevitable that there will be grooves of all flavours, and rhythm games running through the music like pulsing veins. Funk, Afro-beat, jazz: all booty-shaking but mind-bending at the same time.
The band needs to be extraordinary to navigate Sugg’s remarkable compositions and bring them to vivid life – each tune is completely owned by the ensemble; the ensemble playing and solos leap from the speakers with a rush of blood and fire.
The band has ruled the roost at Balmain’s Unity Hall Hotel forever and Walkin’ Shoes – Dan Barnett’s seventh album – captures all the life and spark of those great gigs and of vocalist/trombonist Barnett’s larger-than-life musical personality.
Manzanza’s vision is one of virtuosic precision which never enslaves the groove – a very African approach: complex yet irresistable.
Tim Rollinson’s ‘Nitty Gritty’ calls to mind John Scofield’s enormously successful Scofield Au Go Go of a few years back and in many ways comes from the same place: a love of groove and the improvisational ideas which flower from the deep earth of funk
I am happy to say the new Divergence Jazz Orchestra album – cheekily and tartly titled Fake It Until You Make It – is here. And I want to shout about it.
As assured and fully-formed as The Opening Statement was, the three years between it and the new one has added an even greater depth and daring to Jenna Cave’s writing and the band’s entirely apt and sympathetic reading (in all senses) of her charts.