Upon first entering Bird’s Basement, I was immediately conscious of the crystalline sound of the piano, each unamplified note lingering in the space, untrammelled by its neighbours. The audience, in darkness, appeared hushed, as if intensely focused on the music: lyrical, melodic and restrained. As I was drawn into this music, I was conscious of its fragile delicacy, as Mark Isaacs mined the upper register, unafraid of summoning sheer beauty from his instrument.
Each of the nine pieces are more settings than compositions, or even improvisation – settings for Dilworth to express this idea of viata/life, and his reaction to it. Many of the tunes on ‘Viata’ have a European dissonance, a Bartokian slipping in and out of key and tone – not exactly dissonance, more the stretching of the envelope, a very human thing, tying it to the universality of the blues.
Derricott has always been one of our most surprising drummers, technically exciting while at ease in any improvisational situation, creating effortlessly and colourfully.
James Muller’s tone across the entire album is immaculate: rich yet biting when it needs to be, with piano-like chords or brittle percussive comping. The minimal comping and lack of piano lends all of the performances an open, contrapuntal transparency that lend it an astringent economy, letting the music breath organically. Exciting stuff.
Hers is a naturally musical voice aided and abetted by impeccable pitch and an ability to move through registers effortlessly. Clancye Milne’s jazz sensibilities are strong and she phrases with the maturity of a jazz singer twice her age, with just a whisper of Blossom Dearie.
Recorded with two different Andy Sugg Groups in those two darkly glittering Gothams of jazz, New York and Melbourne, the eight tracks on Tenorness span the breadth of the tenors expression in modern jazz.
Steve Barry’s recent writing has evolved a highly individual and idiosyncratic language that colours the logic of his melodic line. Harmonically he has become even more adventurous, and rhythmically he plays with time and the stretching of time in truly eye and ear-opening ways.
It was fascinating to watch such a powerful voice emanate from Kristin Berardi’s delicate frame.
I heard something of Miles’ ‘Big Fun’the first time I played I Hold the Lion’s Paw’s ‘Abstract Playgrounds’.There, in the opening track ‘(outtakes from the)’ is that same soupy mix, the same muddy rhythms, as if primeval matter, inchoate, is ever-so-slowly coalescing into form. There is an urgency and drama inherent in that opener, as it carefully leads the listener in: what directions this music will take is a wide-open question.
When Michael Griffin’s lips touch the mouthpiece, he’s transfomed: the awkward teenager gives his place to a jazz master of superb confidence – and his pinstripe suit becomes a perfect fit. It’s uncanny.