Review: Brood Groove (Christopher Young Quartet)

Brood Groove
Christopher Young Quartet (Move Records | MD 3348)
Release date: October 2011

CD Review by Andrew Lindsay

‘One of the most rewarding sessions I’ve recorded for Jazztrack. Maybe the stars aligned that day…’
Mal Stanley, (Jazztrack, ABC Classic FM/ABC Jazz)

I first heard Chris Young playing over twenty years ago, in a duo setting with Tom E Lewis. Duets for flute and didgeridoo, the two men wearing evening dress, standing in the foyer of the National Gallery of Victoria, playing a haunting music of delight. Chris Young was the flute player, and as someone who’d played a bit of flute over the years, I was envious of his tones and execution, and the levity of his invention.

Physically he’s filled out a bit since then, and so has his music. Brood Groove does feature some exquisite flute playing, but it is also a kind of  love song to the bass clarinet. Nine new compositions and improvisations by Chris Young, with Ted Vining on drums, Nick Haywood on bass, and Tom Fryer on acoustic guitar. Mark Fitzgibbon shares writing credits on one track. This new recording reveals more than  one hour of feisty and lyrical new jazz.

A  bass-throated burble on the bass clarinet leads us in. A fat, deep voiced meditation with subtlest grace notes from the drums and bass, and then we are away.

A sweet tone announces itself, and the full band is present, in a mood of sweet delight, with Mr Young’s  clarinet to the fore. The melody becomes thoughtful, darker. Tom Fryer leads the listener on with his delicate fingerings on acoustic guitar.

Brood Groove is at times kooky, and surprising, and full of a yearning and a grace…there’s whimsy, and a benign articulation of folly, and the alarming consternations of life in a human skin. The dominant mood is one of celebration, even when these Brood Grooves start getting moody.

The ensemble achieves the gentlest innovations, there’s grunt when needed from the rhythm section, and the sweet and maudlin inventions of Tom Fryer delighting the listener on acoustic guitar. There’s some sublime flute playing, the band discrete, lulling, with hints of sweet disturbance. There are pleasing moments of great restraint, at other times a thrilling excess is achieved, an ecstasy revealed. Some tracks reveal  what one might call an Eastern spaciousness. Perhaps this owes something to Mr Young’s studies of the shakuhachi in Japan.

Over the last nine years or so I’ve heard Mr Young play many delightful sets, mostly around some treasured haunts in Melbourne’s Northcote, and this recording is perhaps a summation of  his last decade’s playing.

‘Brooding Groove’, the almost title track, is haunting, deeply felt, inquisitive and passionate The delicacy of the ensemble becomes another testament to that compassionate revelation we call jazz.

I snuck this CD on one night when friends were sitting in the backyard. No fanfare, no announcement. I was curious to see what effect, if any, the music might have on the listeners – a couple of friends with great ears and a love of fine music. After about fifteen minutes I was intrigued to observe that the music had permeated our little gathering.

‘What’s this music? It’s gorgeous, it’s just gorgeous!’ were the words uttered. Spontaneous responses to an unknown recording, and to my mind they’re spot on.

Brood Groove is out on Move Records –

Christopher Young – bass clarinet, clarinet, flute
Ted Vining – drums
Nick Haywood – bass
Tom Fryer – acoustic guitar