Album Review: Alluvium (Tiny Hearts) by Mick Paddon

Alluvium (Alluvium Records) May 2014
Tiny Hearts

Review by Mick Paddon

TinyHearts-coverJazz and improvised music is performed in a wide variety of combinations of instruments – they range from musicians playing solo (most commonly on piano or guitar, but I have strong memories of a performance on a snare drum and high hat by Max Roach and, for different reasons, Joe Gallivan spending an evening on drum synthesiser) – to bands and orchestras which overflow from a whole stage, or fill a room. But if there can be such a thing as the quintessential jazz combo, to my mind it would be the quintet of two horns (saxophone and trumpet) with a rhythm section of piano, bass and drums.

In a very contemporary variant of this classic lineup, five Sydney based musicians, performing under the name Tiny Hearts, have produced the new CD, Alluvium. Eamon Dilworth, heard previously leading his eponymous band the Dilworths, plays trumpet, and is credited with five of the eleven tracks on the CD. Drummer Paul Derricott and pianist Steve Barry each contribute two of the pieces, with saxophonist Dave Jackson and bass player Tom Botting chip in with one composition each. On one of his own compositions (Kanji) Steve Barry adds his vibes playing to the mix, while Paul Derricott gets to exercise his vocal cords, joined by Elana Stone and Brian Campeau, on his piece, ‘Big Sea Reprise’.

The band describes its CD as ‘a collection of stories written individually and re imagined together’, which captures, very accurately, the range of music they have produced, in which it is almost impossible, as a listener, to pick who has composed or arranged which piece. It is often an easy game to link compositions to composers by listening to which instruments are favoured, but definitely not so in this case. While two horns feature most strongly in the melodies and solos just focussing on them would not do justice to the piano work from Steve Barry, which at times is used to establish a theme or rhythm, at others sketches in the shading between forceful statements from saxophone or trumpet, then makes its own crisp and energetic contributions. The use of the instruments shifts as much within the ten individual pieces as much as it does between them. Two of the longer tracks, ‘From Bucharest with Love’ and ‘Cosmontology’ in particular give the band an opportunity to shape then reshape their music, while giving a lot of space to the main soloists Eamon Dilworth, Dave Jackson and Steve Barry.

The one track which does not fit with the style or feel of the rest of the CD and presumably this is intentional, is ‘Big Sea Reprise’, with its slow repetition by piano, bass, drums and voices of a descending pattern of chords.

I always take it to be a good sign when my first response to a new CD is to check out when I can get to see the band playing live. In this case I am doubly lucky in that Tiny Hearts launch the CD at Sydney’s newest jazz venue, Foundry 616, on May 22nd


Eamon Dilworth- Trumpet
Dave Jackson-Saxophone
Steve Barry –Piano and vibes on track 4, ‘Kanji’
Tom Botting- Bass
Paul Derricott- Drums and voice on track 8, ‘Big Sea Reprise’
Elana Stone- voice on track 8, ‘Big Sea Reprise’
Brian Campeau- voice on track 8, ‘Big Sea Reprise’


Tiny Hearts on

Tiny Hearts on


Tiny Hearts : ‘Brief Stint’ Live at SIMA, Sydney, 28/03/2014
Eamon Dilworth – trumpet; Dave Jackson – alto; Steve Barry – piano; Thomas Botting – bass; Paul Derricott – drums