John Hardaker reviews ECILA | ECILA is a startling debut from an exciting new talent and a dazzling new ensemble. The gratifying part is that, here on their debut, we witness the beginning of a road that I truly hope will stretch far far into the future.
‘a strange and beautiful world conjured among the bricks and grime, the litter and the 7-11 stores’
On the strength of his eponymous debut album, Steve Barry, I get the feeling we will have to do as we did with the Finn brothers and Rusty Crowe (and any other frighteningly talented Kiwi) and willingly refer to him as the Australian pianist and composer Steve Barry. The album really is that good.
US sax giant Dave Liebman called Sugg ‘a dedicated warrior’ and throughout the album his tone and lines (restricted here to only soprano sax) are heroic as he leads his band through the music.
John Hardaker | ‘…the writing and the playing have a lot of humanity – a lot of soul.’
That Galaxstare are capable of creating this huge, deep, wide, bottomless universe of music in a room on Cleveland Street using only bass clarinet, voice, accordion, bass and drums is astounding and humbling.
From electro-popping whimsy such as ‘Rotovibe’ – a collage of scratch-mixed ideas – to the entirely acoustic pieces such as ‘Special When Lit’ – a beautifully measured sound-river featuring his current band of Matt Penman on bass and Jochen Rueckert on drums – Slave To The Machine Vols 1&2, has an over-arching cohesion that belies the fact this music was recorded over a 5-year period, from 2007 to 2012.
Sydney tenor giant James Ryan – as well as being a startling instrumentalist – is a truly gifted and, in a world where the word has been buffed clean of all its edge, a truly creative composer and arranger. He recently arranged a selection of Ray Charles tunes for his powerhouse big band, The Sonic Mayhem Orchestra, a collection of Sydney’s best and brightest and that rare bird: a large ensemble bristling with astonishing soloists that play as an ensemble, as one.
‘…a true collection that is at once a retrospective of his remarkable 25-year career and at the same time twelve new recordings.’