Posts Tagged ‘Dave Douglas’

Fusion of genres truly only work when each colliding style has enough in common to make the fusing seamless. Whether technique, timbre or just plain spirit, some common tongue needs to be spoken.

Bossa Nova of the 1950s had US jazz and Brazilian tang fitting together like a hand in a parrot-plumed glove. The whirling syncopations of Spanish music also dances beautifully with jazz ­– check our own wonderful Translators – and the flailing marriage of Irish jigs and reels with Punk Rock can be hugely exciting.

Travelled drummer, Daniel Susnjar has combined jazz with Peruvian rhythms, melodies and inspirations for his debut album, Su Su Nje.

Daniel Susnjar1Opener ‘Enciendete Candela’ sets up a rolling yet spiky 6/8. As the melody is passed around the lead instruments, you can hear the distinctly jazz elements and the equally distinct Peruvian elements working together – not in parallel, but twined like a two coloured braid.

What you can also hear is Daniel Susnjar’s easy dexterity and his knack of playing right inside the music. As well as keeping this tricky groove up he plays with the soloists, kicking along Laura Leguia’s soprano solo and adding some sparkle around Gabriel Alegria‘s trumpet, all without dropping a stitch.

His own drum solo on ‘Enciendete Candela’ – interestingly answering a short melodic fragment – is smartly constructed and ‘sings’ beautifully.

‘Enciendete Candela’ is one of several rearranged classic Peruvian pieces Susjar has included in homage to the country’s master composers and musicians.

His own pieces fit the mix neatly – ‘Land O Sus’ a lazier 6/8 with a sun-baked Spanish patina (check the fleet guitar solo of Daniel’s father, Danny Susnjar), ‘One Four Five’ a rock-fusion suite with some real arrangement smarts, ‘Fearless Feel’ a piece of percussion momentum that rolls like a wheel into tomorrow.Daniel Susnjar2

Perth-native Susnjar recently returned from the United States, where he earned his Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. He has performed and recorded with artists including Chick Corea, Pharrell Williams, Bobby McFerrin, Terence Blanchard, Steve Miller, Danilo Perez, Dave Douglas, Chris Potter, Victor Wooten, Joshua Redman and Dave Grusin.

For Su Su Nje, Susnjar selected just the right players based in New York, Miami and Peru – from New York, trumpeter Alex Pope Norris, tenor Troy Roberts, bassist Sam Anning and Paul Bollenback; from Miami, trombonist (and conch shell man) Chad Bernstein; and Peruvian musicians Gabriel Alegria, acoustic guitarist Yuri Juarez, Laura Andrea Leguia, and cajon player Freddy Huevito Lobaton. Daniel was proud to have his father Danny Susnjar co-produce and co-mix the album, as well contribute as a special musical guest.

With Su Su Nje, Susnjar has created a fresh and bright thing. The Peruvian/Jazz collision is a soft one, like lovers coming together ­– and, unlike both the hush cool of Bossa, or the giddy muscle of Afro-Cuban and much other South Am music, the jazz-Peruvian thing is a unique vibe. I do hope we hear more of it.

And I certainly do hope we hear more of Daniel Susnjar.

 

For more info, visit http://www.danielsusnjar.com

The CD is available from Daniel Susnjar‘s website www.danielsusnjar.com and from iTunes.

 

 

Published April 2104 on australianjazz.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Zappa’s famous dictum of “Jazz is not dead; it just smells funny” was made at a time when Jazz had left the listener behind, cordoning itself off with fences of impenetrable theory and barbed wire tangles of unlistenable mathematics. Artists like Anthony Braxton, who named many of his compositions with symbols and numbers, chose to forget entirely about that function of music that activates the body below the cerebellum. The only way out seemed through fusing with rock, blues, funk and other, more vigorous mongrel-like musics.

Even though Jazz ultimately found its way again, it still intermittently reinvigorates itself by sucking on the funky, vital blood of other, more populist musics now and again – check current shining light Robert Glasper’s incorporation of hip-hop and urban favours into his Jazz, or our own D.I.G who mixed up House and Jazz so successfully in the 90s.

Sydney’s Vampires have long mixed reggae (Marley et al plus the Ethiopian skank of the great Mulatu Astatke and such) and African funk into their brew. Featuring compositions from altoist Jeremy Rose and trumpeter Nick Garbett their sound is beautifully open and spry – with no chordal instrument (piano or guitar) to thicken the sound, this allows the band to not only keep the jazzheads happy with some curly chromaticism in the solos, but helps the rest of us shake our asses to the surefooted grooves driven by Alex’s Boneham (bass) and Masso (drums).

Their prior releases – 2008’s South Coasting and Chellodene from 2009 – were hugely successful, pushing The Vampires out into the festival circuit and painting grins on the faces of all who heard them. The new one, Garfish is more of the same, thank God (and Ornette Coleman).

The title track opener, Nick Garbett’s ‘Garfish’ walks in with a beautifully  assured reggae stroll – the band, augmented by trombonist Shannon Barnett, moves between reggae, New Orleans march music and a joyous free-blown Dixieland section. Chilean percussionist Fabian Hevia introduces ‘Haiti’ and we are off into a Randy Weston-style Afrogroove. The ingredients are thrown in, the gumbo mix swirls and the album unfolds like a feast.

Much of this material was developed at the 2011 Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music under the direction of US trumpeter Dave Douglas – a musician known for eschewing genres and elitism: a righteous man, in other words. 

The calypso of ‘Dragon Del Sur’, the relaxed Cuban jump of Rose’s ‘Antipodean Love Song’ – it all reminds me of John McLaughlin’s statement that “all music is World music” – we all live in the World, don’t we? The Vampires take what they want and use what they want, to great effect.

And it is this which makes Garfish such a satisfying album – the solos and ideas are what is best about Jazz: adventurous, poetic, free and soulful; but the grooves and good humour here are also as valid as any other element. Seventy years ago, Jazz used to make the best dance records – in 2012, The Vampires make equally irresistible dance music. Garfish will have you shaking your ass while bright jungle flowers grow between your ears.

Published March 2012 on theorangepress.net