Posts Tagged ‘Horace Silver’

Some wonderful music continues to come out of Western Australia. There is definitely something in the water over there.

The latest in a long line of exciting releases is Kohesia, the debut album of bassist/composer Kate Pass‘s Kohesia Ensemble. The Ensemble’s sound and Pass’s compositions mix jazz timbres with Persian (Iranian) sounds and melodic concepts (I choose to think of it as Persian rather than the more modern Iranian because this music seems to speak with a voice that summons timeless and multi-hued, multi-patterned visions).

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However, Pass’s compositions and musical palette are far from mere exotica – in fact, the conversational mix of Western and Middle-Eastern musics could not be more timely, with the current world schisms and tensions between the two cultures. To hear these voices side-by-side, talking and twining together is an almost political call for hope – one where neither side sees the other as the “other”.

And that is the gift of Pass’s writing – the range of ways she mixes the two disparate and quite unique timbres together: on ‘Journey to A Faraway Place’ she fuses Ricki Malet‘s trumpet and the ney (wooden flute) of Esfandiar Shahmir into an intriguing hybrid voice over arco bass; on the 5/8 groove ‘Point of Departure’ the same two instruments answer each other, as if in a conversation that spans the centuries across a barline; on opener ‘Nahafsi’ the tenor sax of Marc Osbourne is answered by Mike Zolker‘s nasal yet sinuous oud.

The writing fits the phrasing and execution to the mood: ‘Nahafsi’s microtonal grace notes pull against the hem of the melody; the changes of ‘Origins’ are either folk changes if played by the ney, or jazz changes when the tenor takes over. Kohesia1

‘Schplur’ reminds one of a Horace Silver hard bop groove – a groove which holds up just fine under the oud solo. Pass’s intelligent and soulful bass improvisation here is informed by her compositional skills in its shape and momentum. Drummer Daniel Susnjar pins the whole performance down with customary taste and fire. Susnjar also produced Kohesia, as well as enlivening the album with his superlative playing. His solo over ‘Schplur’s faux-montuno and his jabbing and jibing comp under Chris Foster‘s sparkling piano solo on ‘Origins’ are high points.

Kohesia has been nominated for a slew of awards and The Ensemble have been invited to play major national festivals. It is no surprise: from Elle Deslandes‘ and Reza Mirzaei‘s beautiful and apt package design down through the album’s production, mixing and mastering, Kohesia is excellence, pure and simple.

The poem inscribed on the inner sleeve is by 14th century Persian poet Hafiz. It reads: “We’ll crack the Heavens’ vault in half and hew a wholly new design”. With Kohesia Kate Pass has created a fascinating new voice by less violent, but just as powerful, means: this music comes from a heart that seeks beauty and a heart that seeks peace.

Kate Pass’s website is https://www.katepass.com

Kohesia is available from https://katepass.bandcamp.com/releases

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We love Andrew Dickeson.

The Sydney jazz drummer has long been the epitome of elegance, both in his playing and in his style. Always dressed to the nines and with that secret smile as he plays (what does he know that we don’t?), Dickeson is a direct link to everything that is good about jazz and the fine art of jazz drumming. A modern classicist, it is always a delight to hear him play.

His new album – Is That So? – is a delight too. Recorded with US tenor player, Eric Alexander, its nine tracks cover wide and fertile ground, from streamlined bop to bossa nova and Afro-Cuban grooves, all serving to showcase Dickeson’s versatility and impeccable taste. Andrew Dickeson2

Eric Alexander is an excellent partner for this project as are Wayne Kelly on piano and bassist Ashley Turner. All four are coming from the same good place – that of 50’s and early 60’s jazz where the modernism of hard bop and ‘cool’ had formed into an alloy that was one of the perfect expressions of the art form.

From the opener – title track ‘Is That So?’ a rarely-played Duke Pearson tune – you can hear the quartet’s perfect dynamic balance. A sublimely swinging piece, its high point is Dickeson’s melodic drum break that, typically, says all it needs to say with taste, precision and economy.

Alexander’s nimble solo on the classic ‘For all We Know’ shows him also to be a master of restrained swing – though he can produce flashes of fire out of the smoulder.

The Ahmad Jamal-inspired ‘On The Trail’ shows pianist Kelly’s cool empathy: chiming comping giving way to a sparkling solo. Ahmad would approve.

The Rogers and Hammerstein chestnut ‘Surry With The Fringe On Top’ is here a totally different vehicle to the horse-drawn original. Dickeson mentions in his notes that he wanted to take a more modern look at the tune, so the band has stripped it down and built it back up into an exhilarating mix of jagged, almost Monk-like riffing juxtaposed against streamlined swing sections. And it works – beautifully.

Andrew Dickeson1Ballads are often where even the best swingers come unstuck, but the reading of ‘To Love and Be Loved’ here is perfect – the balance of all elements, the emotional rise and fall, are like faceted crystal, coolly dazzling.

Moving into more rarified feels, Dickeson leads the band into Afro-Cuban territory with an almost Horace Silver feel to ‘Invitation’ and a smooth, yet parrot-bright bossa nova on ‘O Barquinho (The Little Boat)’. The edgy syncopations and complex rhythm patterns are ‘swung’ by the band as easily as anything else on the album – a tribute to the fluid rapport of the rhythm section.

Closing cut ‘Iron Man’, an Eric Alexander original, allows the band let off some steam on a bright ‘blues with a bridge’. They cook, but the heat rarely rises above a simmer, Alexander flaring out some occasional Coltranesque lines and Dickeson striking matches in the shadows. The restraint keeps it tight and exciting.

Dickeson writes of recording the title tune – ‘Is That So?’ – “(it was) so simple and catchy that you can’t help swinging and smiling”. And it is that spirit that pervades this nine-track set. Is That So? might just help us to figure what Andrew’s secret smile is all about. Do listen.

The cover of the new Strides album The Youth, The Rich & The Fake shows an Indian sadhu (white and red painted face and festooned topknot as befits your local holy man) taking a nice deep drag on a chillum of (i would say) potent bhung. If you want to know how the gentlemen is feeling, all you have to do is step inside and let the Strides be your guide.

Australia’s premier proponents of reggae and dancehall, the 8-piece Strides have released their best yet in The Youth, The Rich & The Fake, their thirdThe band is already bristling with championship musicians, rappers and singers, and for the new one they have added guests to the party such as soul sister Ngaiire and Sierra Leonean ragga man Blacker Conteh.

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Across the twelve tracks they spread their message, their virtuosity and many moods, yet without ever losing the roots(-reggae) of what they do so well. The variety and scope is wide as a Barbados beach, yet all are lit by the same sunshine. The easy reggae of ‘History’ with the sinewy horns of Jeremy Rose and Nick Garbett to the fore; the smooth croon of frontman, reggae master Ras Roni, over ‘Murawina’; the clipped ska of ‘Wizard’, with its suggestion of Horace Silver‘s ‘Song For My Father’ under it all; the mellow yet tough dub of ‘One for One’, the sort of dark groove that Fat Freddy’s Drop do so well; the sunny hymn to Jah’s love, ‘One Heart’; so many moods.

Hip-hop flavours add sweet-and-sour to ‘No Drama’ (shades of Slim Shady) and closer ‘Rude Boys’, rapper Ltl Gzeus’ joy-of-sex rap over a spooky funk reggae chug. Ngaire’s two features, ‘Rasta Live’ and especially ‘One for One’ are warm and smooth as skin.

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Standout track ‘Arnhem Land’ shows alto saxist Rose and piano player Danny Pliner stretch out on their jazz chops: Rose’s solo climbs like a snake or like a vine seeking sunlight at the top of the jungle; Pliner’s piano solo goes some dissonant places that would even make our Indian holy man sit up and take notice.

Worked up at Campbelltown’s Art Centre in gritty Western Sydney and recorded in a Byron Bay rainforest studio (U-Live), The Youth, The Rich & The Fake is a unique and uplifting statement of reggae music by one of our – and one of the World’s – best.

 

Published March 2015 on theorangepress.net