Posts Tagged ‘Shannon Stitt’

I initially thought local label, Art As Catharsis was named so as yet another piece of post-post-modern irony. But having listened to many of their releases, I know now it is not – the music is entirely cathartically moving, innovative and beautiful.

No exception is the label’s recent release of Paul Derricott‘s Coast. Named for the band Derricott has put together for this project, ‘Coast’ refers to the meeting of shore and sea – as he puts it: “(the) Sydney coastline, the thin line between bobbing up and down our heads above the water and the unrelenting energy of the ocean that surrounds…”.

Derricott Coast2And the ocean metaphor is all over this music. Derricott has always been one of our most surprising drummers, technically exciting while at ease in any improvisational situation, creating effortlessly and colourfully. The Coast ensemble could not have been better chosen to bring his vision to life – Shannon Stitt on keys, guitarist Peter Koopman and Michael Avgenicos on sax.

No having a dedicated bass player – Stitt contributes bass on the keys –  lends the music an original flow. It pushes the arrangements into places where new funk can flower, or the push-pull of rhythm section becomes more tense. Of course, Stitt’s facility could have him easily emulating a bass player, but that would entirely miss the point, and confuse the trajectory of this music.

Opener ‘Blackline’ sets up a template of heavy syncopation, bringing to mind 70s proggers Van Der Graaf Generator and recent Scandinavians Elephant 9, before smoothing out for a flowing Koopman solo – his playing, like that of John Scofield, always has a tang of the blues no matter where he takes it. Derricott Coast1

‘Tide’ contrasts with a liquid ambience – the benign calm of the sea after ‘Blackline”s squall storm – it’s melody ebbing and flowing back and forth.

‘Or Not’ leaps out of the box with a funky waaaah!, jumping between time signatures before devolving into heavy sludge – a dazzling play of contrasts that keeps your ears pricked up. Michael Avgenicos and Derricott play a drums/horn conversation that really cooks, adding some tropic heat to the beach.

Conga player George Rojas is added for instant Latin on ‘Dance 35’ which winds its way to a 7/8 montuno that frames Derricott’s drum solo – his solo here is a highlight of the many highlights across Coast.

Paul Derricott has surprised us consistently with his projects and collaborations such as Arrow, Derroderro, The Dilworths and Tiny Hearts as well as performances with… pretty much the Australian improvised music phone book. The smartly considered compositions and arrangements on Coast, together with this unusual line-up of hand-picked players make this album yet another beautifully realised project in his catalogue.

Paul Derricott’s website is



Guitarist Tim Rollinson‘s approach – that of taste, space and minimum waste – is one of the joys of anything he puts out into the world: whether it be the Acid-House of D.I.G. (Directions in Groove) or, more recently, the exquisitely urban-nocturnal Modern Congress, or all points between.

Rollinson’s new album – Nitty Gritty – keeps that chill ethos to the fore across ten tracks that conjure old-school/nu-school grooves paying homage to all that is  chilled and tasty. Along for the ride is probably the best band in current Australian jazz that you could dream-team for a project like this: Shannon Stitt on keys (an integral foil on Hammond and Rhodes), Alex Hewetson on Fender bass (as they used to say in the 70s where much of this music lives) and drummer Nic Cecire (who can do anything, but does this oh-so-well).


Slinky album opener ‘Handful of Clay’ starts bluesy but slow-burns through to a sharply grinding coda – a very live sounding crescendo. The live vibe here is all across Nitty Gritty – in common with the blues and the best jazz, an album such as this dries up and dies on the vine if that in-the-moment feeling is not captured.

‘Gravity Waves’ has Rollinson bringing to mind the loose-wristed lines of Cornell Dupree over a relaxed funky bed (any reference I make to other artists from here on in is only for flavour – Rollinson is always Rollinson, without doubt).nitty-gritty-1

‘Criss Cross’ is reminiscent of The Crusaders‘ more trippy moments with Stitt sampling Joe Sample‘s soul in his beautifully shaped solo (the above referential disclaimer goes for Shannon Stitt as well). His sneaky electronics across the Skatalite-like title track, ‘Nitty Gritty’ bring the project up to date, as equally on the deep-cubby band-collaboration ‘Truce’ (which Rollinson counters with the country-clear steel of six-string banjo). His Headhunters‘ Rhodes makes the tough funk of ‘Hullaboogaloo’ totally Herbie-aceous.

Nice to see the blues here too. ‘Slow Motion’ has a beautiful singing single-pole solo, with the jazz-guitarist in Rollinson keeping the bends to a minimum while still saying everything he needs to say. Album closer, the moody minor mood ‘Snake Oil’, has a much blues as bop in Rollinson’s fluid solo – his vocabulary holds them all quite easily.

Nitty Gritty calls to mind John Scofield‘s enormously successful Scofield Au Go Go of a few years back and in many ways comes from the same place: a love of groove and the improvisational ideas which flower from the deep earth of funk. Tim Rollinson’s album is subtler and, in my opinion, wider in scope and colour than Sco and Co.’s boogaloo-fest.

I suggest, as a recent Nobel Prize winner said many years ago, that you dig its earth.


Tim Rollinson launches Nitty Gritty on 22 November at Foundry 616 –

Tim Rollinson’s website is here –


Published October 2106 on and