JAZZ ALBUM REVIEWS IN THE AUSTRALIAN
In September, 2017 Eric Myers commenced reviewing jazz albums in the Review supplement of The Weekend Australian. All reviews in this folder are written by Myers.
Old New Blues
Published in the Weekend Australian, April 20, 2019
The musicians here arrive with impressive credentials. Guitarist Tim Rollinson was a member of DiG (Directions in Groove), which enjoyed seven years of commercial success in the 1990s playing a form of fusion called “acid jazz”. Bassist Steve Elphick played for years with Ten Part Invention, while drummer Toby Hall has distinguished himself in trios led by saxophonist Sandy Evans and jazz pianist Alister Spence. 14 tracks reveal Rollinson’s versatility. He has a light attack on the strings and I found that, to fully appreciate the intensity of his playing, the volume needed to be increased. Rollinson’s seven compositions are varied and highly thoughtful. The other tracks are jazz standards (Alone Together, Jitterbug Waltz, etc) and a venture into the blues with Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground. The music is low-key, soft, even cool, the sort of intimate music one might have enjoyed at a late-night jazz club.
[Note: When the new design of The Australian’s Review supplement was inaugurated on April 13, 2019, music reviews were shortened. Henceforth the lead review would be 370 words (instead of 480) and short reviews would be 150 words (instead of 280). The above review was the first in the new 150-word format.]
Ben Winkelman Trio
Published in the Weekend Australian, May 4, 2019
Pianist Ben Winkelman’s fifth album is so good that, ironically, its overwhelming brilliance may limit its appeal. It is so innovative, and played with such power, that the listener is left open-mouthed. Still, it creates a mystique which I for one find fascinating. Winkelman, imbued with a restless musical intelligence and an impeccable knowledge of the piano keyboard, was born in Oregon, grew up in Melbourne, and has lived in New York since 2010. Recorded in New York Balance features Australian bassist Matt Penman and American drummer Obed Calvaire. Nine compositions are from Winkelman and one from Thelonious Monk. Winkelman is most exploratory in his treatment of time and pulse but, even when the rhythms and time signatures in the music are complicated and ambiguous, three brilliant musicians fly through the music with faultless virtuosity. To take on this album, however, be prepared for a formidable challenge.
Published in the Weekend Australian, May 11, 2019
Inspired by The Alchemist, a novel by the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, this album brings together five brilliant young musicians, all in their early twenties, who will be household names in Australian jazz tomorrow. Composer Lachy Hamilton (tenor saxophone), Thomas Avgenicos (trumpet) and Matt Harris (piano) are supported by the splendid Harry Morrison (bass) and Patrick Danao (drums), who distinguished themselves on last year’s James Morrison album Midnight To Dawn. With this instrumentation such a quintet can be categorized as hard-bop, and certainly it has one foot in this camp. But there are other camps here, and the relentless high-energy of hard-bop is leavened by the adoption of soft, open time-feels, confirming the truism that when a rhythm section is light and dancing, the soloists are so much more expressive and ruminative. Look out for pianist Matt Harris in future. Here is a young musician with the X factor.