Eric Myers Jazz

work in progress

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.

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JAZZ

LITTLE DID THEY KNOW

ANGELA DAVIS

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Independent

Three-and-a-half stars

Published in the Weekend Australian, August 3, 2019

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This unusual album, featuring the Melbourne alto saxophonist Angela Davis, is almost wholly concerned with melodic beauty, one of the many facets of jazz. The music is quiet and intimate, without the histrionics and technical displays which might have dominated such a release. Davis is a careful, disciplined saxophonist, with a pleasingly limpid tone, not unlike that of the legendary Paul Desmond. Davis chose her accompanists well. Pianist Tony Gould has a rare ability to establish an exquisite mood, and sustain it at length. A musician of great depth, his playing matches beautifully the artistic direction chosen by Davis. The ubiquitous bassist Sam Anning is faultless, as always. Half of the eight compositions are lyrical, well-crafted originals by Davis with the other half by Americans, and the classical composer Handel. This is jazz consciously situated in the realm of chamber music.

Eric Myers

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JAZZ

COUNTERPART

SEAN FORAN & STUART McCALLUM

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 Naim Records

Three-and-a-half stars

Published in the Weekend Australian, August 10, 2019

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The music here is restful and appealing, but does not particularly grab me. It features much-awarded Brisbane keyboardist Sean Foran with UK guitarist Stuart McCallum. Recording in Manchester, they play lyrical, thoughtful solos over a lush bed of electronic sound. The music has a pastoral ambience, if not a gentle country/rock flavour. Sam Vicary (bass) and John Parker (drums) are on some tracks. Nine compositions explore unusual time signatures, such as the opening track Stasis, which is in 5/4. While the clever playing is impressive, some listeners may find a subtle jerkiness in the time-feels unsettling. The term “ambient jazz” used to refer to soft, undemanding music which enabled the listener to float in a meditative haze. While this lovely album tends in that direction, the music is more substantial than decorative. Still, I detect lengthy preparation, at the expense of spontaneity.

Eric Myers

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JAZZ

KINDNESS, NOT COURTESY

SPIROGRAPH STUDIES

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Independent

Four stars

Published in the Weekend Australian, August 24, 2019

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Jazz of startling originality, difficult to categorize, has been streaming out of Melbourne for years. Kindness, Not Courtesy is an example. Seven originals by bassist Tamara Murphy and one by drummer James McLean are generally ruminative and minimalist, featuring beautiful harmonic changes. One might call this genre “textural jazz”, whereby no particular soloist dominates the sound mix with technical virtuosity. This is a collaborative venture with four players contributing sensitively to the whole. Still, there is individuality here. Lyrical pianist Luke Howard, while often unobtrusive, can also project strongly, with a very clear voice. Guitarist Fran Swinn, with a pleasing Bill Frisell influence, is a skilled conversationalist in the mix. While there is an appealing stillness here, the music also flares out, showing the influence of rock elements, while its inner music retains the majesty of jazz.

Eric Myers