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.
Domino Recording Co
Published in the Weekend Australian, September 28, 2019
Given the extraordinary flowering of creativity amongst Australian women jazz musicians in recent years, I was expecting much from this all-female UK septet. Nérija includes two brass, two saxes, and three rhythm, including Nubya Garcia (tenor sax/flute) who was in Australia in 2018 for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. A rather gentle, understated player, her two tenor solos highlight the album. Garcia has also composed the title track Blume, a lovely brief tune, which features vocal backing lines from the group members. For some reason, her flute solo on EU (Emotionally Unavailable) is irritatingly buried in the sound mix. The repertoire is all original, by Nérija members. In a nutshell, this is an album of rather conventional high energy jazz/rock fusion which, in today’s world, is a somewhat tired genre. Still, the music here is very well played.
JASON BRUER & HAMMERHEAD
Published in the Weekend Australian, October 12, 2019
The Hammerhead shark is known for its sensory qualities, and is harmless to humans. What better name for an Australian jazz group? Saxophonist Jason Bruer’s exceedingly clever arrangements of his ten compositions creatively upgrade and vary the conventional theme-solos-theme format. He makes good use of the brilliant pianist Greg Coffin, whose solos and incursions are one of the album’s many strengths. In Blues For Jonesy, Coffin is good enough to encapsulate the essence of the funk/blues genre in a brief solo. An outstanding rhythm section is completed by Brendan Clarke (double bass) and Alex Hirlian (drums). Other than Bruer, Hammerhead’s front-line includes Andrew Robertson (alto sax/flute), and alternating trumpeters Cam McAllister and Simon Ferenci, all consummate professionals. Turning Point recalls the great days of hard-bop, but has enough contemporary influences to locate the music in the present.
THE COMPOSERS’ VOICE
Published in the Weekend Australian, October 19, 2019
This lovely album, subtitled ‘Celebrating Australian Women Composers’, has nine songs, written primarily by leading Australian women jazz artists. Interesting works, cleverly arranged to cover various time-feels and jazz styles, they are sung beautifully by Freedman Fellowship finalist Elly Hoyt. A strong feminist message comes through the lyrics, which are often literal, rather than poetic. The greatest appeal of the album however is found in the solos and backing provided by an ensemble of stellar jazz musicians: Andrea Keller (piano), Sam Anning (bass), James McLean (drums), Julien Wilson (saxophone & clarinet), Mat Jodrell (trumpet), and James Macaulay (trombone). These great players enhance the compositions throughout, such as in Sonja Horbelt’s Like All Things New, performed simply by vocal and piano. Jodrell adds a stirring trumpet solo which enables this rather earnest love song to have real emotional impact.