Big Crea­tures and Lit­tle Crea­tures

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - John McBeath

Murphy’s Law



AN in­creas­ing trend among jazz pro­fes­sion­als is to use un­usual mixes of in­stru­ments. This al­bum from the quin­tet led by Mel­bourne bassist Ta­mara Murphy is an ex­am­ple. Murphy won last year’s PBS Young El­der of Jazz Com­mis­sion, which funded the project. She has added to her acous­tic bass a gui­tar, trom­bone, two drum­mers and elec­tronic sound­scapes for an orig­i­nal suite of five move­ments, each show­cas­ing a dif­fer­ent en­sem­ble mem­ber. Th­ese five Big Crea­tures are in­ter­spersed with three Lit­tle Crea­tures as links be­tween move­ments. The ap­proach ranges from lush tex­tu­ral, semi-clas­si­cal washes to heavy stereo drum­ming, grooving or dreamy trom­bone and am­bi­ent or rock-ori­ented gui­tar; in short, a com­pre­hen­sive sonic di­ver­sity. The first move­ment, A Song for Two Rivers, opens with Jor­dan Mur­ray’s melodic pas­toral trom­bone, un­der­pinned by slow-mov­ing bass and Nashua Lee’s gui­tar os­ti­nato. Rhyth­mic swirling brushes in­tro­duce Pair-cut, stab­bing bass and chordal gui­tar build­ing for a fiery, swing­ing trom­bone solo. A stac­cato trom­bone pat­tern over spaced ped­als of aligned bass, gui­tar and mal­lets leads into an un­ex­pected slash­ing rock gui­tar solo driven by a strong back­beat in Boul­ders Make Strong Friends. Bit­ter Sweet, the fi­nal move­ment, be­gins with force­ful, first beat of the bar res­o­nant bass notes ush­er­ing in qui­etened trom­bone as Murphy ap­plies the bow to a singing bass, the gui­tar echoes with soft chords, and the drums sup­ply a Latin beat. This col­lec­tion is an im­pres­sive set of qual­ity en­sem­ble play­ing al­ter­nat­ing be­tween com­po­si­tional and im­pro­vised per­for­mances.

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