Big Creatures and Little Creatures
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.