jazz The Re­mem­ber­ing & For­get­ting of the Air Jonathan Zwartz In­de­pen­dent ★★★✩✩

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

ONE of nu­mer­ous ad­van­tages to be­ing among Aus­tralia’s lead­ing mu­si­cians is that it’s never dif­fi­cult to per­suade other top play­ers to join your projects. This is es­pe­cially true of Syd­ney bassist Jonathan Zwartz, win­ner of two Bell Awards in 2010 for his stel­lar sex­tet al­bum The Sea. Most of the per­form­ers on that are in­cluded on his lat­est al­bum, al­though this time it’s a larger group of nine from the cream of Aus­tralian jazz play­ers. The mood is set by a rus­tic quo­ta­tion from Amer­i­can Pulitzer prize-win­ning poet Mary Oliver, a spe­cial­ist on the nat­u­ral world and dream im­agery. The tem­pos on th­ese Zwartz orig­i­nals are all slow to medium in a mostly main­stream style of of­ten quite dreamy tex­tures. Pi­anist Bar­ney McAll opens

Sugar Hill Pic­nic with a bluesy feel of al­most som­no­lent re­lax­ation, lifted some­what by James Green­ing’s gutsy, growl­ing trom­bone and Phil Slater’s New Or­leans trum­pet. A sim­i­lar at­mos­phere per­vades Wait Un­til the Morn­ing where Richard Maegraith de­liv­ers a soul­ful tenor sax solo of al­most heart­break­ing in­ten­sity. How­ever, the en­sem­ble horns seem to wan­der aim­lessly. More of a jog-along tempo opens

Shim­mer and con­tin­ues as cas­cad­ing tre­ble pi­ano flows over the pret­tily voiced front­line. No one is chal­lenged here as the slower tem­pos and long en­sem­ble notes im­part a cer­tain kind of fragility, but mu­si­cians of this cal­i­bre are ca­pa­ble of far more ad­ven­tur­ous and ex­ploratory work. A bonus CD with two lengthy tracks is in­cluded, both at a medium tempo: Henry’s High­life’s bouncy theme is ac­com­pa­nied by cling-cling pop-style pi­ano chords, but lift-off so­los from tenor, trom­bone and Stephen Mag­nus­son’s gui­tar in­ject ex­cite­ment.

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