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

Sam An­ning Trio Lis­ten/hear Col­lec­tive ★★★★

EACH player in this trio is fore­most in Aus­tralia on his in­stru­ment, al­though ex-Perth bassist Sam An­ning has re­lo­cated to New York. Sax­o­phon­ist Julien Wil­son and drum­mer Al­lan Browne are longterm lu­mi­nar­ies in Melbourne, where the al­bum was recorded. The 11 tracks are com­prised of five pieces by An­ning, one by Wil­son and five wells-elected stan­dards. With the solo bass open­ing es­tab­lish­ing a lyri­cal melody on track one, An­ning’s Cac­tus Flower, two things are ob­vi­ous: the beau­ti­ful res­o­nance of the recorded in­stru­ment and the con­sum­mate artistry of its player. Fol­low­ing that in­tro, shim­mer­ing cym­bals pref­ace the ar­rival of Wil­son’s softly luscious tenor as Browne sketches an out-of-tempo mal­lets back­drop to pro­duce a highly sen­si­tive, beau­ti­ful bal­lad. The first of the stan­dards, Lit­tle White Lies sets a swing­ing medium tempo from the start and as Wil­son starts an ab­sorb­ing, en­mesh­ing solo and the bass walks to Browne’s im­pec­ca­ble beat, the ef­fect is nearly tran­scen­den­tal. Wil­son plays clar­inet on his com­po­si­tion Farewell, with a pretty melody and a south-of-the-bor­der sound that he or­na­ments en­gag­ingly with as­sis­tance from a cli­mac­tic bass solo. So­prano sax and bowed dou­ble bass pro­vide a note­wor­thy open­ing to An­ning’s Through the Open Win­dow and the bass clar­inet makes an ef­fec­tive reprise of Cac­tus Flower. Wil­son’s warm tenor tone brings a lazy, sunny mood to Billy Stray­horn’s Lit­tle Brown Book, grad­u­ally strength­en­ing through­out, and the horn’s lower reg­is­ter is put to ex­cel­lent ef­fect in The Best Thing for You is Me, fol­lowed by very smart and fast so­los by all three. A vir­tu­osic trio col­lec­tion us­ing in­ter­est­ingly var­ied in­stru­men­ta­tion.

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