jazz

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

States of Play

States of Play

Newmarket

★★★★✩

THIS de­but al­bum by Melbourne en­sem­ble States of Play, led by marimba-vi­bra­phon­ist Elissa Goodrich, evolved from an ac­claimed world-jazz col­lab­o­ra­tion of Goodrich and com­poser Clare Shan­non. Most of the al­bum is jazz-in­flu­enced mu­sic in­spired by Span­ish forms, but two tracks fore­shadow the group’s forth­com­ing al­bum fea­tur­ing adap­ta­tions from Bach’s Cello Suite No 3. Those two pieces, Into the Con­tin­uum I and

II, make use of Phil By­wa­ter’s alto sax as the vibes — per­haps a shade un­der-recorded — in­ter­weave; the sec­ond part open­ing with Ta­mara Mur­phy’s acous­tic bass is joined by Daniel Far­ru­gia’s mal­lets on cym­bals, be­fore the sax­o­phone plays the theme over cool and sooth­ing vibes. While the Bach deriva­tion is not im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous, both works have a melod­i­cally pleas­ant, re­lax­ing sound and can stand on their own merit. Of the other nine Span­ish-style tracks, Com­pas be­gins with a hand­clap­ping fla­menco beat and de­vel­ops into vibes, bass and drums, with By­wa­ter adding An­dalu­sian flute, then strong jazz-based so­los on bass, flute and vibes, build­ing to an en­sem­ble crescendo.

Ni­nos en La Plaza has an ev­i­dent Span­ish-tinged melody and struc­ture pro­vid­ing a ba­sis for the most force­ful jazz-im­pacted so­los from bass and sax. Con­ver­sa­tion in 3: Part I is at the op­po­site end of the rhyth­mic spec­trum, float­ing lan­guidly with vibes and re­strained bass to in­tro­duce a slow bal­lad ap­proach for the alto. This is an un­usual al­bum, blend­ing jazz ideas and im­pro­vi­sa­tions into Span­ish modes and rhythms, us­ing the soft, mel­low tones of the vi­bra­phone with sax or flute as the front­line.

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