States of Play
States of Play
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.