Tam O’Shanter Tales
Greening from Ear to Ear
SYDNEY’S outstanding brass instrumentalist (mostly trombone) James Greening has led and appeared in many important Australian jazz groups. This new septet album, featuring an allstar line-up of Sydney players, is so named because Greening composed these works in the inspiring landscape of Tasmania’s Bass Strait coastal community, Tam O’Shanter. The collection jumps into a lively opener, Parallel
Lines, established by Hamish Stuart’s sprightly drums and aided by percussionist Fabian Hevia, and Greening takes off on an energetic trombone solo, followed by Andrew Robson’s free-running alto stoking excitement against the group’s energetic backdrop. Greening brings off an improbable sousaphone solo on a bluesy New Orleans stomper, Lumpy, while Paul Cutlan adds tonal alternatives and fast flight on bass clarinet before the tempo doubles for Gary Daley’s swinging piano solo. After Brett Hirst’s bass line opens Hazara, the leader’s pocket trumpet is pushed to high register over a Middle Eastern rhythm, joined by sympathetic accordion and a wildly explorative bass clarinet. Mood and tempo are relaxed for the lyrical elegance of Sleeping Beauty, introduced by dreamy accordion. It’s back to a trombone lead for another New Orleans bluesy style in Early
Morning. These compositions, finely arranged by Greening, as with his solos, all encompass strong swinging beats, and the skilful ensemble voicings often sound like a larger band.