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

Place to Be

Alex Stu­art

Gaya Mu­sic

GUI­TARIST Alex Stu­art grad­u­ated from the Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity in Can­berra in 2005 and moved to Paris, where he re­leased his de­but quar­tet al­bum Around in 2011. This new collection re­tains sax­o­phon­ist Stephane Guil­laume on three tracks but Stu­art has added three French play­ers for his cur­rent quar­tet: sax­o­phon­ist Irv­ing Acao, Chrisophe Wallemme on bass, and drum­mer An­toine Banville. Stu­art has writ­ten seven of these eight tracks in styles he clas­si­fies as “a real mix”. It’s cer­tainly that, with the com­poser’s in­ter­ests rang­ing across con­tem­po­rary jazz, In­dian clas­si­cal mu­sic, African and Latin Amer­i­can styles and in­die rock. There are clues to most of those gen­res among these tracks: the sole ex­ter­nal piece, Bjork’s

Where is the Line, fea­tures wild­fire sax fly­ing over a rhyth­mic rock riff, fol­lowed by Stu­art’s deftly speed­ing gui­tar. The ti­tle piece has a strong, gui­tar-led African rhyth­mic feel as two sax­o­phones sup­ply an or­na­mented theme, leading into a duo break­out of fast-flow­ing sax and hy­per­ac­tive drums. Pour Vous is a qui­eter num­ber with a softly pleas­ant melody, grad­u­ally build­ing with mys­te­ri­ous gui­tar chords and in­creas­ingly heav­ier beats as a sax solo lifts off and en­er­gises. There’s a deeply de­scrip­tive line to Snow Fall­ing on the Crests of the Waves as sax and gui­tar me­an­der calmly, slowly build­ing enough ten­sion for the sax to scram­ble into soar­ing high ve­loc­ity. Stu­art’s com­po­si­tions are var­ied and evoca­tive, ar­ranged in thought­ful, com­pos­ite ways while al­low­ing suf­fi­cient free­dom for ef­fec­tive so­los.

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