Place to Be
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.