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


Sam Bates Trio


MEL­BOURNE drum­mer and com­poser Sam Bates’s trio re­leased its de­but al­bum, Sin­gu­lar­ity, in 2010 and has now recorded this fol­low-up. Bates’s pro­lific com­po­si­tions con­firm an ob­ser­va­tion by US trum­peter Clark Terry that “most — not just many — drum­mers play piano”. Bates couldn’t ask for two bet­ter in­ter­preters of his mu­sic than out­stand­ing bassist Philip Rex and pi­anist Marc Han­naford. While the style here is con­tem­po­rary jazz and there is plenty of solo work, a pulse, of­ten a hard-driv­ing one, is al­ways present so that the mu­sic never strays into ar­rhyth­mic ab­strac­tion. A strong rap­port be­tween the play­ers is ev­i­dent, giv­ing the trio solid in­ter­nal co­he­sion. The slow tempo and stepped rep­e­ti­tion of Make It Stop are com­bined with a pro­found har­monic struc­ture, used in all of Bates’s pieces, which Han­naford ex­ploits beau­ti­fully in his thought­ful solo while the kit fizzes and punc­tu­ates. The opener, He Who

Laughs, opens with spacey chords and a catchy theme as bass and drums smartly un­der­score and the piano be­gins a rac­ing im­pro­vi­sa­tion leading into a highly charged drum solo. A lopsided drum­beat in­tro­duces Rat Res­cue for the piano’s bass end quirky theme, while

Sea­wor­thy uses Rex’s bass for the same pur­pose and later the bass adds its solo voice build­ing to hy­per-fast phrases. For its in­ter­est­ing melodies, ac­com­plished trio play­ing and im­pres­sive flights of im­pro­vi­sa­tion, this al­bum is a wor­thy ad­di­tion to Aus­tralian con­tem­po­rary jazz.

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