The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews -

Sakura Or­bitur­tle Stu­dio Songs

Sakura (Cherry Blos­som) recorded in Ja­pan by Stu­dio Songs, a jazz la­bel be­gun in 2009, ini­ti­ates a col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­ject be­tween Aus­tralia and Ja­pan, and fea­tures a quar­tet with two mu­si­cians from each coun­try. Pi­anist Steve Barry, sax­o­phon­ist Dave Jack­son and drum­mer Ko Omura stud­ied to­gether at Syd­ney Con­ser­va­to­rium of Mu­sic and have been de­vel­op­ing their cre­ative con­cepts across sev­eral years. They’re joined by vet­eran Ja­panese bassist Yoshio Suzuki. Barry’s ti­tle track com­po­si­tion is the opener in an en­er­getic 5/4 groove, pro­vid­ing a per­fect ve­hi­cle for Jack­son’s cere­bral ex­plo­ration on alto, sup­ported by big, strong pi­ano chords and Omura’s em­phatic drum­ming. Barry’s solo swirls, weaves and flows spirit­edly around the ex­tended har­monies. Omura’s piece Lonely Specs is a waltz with a pretty melody on which Jack­son’s alto floats beguil­ingly, lead­ing into a fugue-like be­gin­ning of a pi­ano solo that con­tin­ues with cease­less in­ven­tion. Another of the drum­mer’s com­po­si­tions, So Long, opens with a solo pi­ano ca­denza be­fore the main theme, with its evoca­tive mi­nor third struc­ture. Jack­son has con­trib­uted two orig­i­nals: Pirou­ette, where the alto spi­rals and twirls as the ti­tle pre­dicts, and Into Stel­lar, in a slower tempo at first for the ab­stracted alto’s con­structed flight, ahead of the pi­ano’s solo, in­creas­ing speed and Suzuki’s in­ven­tive bass se­quence. The closer, Co­daesque, by Barry, is a slow, 12-bar tra­di­tional bluesy num­ber with another ar­tic­u­late bass solo and the ensem­ble oth­er­wise stay­ing on the ex­pres­sive melody to con­clu­sion. It’s a fine mu­si­cal col­lec­tion and an in­spir­ing ex­am­ple of in­ter­na­tional jazz co-op­er­a­tion in per­for­mance and com­po­si­tion.

John McBeath

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