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.