Noth­ing Per­sonal Syd­ney Jazz Or­ches­tra In­de­pen­dent

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

This 17-piece Syd­ney big band, led and ar­ranged by sax­o­phon­ist Tim Oram, fea­tures nu­mer­ous high-pro­file play­ers and in­cludes sub­stan­tial so­los but never loses sight of its swing her­itage, al­beit in mod­ernistic terms. The ti­tle track writ­ten by US pi­anist Don Grol­nick, opens with pi­ano flour­ishes from Michael Az­zopardi, and af­ter ensem­ble pas­sages moves into a swing­ing, fast-flow­ing pi­ano solo. Lead trum­peter Si­mon Sweeney con­trib­utes a solo in the same rhythms: half time, then a tempo dou­bling, a char­ac­ter­is­tic of the com­po­si­tion, be­fore a call and re­sponse con­clu­sion. An Oram orig­i­nal, Too Funky for the Colonel is a shuf­fle-piece re­flec­tion of Oram’s time in an RAAF band and fea­tures Richard Mae­graith’s funky spot-on tenor solo, as well as a trom­bone blast-off from Mark Barns­ley and Tim Crow’s high-reach­ing New Or­leans trum­pet. John Coltrane’s Naima be­gins in­tro­spec­tively with David Strat­ton’s mys­te­ri­ous out-of-tempo bass guitar pro­ceed­ing into a Latin rhythm es­tab­lished by drum­mer Jamie Ca­sistros for the large ensem­ble’s force­ful state­ments and sym­pa­thetic so­los from Mae­graith and trum­peter Robert Camp­bell. A sec­ond Coltrane piece, Im­pres­sions, cer­tainly has an im­pres­sive tenor ca­denza by Craig Wal­ters and strong ensem­ble ar­rang­ing. Shapes, an evoca­tive piece by Sweeney, in­cludes a quick-run­ning tenor solo from Wal­ters and the al­ways en­gag­ing Az­zopardi pi­ano, plus al­ter­nat­ing, some­times over­lap­ping, sec­tion work be­tween brass and reeds. Oram’s im­pres­sive ar­range­ments main­tain a mod­ern big band feel with­out stray­ing into “out there” ter­ri­tory, and em­ploy in­ter­est­ing sec­tion play­ing. A range of ma­te­rial is ably de­liv­ered with more than a few no­table so­los.

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