Nothing Personal Sydney Jazz Orchestra Independent
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.