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

The Bur­den of Mem­ory Jamie Oehlers Quar­tet In­de­pen­dent

★★★★ 1/2 This al­bum of mostly orig­i­nals by sax­o­phon­ist Jamie Oehlers was recorded in New York with the sup­port of Western Aus­tralia’s Depart­ment of Cul­ture and the Arts. Two of Aus­tralia’s fore­most mu­si­cians, Oehlers and pi­anist­com­poser Paul Grabowsky, were joined by top US bassist Reuben Rogers and drum­mer Eric Harland. One of just two stan­dards among these 12 tracks is the 1940 hit for Frank Si­na­tra with Tommy Dorsey’s Or­ches­tra, Polka Dots and Moon­beams, ti­tled And Moon­beams here. It’s taken at the orig­i­nal’s bal­lad tempo and loaded with emo­tive ex­pres­sion. Oehlers’s imag­i­na­tive solo ex­plores the tune’s har­mony with quick melodic ideas, suc­ceeded by a ru­mi­na­tive pi­ano se­quence, build­ing out the chord struc­ture as Harland adds per­cus­sion ef­fects. There are three tracks of “con­ver­sa­tions be­tween friends”, each less than a minute of im­pro­vised duet mo­ments, show­ing, as the leader says, that they’re all on the same page and will­ing to let the mu­sic go where it wants. The Dream­ing was writ­ten specif­i­cally for Rogers to play and, af­ter a pi­ano theme state­ment beau­ti­fully sub­struc­tured by the bassist, the sax in­ter­prets the theme, adding an inspired solo to in­tro­duce a cen­tre­piece of poetic bass mas­tery.

As a mu­si­cal por­trayal of the New York weather dur­ing this record­ing Oehlers wrote Deep Freeze, where the theme man­ages a se­ries of shivers in a dis­guised way and the pi­ano man­i­fests a clever cold­ness. The fi­nal cut, ap­pro­pri­ately Good­bye, is a sor­row­ful solo tenor sax fade-out.

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