Human Music Independent ATM15 is a 15-piece Melbourne big band that includes its director and composer Andrew Murray. The collection of eight Murray originals is masterfully arranged and well recorded — no small achievement when 14 instruments are involved — at Allan Eaton Studio in St Kilda.
Murray’s arrangements make efficient use of his soloists and the large ensemble, sometimes in an overlaying format. Listen to This pushes the tempo along, courtesy of strong work from drummer Hugh Harvey, especially in a lengthy opening solo and in exchanges with the band; racing solos are also provided by Ron Romero’s tenor sax and Darrin Archer on keys.
At the slow end of the tempo scale, Karma features harmonic complexities in the full band voicings, while Derby Jump does what the title suggests, showcasing a sequence of swinging tenor exchanges between Romero and Stephen Blyth. The full band jumps with Basie-like intensity. Dig spreads an invigorating slower soundscape with swing-era echoes using drum assistance and includes a shout-it-out trombone solo from Alistair Parsons. Further inventive arranging opens Early Days to introduce Tim Wilson’s spirited alto sax solo and fine, overriding trumpet work from Callum G’Froerer.
Murray is to be complimented on the huge task of forming this impressive big band, containing several outstanding soloists, and for writing and skilfully arranging these impressive compositions while avoiding musical cliche.