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

Iron in the Blood Jeremy Rose & The Earshift Orches­tra ABC/UMA This is an ex­ten­sive work of broad mu­si­cal, his­tor­i­cal and nar­ra­tive scope. It’s a mu­si­cal adap­ta­tion of Robert Hughes’s iconic Aus­tralian his­tor­i­cal work The Fa­tal Shore: The Epic of Aus­tralia’s Found­ing (1986), com­plete with nar­ra­tion by Philip Quast and Wil­liam Zappa.

Com­poser, con­duc­tor and sax­o­phon­ist Jeremy Rose has or­ches­trated jazz-based music as ex­po­si­tion and am­bi­ence for this enor­mous work, as­sisted by fund­ing from the Aus­tralia Coun­cil for the Arts, per­formed by Rose and the 18-piece orches­tra.

As the cover notes by Paul Grabowsky state: “Rose’s music deftly sum­mons up the prove­nance of the new ar­rivals [to Aus­tralia] with ref­er­ence to folk song, fife and drum marches and a hint of the 18th-cen­tury draw­ing room.”

Aus­tralia’s early his­tory is ex­pertly por­trayed in 11 tracks of uniquely blended nar­ra­tive doc­u­men­tary and jazz com­po­si­tion. From the First Fleet’s ar­rival in 1788 through un­til Hughes’s words of sum­ma­tion, this doc­u­men­tary holds the at­ten­tion on both mu­si­cal and de­scrip­tive lev­els.

The ar­range­ment fea­tures var­i­ous so­los through­out, no­tably Rose’s so­prano sax al­ter­nately float­ing, climb­ing and drift­ing over the orches­tra in Time Im­memo­rial Pts 1 & 2. Nu­mer­ous other so­los fea­ture Matt Kee­gan on tenor sax, Paul Cut­lan on bari­tone sax, Cal­lum G’Froerer on trum­pet, James Ma­caulay on trom­bone and sev­eral oth­ers.

The music en­livens and drama­tises the nar­ra­tive, which at times is fear­ful and cruel and is oc­ca­sion­ally up­lift­ing, but the or­ches­tra­tions al­ways add de­pic­tions and dra­matic il­lus­tra­tion to this ab­sorb­ing doc­u­men­tary.

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