Jazz

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Eric My­ers

The Out­siders Ross McHenry Trio First Word Records This is a bril­liant al­bum by three out­stand­ing mu­si­cians: Ross McHenry (elec­tric bass) and Matthew Sheens (pi­ano) are from Adelaide and Myele Man­zanza (drums) is from Welling­ton, New Zealand. Vir­tu­osos all, they breeze through eight of McHenry’s com­plex com­po­si­tions with dis­dain­ful ease. This is a highly evolved ver­sion of fu­sion mu­sic, the blend­ing of jazz har­monies and rock rhythms that came into jazz in the 1970s. Some may con­sider this al­bum a blast from the past but it is played with such with­er­ing bril­liance and over­pow­er­ing mu­si­cal­ity that it breathes new life into what was once a tired genre. McHenry’s com­po­si­tions are not the nor­mal ve­hi­cles of theme, then so­los and re­turn to the theme. I hear them in­stead as a se­ries of sonatas for jazz trio, as one might find in clas­si­cal mu­sic. The three mu­si­cians breeze through rhyth­mi­cal mine­fields seam­lessly, ef­fec­tively re­al­is­ing the sta­ple diet of jazz: the build-up and re­lease of tension. Sheens nat­u­rally dom­i­nates the al­bum and he is in­deed a rare tal­ent. His rhap­sodic in­ter­ludes are very beau­ti­ful and he is not averse to es­tab­lish­ing a repet­i­tive fig­ure around which Man­zanza so­los. Man­zanza, son of Con­golese mas­ter drum­mer Sam Man­zanza, shows he has in­her­ited ev­ery bit of his fa­ther’s tal­ent. The spirit of Jaco Pas­to­rius is alive in McHenry’s play­ing. He, Sheens and Man­zanza (all about 30) are young enough to play with the en­thu­si­asm of youth but old enough to play with the un­der­state­ment of ma­tu­rity.

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