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.