Jazz

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

The Grav­ity Project The Grav­ity Project Apollo Sounds This strange al­bum em­anates from Mel­bur­ni­ans Paul Grabowsky (pi­ano) and Rob Burke (sax­o­phones, alto clar­inet). Recorded in Tokyo, the al­bum com­bines Western jazz — par­tic­u­larly its free im­pro­vi­sa­tion strand — with two tra­di­tional Ja­panese in­stru­ments, against a back­ground of sub­tle elec­tronic sounds and a very free jazz rhythm sec­tion. Over­all the mu­sic is highly agree­able. Its most con­tro­ver­sial as­pect is the pres­ence of two rap­pers on three tracks. I’m told by hip-hop en­thu­si­asts that the treat­ment of rap here is per­verse. It’s pos­si­ble that this is an ex­er­cise in de­con­struc­tion by mu­si­cians who are in­tent on push­ing jazz into un­ex­plored ter­ri­tory and re­defin­ing con­ven­tional sounds. Rap is now heard ev­ery­where as muzak; is it not an overblown mu­si­cal genre, ripe for de­con­struc­tion? For much of the al­bum, the koto and shakuhachi play­ers are quiet, if not dif­fi­dent, along­side mas­ter im­pro­vis­ers such as Grabowsky and Burke. How­ever, Ku­niko Obina (koto) and Masaki Naka­mura (shakuhachi) come to the fore in the last two of six tracks. Vine­gar, the sole com­po­si­tion by Burke — with all oth­ers writ­ten by Grabowsky — in­cludes some in­spired in­ter­ac­tion be­tween Burke’s tenor sax­o­phone and Obina’s koto, be­fore Sam An­ning lays down a lovely bass fig­ure that en­ables the en­sem­ble to float and the lis­tener to drift into mu­si­cal beauty. In Grabowsky’s well-known com­po­si­tion Psalm, Naka­mura’s strong, haunt­ing shakuhachi solo en­ables the al­bum to fin­ish on a note of con­sid­er­able tri­umph. This is the most in­no­va­tive and dar­ing al­bum I have heard for some time.

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