|photo by Austin Nelson|
His newest album, "Little Giant Still Life" (Greenleaf Music), is a collaboration with the brass quartet known as The Westerlies (trumpeters Riley Mulkerhar and Zubin Hensler plus trombonists Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch) plus drummer Anwar Marshall. The music is inspired by painter Stuart Davis (1892-1964), whose work combined Cubism and Early American Modernism to help usher in the age of "pop art." Take a look of one of his paintings (left) - "Hot Still-Scape for Six Colors - 7th Avenue Style" - and you might be able to see the influence of jazz music and improvisation on the artist.
If "Little Giant Still Life" inspired you to seek out the paintings of Stuart Davis or check out other recordings of The Westerlies or check out Anwar Marshall's work with Fresh Cut Orchestra or Kurt Rosenwinkel, then Dave Douglas has accomplished much with ensemble and recording. The music should not be ignored either - the album is a treat from start to finish.
For more information, go to www.greenleafmusic.com.
Here is the title track:
The program is bookended by two versions of "The Earliest Ending", the first a short performance by the brass while the second features the trio plus guitar. The latter performance stretches out to 6:11. It's quite a contrast with the final track having a series of dynamic climaxes and tempo changes, moving into a powerful "rock" beat that roars to a finish before the piano enters by myself to echo the opening melody.
The concept of playing compositions by two different configurations is intriguing and Jamie Reynolds pulls it off with aplomb. It does not hurt that there are pieces specifically for each of the ensembles (and the solo piece). It would have nice to hear more of The Westerlies (they have the bulk of the shorter pieces) and just as nice to hear more trio interactions with Matthew Stevens but "Grey Mirror" is still a worthwhile experience, one that is fun to go back to again and again.
For more information, go to jamiereynoldspiano.com.
The Necks, a trio (piano, bass, and drums) that is known for its minimalist, long, compositions, often without improvisation. Their live gigs are always improvised. Swanton is also the founder bandleader of The Catholics, a septet that plays music from across the jazz spectrum with nods to music of the Caribbean and Africa (that group is in its 26th year of existence). Swanton has played with many different leaders and groups from his native land but especially for his work with the late saxophonist Bernie McGann.
Knowing all that probably won't prepare you for his absorbing double CD "Ambon" (Bugle Records). Named for an island in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), the place was the site for a bloody battle between the Japanese Army, Navy, and Air Force and a group of soldiers from Australia. Outmatched from the beginning, the island (considered a strategic site in the Pacific theater) fell to the Japanese who used the bases to conduct raids on other combatants, even air raids on Australia.
One of the soldiers captured o the island was Lloyd Swanton's uncle Stuart Mill Swanton. His uncle spent most of his adult life before the joining the Australian Army working with the underprivileged people in the Melbourne area and playing violin. A year after he joined up, his battalion sailed to Ambon. The older Swanton survived the ferocious battle and spent the rest of his life (3 and 1/2 years) as a prisoner of war (In an ironic twist, he died the day before the Japanese surrendered and his camp liberated - but few people survived). Amazingly, Stuart Swanton kept a diary of his captivity and it is now part of the Australian War Memorial.
|Sydney Morning Herald|
There is great power in this story, one that may not resonate with my fellow Americans but anyone who had a parent, grandparent, relatives or friends who served in the Pacific know the horror stories of the prison camps (if you have read the story of Louis Zamperini related in the book and movie "Unbroken") knows these terrible experiences. In the hands and mind of Lloyd Swanton, "Ambon" is a story of hope, love, resistance, survival, and remembrance. You need to hear this music, need to read the story of Stuart Mill Swanton, to remind you of the futility of war and the atrocious consequences.
To find out more and hear excerpts, go to www.rufusrecords.com.au/catalogue/BUG010.html or to www.buglerecords.com.