Adrian Cunningham: Walkabout (2012)
One of Australia's finest jazz musicians, Saxophonist Adrian Cunningham has been busy leading The Adrian Cunningham Quartet in venues around his country of birth, establishing himself as a fixture in New York's vibrant jazz scene since his relocation in 2008. Recorded in Cunningham's home town of Sydney, Australia, Walkabout is a tasteful slice of modern jazz featuring original statements performed by a core quartet, with backup from a four-piece string section. Known as a multi-instrumentalist, Cunningham adds variety and mix to the music by performing on clarinet and flute, in addition to his saxophones.
The album contains a selection of refreshing new material, which is a testament to Cunningham's talents as a songwriter. The music is bold, sophisticated and sometimes edgy but always engaging, drawing inspiration from his many travels and tenure in New York. With titles such as "Baby Please Don't Go (For New Orleans)," "Barcelona" and "Writer's End (For Williamsburg)," a picture emerges as to why this wanderlust's inspiration comes from traveling around the globe. Though swing may not be an appropriate adjective to describe the major contents of the disc, it certainly applies to "Dancing Into The Sun (For Bahia)," where Cunningham, pianist Bill Risby and drummer Gordon Rytmeister swing to a slight Latin rhythm on the burner of the set.
Taking the music to the edge of the spectrum, "Oasis (For Central Park)" opens with a structureless free jazz introduction by the string section, then turns a bit avant-garde before developing its eventual fusion-like jazz texture. Cunningham returns to the saxophone on the last few pieces, closing the session with the swing jazz statement of "Dancing Into the Sun (For Bahia)" and the blues-tinged "The Long Road Home," climaxed by a solid, high-pitched solo providing convincing evidence of the reed man's tenor chops.
With no covers, vocals or familiar jazz standards, Walkabout runs through a repertoire of original modern music showcasing quality charts by a multi-instrumentalist from down under whose talents as a writer and a performer, are poised to make Cunningham a first-call jazz musician on a world stage.
Track Listing: Prologue: Wanderlust; Chasing The Horizon (For Coogee); Baby Please Don't Go (For New Orleans); In Transit (For Airports); Oasis (For Central Park); Barcelona; Winter; Winter's End (For Williamsburg); In Transit #2; What I Can't Take With Me; Dancing Into The Sun (For Bahia); The Long Road Home.
Personnel: Adrian Cunningham: saxophones, clarinet, flute; Bill Risby: piano; Dave Pudney: bass; Gordon Rytmeister: drums; Phillip Harti: violin; Ursula Nelius: violin; Angela Lindsay: viola; Paul Stender: cello.
Record Label: New Market Music