Phil Broadhurst Quartet: Delayed Reaction (2012)
For several decades now, pianist Phil Broadhurst has been one of New Zealand's most essential jazz musicians. In addition to his active performance schedule, he is head of the Jazz Studies department at the New Zealand School of Music in Auckland, he hosts a weekly nationwide broadcast called "The Art of Jazz," and he is co-author of Kiwi Real Books: Vol. 1 & 2, a collection of several hundred jazz compositions by New Zealand composers. Broadhurst has won New Zealand's Jazz Record of the Year award three times, and in 2000 he was the first jazz musician to be honored as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).
Yet despite his many achievements, Broadhurst is not content to rest on his laurels, which is perhaps the key to his continued growth as a musician. In 2007 he completed his master's thesis, which explores the life and work of the great French pianist Michel Petrucciani (1962-1999). Delayed Reaction is a direct result of Broadhurst's in-depth studies, a pleasing blend of five Petrucciani compositions along with five songs by Broadhurst that were inspired by Petrucciani's writing and playing.
The CD starts off with a bang with Petrucciani's classic "Brazilian Swing." Broadhurst's arrangement adds a new introduction and coda, and the quartet swings the song to life with verve and style. Broadhurst has a beautiful sparkle to his playing, with an approach to the keys that manages to be both strong and light, and he blends wonderfully with Roger Manins, who plays sax with a rich, personal tone. Broadhurst has fun with Petrucciani's "Looking Up," which he has rearranged as a New Orleans boogaloo, and the Petrucciani composition "La Champagne" is enhanced by lyrics composed and performed by Julie Mason, one of the most noteworthy singers on the New Zealand scene. Mason has a pure, lovely voice, and she delivers the song with just the right touch of melancholy.
Broadhurst's tune "Orange" has a pretty, sprightly melody, and includes a fine bass solo by Olivier Holland, and "Delayed Reaction" is a sensitive meditation on hesitation, with a heartfelt sax solo by Manins. Broadhurst's "Edward" is a double tribute, a samba that honors Pettruciani's Duke Ellington album Promenade with Duke (Blue Note, 1993). The tune has fantastic energy and rhythm, including a cooking drum solo by Alain Koetsier, and provides a further example of this group's versatility and first-rate swing.
Delayed Reaction is a highly enjoyable blend of homage and inspiration. Petrucciani is audible throughout, both in his compositions and his spirit, but Broadhurst is present as well, using his love for Petrucciani's music as a springboard for his own artistic imperative. And the fact that a musician from New Zealand could be so inspired by a musician from France is just further testament to the global language of jazz, which crosses international boundaries with enviable ease.
Track Listing: Brazilian Like; Delayed Reaction; Guadeloupe; Orange; Matai Bay; Pat; Looking Up; La Champagne; Edward; One Night in the Hotel.
Personnel: Phil Broadhurst: piano; Roger Manins: saxophone; Olivier Holland: bass; Alain Koetsier: drums; Julie Mason: vocals (8); Mike Booth: trumpet (6).
Record Label: Ia (independent Artists)