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Ambitious, passionate, but at times a little tentative, the debut recording from Sydney, Australia-based Trio Apoplectic focuses primarily on original composition, as well as one contribution each from jazz giants Thelonious Monk ("Boo Boo's Birthday") and Mal Waldron ("Fire Waltz").
Waldron was Billie Holiday's pianist in the late '50s and the composer of the classic "Soul Eyes." His later compositions tended to be less memorable other than as effective stimuli to improvisation, making it a brave act for this free form trio to include "Fire Waltz" on its debut, though it does a mighty fine job. The album is dominated by alto saxophonist Dave Jackson's melodic musicianship and undeniable talent, leading the trio's fervent and unwavering embrace of rhythm and attack as it spins out obtuse harmonic variations.
Drummer Alex Masso provides the necessary funk and shines with skill throughout, while double-bassist Abel Cross is ever-creative, walking confidently on the disc's highlight, Masso's "Sunday Arvo." This free-flowing ambient piece evokes the feel of its title and showcases the band as one that not only pays attention to mood, tempo and dynamics but also form, structure and developmental skills in ways that don't retard its creative aims. These ambitious musicians are all recent graduates of the New South Wales Conservatory of Music, which aims to inspire passion in all of its graduates.
While tentative at times, it is a debut recording, and this collection, from three players who deeply understand the concept of ensemble, is both truly satisfying and a harbinger of even better things to come.
Track Listing: Dynamite; Details of How To Get APOPLECTIC On You License Plate; Windy; Fire Waltz; Skyblocks; Boo Boo's Birthday; Cann River; Sunday Arvo.
Personnel: Dave Jackson: alto saxophone; Abel Cross: double-bass; Alex Masso: drums.
Barry O'Sullivan is the presenter/producer of "A Jazz Hour," which is broadcast twice weekly and nationally across Australia via the Community Radio Network and streamed live each Tuesday from 11.00am AEST & AEDST- @ www.rbm.org.au .