Australia's Jazzgroove Association has been at the forefront in promoting the country's jazz scene for some time. The Association, along with the Australian Arts Council and band member/co-producer, altoist David Theak, join forces to present Dream Wheel, a hard-driving big band project from the sixteen-piece Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra. Recorded live at the Sound Lounge in Sydney, the band produces a modern contemporary jazz sound anchored by sophisticated and challenging big band arrangements.
The album is essentially a collaborative effort with German-based pianist and composer Florian Ross who, except for the finale and Theak original "Bista, contributes all of the compositions as well as piano solos on "Mean MF and "Autumn Things, the latter an interesting take and twist of Joseph Kosma's standard, "Autumn Leaves, with Ross on Fender Rhodes.
The music kicks off with one of the best big band arrangements on "Teen Adventure, led by Theak, who shares the space with trumpeter Simon Forenci and baritone Nick Bowd, both of whom contribute quite inspiring play. The title piece starts off slowly, with Matt Jodrell's trumpet voice directing the band to what eventually turns out to be another fine orchestration featuring, for the first time, the splendid guitar riffs of James Muller.
Ross provides playful comparisons with Harold Arlen's "Come Rain or Come Shine on his swinging "Campaign or Come Swine, rocking the house with Roger Manins' tenor lead and drummer Evan Mannell's closing drum beats. Theak provides a terrific concert closer with the riveting "Bista, where Manins once again delivers with a blistering solo accompanied by Muller and Mannell's rhythmic prowess.
As live recordings go, Dream Wheel is first-rate stuff where the sound quality is high and the enthusiastic Sound Lounge crowd can be heard roaring their approval. The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra delivers one lightning rod of an album, and serves notice that jazz from Down Under has more than arrived and is definitely here to stay.
Track Listing: Teen Adventure; Mean MF; Dream Wheel; Autumn Things; Constance
Personnel: Florian Ross: piano, electric piano, solos (2, 4); David Theak: alto saxophone lead, solos (1, 3); Murray Jackson: alto saxophone; James Muller: guitar, solos (3, 7); Roger Manins: tenor saxophone, solos (6, 7); Brendan Clarke: contrabass; Scott Langley: tenor saxophone; Evan Mannell: drums, solo (7); Nick Bowd: baritone saxophone, solo (1); Darryl Carthew: trumpet lead; Jeremy Barthwick: trombone lead, solo (2); Simon Ferenci: trumpet, solo (1); Lucian McGuiness: trombone, solo (6); Matt Jodrell: trumpet, solo (5); Danny Charmichael: trombone, solo (5); Tim Crow: trumpet; Colin Burrows: bass trombone.
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