POT BELLY STOVE — JULIUS SCHWING QUARTET

Pot Belly Stove cover

(OVERDUE) CD REVIEW

Independent

3.5 stars

There is a whiff of wildness to Tasmania, a feeling that life and death lurk in the remote regions of coast or bush, that here men and women have had to struggle against the odds for survival. Perhaps the difficulty of finding employment in this rugged and beautiful state epitomises this these days.

If there is a distinctly Tasmanian jazz sound, this Hobart quartet’s debut album may lay claim to it, with some titles of guitarist Julius Schwing‘s originals adding a rural or bush feel. The Owl Song, Potbelly Stove in a Bark Hut, A Good Paddock and Jackson’s Track have a lingering feel that could evoke musings around a camp fire or long gazes across wide landscapes. Hamish Houston‘s bass is often vigorous in these, and Danny Healy on sax is particularly expressive in Jackson’s Track.

If there is a match to that hint of the island’s untamed savagery in the music it can be found in Blackbeard’s Party, which begins with a jolly feel and then takes us into some dissonant blarings of sax over busy guitar excursions. Alfred Jackson fires up a little on drums, but it is saxophone that is mewling and calling for attention before it all dies away to an unexpectedly benign finish.

Waltz Alalullaby is light and bright, then energetic, while A Story of Glory entices Schwing into some nimble fingerwork as toes start tapping in this swinging piece.

Calendula takes a turn into delicious complexity, with playful guitar and sax exchanges before Schwing and Houston bounce off each other.

This debut album often displays subtlety and finesse. I’d like a wilder sequel, but it is definitely one to play while contemplating a visit to the southern state.

ROGER MITCHELL

Potbelly Stove on iTunes

Potbelly Stove on CD Universe

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