Tag Archives: Jex Saarelaht

LIMINAL — JEX SAARELAHT TRIO

Liminal

CD REVIEW

4 stars

Jazzhead

Liminal opens with a closing. Saarelaht sums up Closing, written for a surgeon to whom he sent the piece, but from whom he never heard back, with the succinct subtitle “having dealt with a point infarct”. I had to look that up, but this piece feels more substantial than the eradication of “a small localised area of dead tissue resulting from failure of blood supply”.

Strength comes to mind. Its engrossing, compelling nature is fitting to open an album of Saarelaht originals that is often robust and — even in its understated parts — retains a certain directness and brawn. The composer regards it as a snapshot of the trio, formed 20 years earlier, in transition.

As in his 2010 quartet album Fiveways, with Niko Schauble on drums, Jonathan Zwartz on bass and Julien Wilson on sax, Saarelaht honours the departed. Five-nineteen is revisited for bassist Stuart Speed, Liminal is for drummer Peter Jones and Ivory Cutlery is for Scottish poet, comic author and songwriter Ivor Cutler. The album notes also mention Gil Askey, who died in April.

Liminal was also a live recording, this time at Bennetts Lane in October 2013 at the Esto-Cubist Jazz Festival and this time with Philip Rex on double bass joining Schauble and Saarelaht, the trio responsible for Fridays, Late.

This is a superb line-up. Rex’s inventive excellence is on display especially in the title track and alone in the opening of Five-nineteen, which develops swing powerful enough to qualify as a form of renewable energy. Trio members demonstrate empathy, yet preserve their independence, but the result is always cohesive.

Then Again, inspired by Andrea Keller‘s take on a Bela Bartok composition, allows Saarelaht room for expansive, yet intricate and light reflections. Splendidly laid back Ivory Cutlery again exhibits delicate finery on the keyboard followed by spacious, strong bass.

The final, and longest, track on an album that seems to end too soon, is Fiveways. It gathers intensity on a slow burn before exemplary stick work by Schauble that understandably draws applause, fades back and then gathers force again as this trio grabs and holds us in thrall until the end.

During a couple of long drives recently in remote Western Australia, Liminal was played repeatedly on the rental car stereo. It was sustaining and kept me from succumbing to sleep on the long, straight roads.

ROGER MITCHELL 

Jex Saarelaht

Jex Saarelaht at the Bennetts Lane launch of Liminal in July 2014

 

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LAST CALL: LIMINAL LAUNCH

CD launch flyer for Liminal

CD launch flyer for Liminal

LATE CALL: Jex Saarelaht Trio launches the album Liminal at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Thursday 31 July 2014 at 8.30pm

Tonight there is still time to hear a live rendition of the new release by the Jex Saarelaht Trio, an album that comprises a set of six original pieces recorded live at the Esto-Cubist Jazz Festival, Bennetts Lane, in October last year.

Formed over 20 years ago, the trio, consisting of pianist/composer Jex Saarelaht, double bassist Philip Rex and drummer Niko Schäuble, has an association going back as far with the jazz club, which is also the location of their debut recording Fridays, Late.

On the title, Liminal, the trio’s notes explain it thus: “At the risk of undermining its significance, Jex was thinking of the idea in terms of transition, musically in relation to ambiguity and disorientation, and the development of the written piece through the input/improvisation of the musicians involved, not just in one performance, but over time. The choice of title for the piece in particular was also prompted by friend and drummer Peter Jones’s situation after his diagnosis with brain cancer in early 2011, when he entered a liminal state for quite a while. Ultimately the music here is a snapshot of the trio in a transitional moment, in between everything that has come before in their 20-years-plus together, and whatever may transpire and develop into the future.”

It’s late notice and it’s cold, but this launch will warm the cockles.

ROGER MITCHELL

Liminal is available from Jazzhead

GOING FORWARD / COMING UP

What a horribly over-used phrase “going forward” has become, so much so that upon hearing it I find the contents of my stomach likely to be coming up without delay. But now that I have your attention, here are some gigs that should not be missed unless you are, as I so often am, working night shift.

First, I am upset that I had to miss the nine-piece band performing music from Tim Willis‘s suite Night & Day suite at Bennetts Lane last night (October 9). I missed it during this year’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival and have had to forgo the pleasure again because work comes first.

The good news is that Tim Willis and The End will be back at Bennetts on the following two Wednesdays, October 16 and 23, so I’m hoping for a day shift.

The other good news is that there are more top gigs coming up, starting tonight.

Jex Saarelaht Trio

Jex Saarelaht Trio, Bennetts Lane, 9pm, Thursday October 10

This features pianist Jex Saarelaht, bassist Philip Rex and drummer Niko Schäuble playing original compositions and pieces by Jex’s favourite jazz composers, including Herbie Nichols, Geri Allen, Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill.

Cannonball Live

CD launch — Cannonball, Bennetts Lane, 9pm, Friday October 11

Melbourne-based jazz group Cannonball launches its new CD Live featuring Chantal Mitvalsky on vocals, which was recorded live over two nights at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club “to capture all the excitement, raw energy and `dirt’ of a live performance”.

Inspired by the jazz/groove/soul music of the late saxophone giant Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley, the group does not endeavour to replicate his work but to pay its respects to his music and to harness his infectious groove and joy-filled approach to making music.

The band features Tim Wilson saxophone, Paul Williamson trumpet, Darrin Archer piano, Sam Bates drums, Tom Lee bass.

Live includes 10 songs including rearrangements from the classic albums that Cannonball recorded with Ernie Andrews and Nancy Wilson, plus others from the great American songbook. Expect some originals and lesser known standards at the live performance.

The Vampires

The Vampires (Photo by Karen Steains)

CD Launch: The Vampires, Bennetts Lane, Sunday October 13 at 8.30pm

The Vampires have released their fourth studio album, Tiro, and are on tour nationally throughout October, with appearances at the Manly Jazz Festival and Wangaratta Festival of Jazz with special guest Shannon Barnett, who will be on loan from New York City. The Sydney album launch will be on Thursday, Dec 5 at the Basement with Danaides and Slo Poke Rodriguez.

Jeremy Rose describes the new album as “taking a new direction for the group.”

“This album casts a wide net of influences, but particularly draws from my recent travels and musical studies in Greece and Cuba. The album was also influenced by Nick Garbett‘s travels to the Pacific island of Palau and Colombia, and Alex Boneham‘s sojourn in Rome over the past year. These diverse musical ‘postcards’ come together conceptually well.”

The album also features a debut for Jeremy on tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone and clarinet, as well as Alex Masso’s work on cajon and additional percussion. The album also features two remixes by Paul ‘Tanuki’ Bromley, who has played bass with Brisbane rock band George and now is a producer.

Tour dates:

Sun 13 Oct MELBOURNE, VIC, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, 25 Bennetts Ln, (03) 9663 2856, 8.30pmwww.bennettslane.com Presented by Melbourne Jazz Co-op

Mon 14 Oct ADELAIDE, SA, The Wheatsheaf, 39 George St Thebarton, (08) 8443 4546, presented by COMA 8.00 and 9.00pm tickets $15, $10 for COMA members www.coma.net.au

Thurs 17 Oct GOSFORD NSW, Rhythm Hut, 135 Faunce St, Gosford, workshop from 6.30pm, support from 7.30pm, show at 8.30pm $25 for the workshop + show / $15 for show onlywww.therhythmhut.com.au

Fri 18 Oct BELLINGEN, NSW, #5 Church St dinner from 6pm, show at 7.30pm $12www.5churchstreet.com

Sat 19 Oct GOLD COAST, QLD, Mandala Organic Arts Cafe, 2558 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach, 7.30pm, $5 www.mandalaorganicarts.com.au

Sun 20 Oct BANGALOW, NSW, ‘Sunday Afternoon Jazz at the Bowlo’ – Bangalow Bowling Club with The Vampires plus special guests saxophonist Dave Ades and percussion master Greg Sheehan, 4pm, $15/10 kids under 12 free facebook event

Thurs 31 Oct CANBERRA, ACT The Loft, Majura Medical Centre, Cnr Antill and Cowper Sts Dickson. 8.30pm Tix $15/$12

Sat 2 Nov WANGARATTA, VIC Wangaratta International Jazz Festival, WPAC Memorial Hall, Wangaratta, **With special guest Shannon Barnett 8:00pm www.2013.wangarattajazz.com

Tues 12 Nov NEWCASTLE, NSW The Underground presented by NIMA, The Grand Hotel, cnr Bolton St and Church St, Newcastle, $15/$10 doors at 7.30pm, music from 8pm, www.nima.org.au

Sun 17 Nov WOLLONGONG, NSW, Clifton School of the Arts, 338 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Clifton, 2.00-5.00pm $20, $10, $50 family

Thurs 5 Dec SYDNEY, NSW, ALBUM LAUNCH PARTY* The Basement, 7 Macquarie Pl, Sydney, with Danaides (The Alcohotlicks) and Slo Poke Rodriguez, $20, (02) 9251 2797www.thebasement.com.au

Andrew Robson

Andrew Robson

Premiere  of Andrew Robson’s A Day at the Fair, The Grainger Museum, Royal Parade, University of Melbourne, 2.30pm Sunday October 20

This is exciting. Composer and saxophonist Andrew Robson will let some talented jazz musicians loose on 12 English folk songs collected by the great Australian composer Percy Grainger.

Robson has created a concert-length suite for this song cycle, which will also be performed on October 24 at 6.30pm in Verbrugghen Hall at Sydney Conservatorium of Music (admission is free). At the Melbourne performance, Alister Spence will perform some of the pieces on Grainger’s Estey harmonium.

The line-up is Andrew Robson saxophones, James Greening trombone/pocket trumpet, Alister Spence piano/harmonium, Brett Hirst double bass and Toby Hall drums.

Tickets for October 20 concert cost $20/$15. To book call  (03) 83448822.

ROGER MITCHELL