Monday, May 07, 2018

NZ Music Month: Sustenance - Food for Thought

Sustenance: Food For Thought (Southbound)
Phil Broadhurst (p) Colin Hemmingsen (ts/ss) Paul Dyne (b) Roger Sellers (d)
Phil Broadhurst Colin Hemmingsen Paul Dyne Roger Sellers New Zealand Jazz

I think it's fair to say that Sustenance is essentially the Phil Broadhurst Quartet, but of the quartet, he is the musician with whom I am least familiar. Broadhurst also represents the geographic isolation between scenes that I've mentioned previously - my having only passing familiarity with the NZ jazz world outside of my local (Wellington) scene – an issue that this listening project is addressing. I did tune into his Radio NZ program, “The Art of Jazz,” on a pretty regular basis, maybe that's when I first heard Food for Thought. I remember he played plenty of artists/recordings I hadn't heard before. So I'm well overdue giving him bit of attention. He has numerous albums as a leader and one of the earlier trio outings is in the queue on the shelf.

Colin plays a lot more soprano on this album than I expected. In fact, there's more soprano than tenor, which is surprising as I always think of Colin as a tenor player. As a soprano player myself, I'll take it. There is a lyrical aspect to Colin's playing that not many people talk about. It pops up in many of his solos, even if just for a moment, they make a nice contrast to the more notey line playing and it's these moments that stick out the most to me – the solos on “Harbour” and “Food for Thought” came to mind first but there are examples across the album. Maybe it was all those years playing classical music?

I'm used to hearing Roger in standards/be-bop orientated settings and it's nice hearing him in a more contemporary setting (not that his playing is all that different). Throughout this series I have been (and will be) listening to a fair amount of Frank Gibson Jr. I find Roger's playing more understated but no less swinging or creative. He draws plenty of colors from the kit and one that grabbed my ear was the cymbal sound behind P.D's solo on “Why Me?” - it's the only time he utilizes that sound on the album. Paul is rock solid as usual. One spot that popped out at me was his playing behind Broadhurst on the title track – underpinning the group whilst staying melodically creative.

I don't have that many recordings of P.D and Roger. At first I wasn't sure why, but then I realized that back in the day I heard them play together (and individually) live on such a regular basis that it probably didn't occur to me to pick up recordings. C.L Bob, Jeff Henderson and some others come to mind that I heard live a lot but didn't get their albums (I did get the 1st C.L Bob album but that was before I heard them live). The same is true for Colin, although he wasn't gigging nearly as much, I did hear him play a lot... but do lessons and classes count?

It would be great if the earlier vinyl-only albums got reissued... how about a Sustenance box set?

This week I've enjoyed playing the melodies of “Dilemma” and “Harbour.” Interestingly, after 
working on the latter, I caught myself singing Mike Nock's “Mossaflo” too (recorded on Climbing and Open Door). Also, I listened to 75% of Sustenance on Radio NZ's “Musical Chairs” - Colin, Roger and Paul (even has an excerpt from the pre-bass days with P.D on clarinet!). 

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