Saturday, July 11, 2020

Music for Commuting: A Bunch of Broadhurst

For the last couple of weeks the I've shared the ride to work with a handful of Phil Broadhurst albums. It's nice hearing the same (almost) personnel across the four albums. Roger Manins (ts) and Olivier Holland (b) are there all the way and following Delayed Reaction, drummer Alain Koetsier is replaced by Cameron Sangster. When not listening at 100% it's interesting to hear what pops out and sticks with you... and that forms the basis of this post.

Delayed Reaction might be the odd one out (solo disc aside) or at least the one I haven't dug as much. It splits Broadhurst's tunes with those of Michel Petrucciani (whereas the other albums feature Broadhurst compositions). There's a latin-type thing and general cleanliness (?) running through the album that I'm not much of a fan of, but Roger brings plenty of energy that gets things moving (although sometimes it almost feels out of place).
New Zealand Jazz

Flaubert's Dance has quite a warm, mellow vibe. Usually I listened to these albums on the way to work but this one hit the spot when I wanted to mellow out at the end of the day during the ride home (rather than caffeine music to kick off the day). Roger's tone has some added smoothness to it here which works nicely. The trumpet of Mike Booth eases into the group on three tracks (he made a single appearance on Delayed Reaction) and here, and on the albums that follow, his melodic approach compliments the busier Manins.

Of the five albums Panacea was the only one with which I was familiar. Roger is on form throughout and it’s no fluke that his discography has grown rapidly over the last 10 years or so (yet surprisingly, I don’t have a lot of his work as a leader yet). He is the go-to player if you’re looking for some contemporary tenor in this part of the world. He’s not all rip, shit or bust though – the opening of “Inverted” is one example of his lyrical side. Another thing that really pops out on “Inverted” is the pedal steel of Neil Watson. And it’s a nice touch (and an ear grabber) that he emerges about half way through the track (Watson also makes an appearance on “Knee Lever”). And then there's "Japanese Shadows", the sole trio track. Once again, it breaks things up nicely.

Positif opens up with some great energy (perhaps a flow-on from having an audience present) and the album really grew on me with each listen. You can hear the development over the span of the recordings and with the latter two, the quintet comes together and sounds like a really solid group. The horns and piano only on "Sorrento Sunset" was nice way to break things up.

Solo jazz records are not a common thing on the New Zealand jazz scene, so I was keen to hear the new release, Soliloquy. I recognized "Sambal" immediately, although I hadn't listened to Sustenance's Food for Thought in a long time - it's funny how some things stick in your brain. And another track that popped out was "You Stepped Out of a Dream", as it's the only standard across the discs. With a few exceptions, I tend to prefer hearing Kiwi's playing original material as it's pretty rare that I'm really taken by standards. And why so few solo records?

Each of these albums are worth more attention than I have afforded them, and no doubt I will return to them again. If I had to recommend any, I'd go with Panacea or Positif for the ensemble records and Soliloquy if you're after something a little more introspective.

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