Paul Grabowsky Sextet
IT’S a tribute to the composer’s prodigious talents, and a source of wonderment, that Australian jazz legend Paul Grabowsky wrote and scored these eight originals, plus an arrangement of a classical piece, in a couple of weeks. He says the music draws on everything from the Rolling Stones to Rachmaninoff, with fluid, rhapsodic solos and tight rhythmical grooves.
The non-original is an arrangement of Scriabin’s Piano Prelude, Op 74 with a stately and mysterious solo piano introducing an intriguing, saggy, dragging ensemble theme, topped with Andrew Robson’s soprano saxophone. The opener Paradise also has a classical connection, with quotes from Brahms’s Symphony No 1, in a jaunty medium tempo contemporary piece featuring piano solos that achieve flowing classicism and brief elements of dissonance in a swinging framework.
Cameron Undy’s bass swings in to open Try the Veal, with the piano’s gentle chordal assistance, before the ensemble arrives with Robson’s alto leading and then sooling lyrically. This precedes the authoritative tenor of Jamie Oehlers, James Greening’s declamatory trombone and a swiftly moving bass solo. An up-tempo, post-bop Vexatious showcases Simon Barker’s quickly intelligent drum work, plus the saxophonists’ and muted trombone solos, all underscored by Grabowsky’s always important but never controlling piano.
Bringing together some of the strongest players on the Sydney jazz scene, plus Oehlers from Perth, this album, one of Grabowsky’s best, features inspired solos, rich complexity and a silky smoothness in superb interpretations of imaginative compositions.