The Bitter Suite is my new jazz recording, out now on ABC Jazz. There are nine pieces for jazz sextet in the suite, including an arrangement of a piano piece by Alexander Scriabin, a visionary, eccentric Russian composer who died in 1915. The pieces are a response to music I wrote more than 20 years ago for the albums ‘Tee-Vee’ (1992) and ‘Viva Viva’ (1993) and mark a new direction for me in terms of ensemble writing.
The playing on this recording, made by James Kennedy at the ABC studios in Sydney in November 2012, is simply extraordinary. With Jamie Oehlers on tenor saxophone, Andrew Robson on alto and soprano saxophones, James Greening on trombone and the killer rhythm section of Cameron Undy bass and Simon Barker drums, I could not hope for a better band.
The pieces are not exactly easy, with some strange metrical things on top of strange harmonic things, but it is supposed to be fun to play, and fun to listen to. I think of the pieces as self-portraits in which special figures in my life, both living and long gone, are hovering in the background.