After more than two decades of recording as a sideman and a collaborator, Carl Mackey has finally launched his long awaited “debut” album as a leader.
One of Australia’s finest saxophonists, Carl is renowned for delivering performances of emotionally driven, high energy, hard swinging music that has made him a crowd favourite since he first hit the Perth jazz scene at age 16.
Carl has performed and recorded alongside many of Australia’s leading artists including Dale Barlow, Joe Chindamo, James Morrison and Paul Grabowsky, and international artists including George Garzone, Ari Hoenig, Terell Stafford, John Sneider and Lionel Hampton.
He has studied with Dave Liebman, George Garzone, Bill Evans and Michael Brecker.
His list of support credits include John Scofield, Dianne Reeves, Harry Connick Jnr, The Yellowjackets, Ricki Lee Jones, Ray Charles and James Brown.
11:11 boasts the stellar talents of local legends Tom O’Halloran at the piano, Sam Anning and Pete Jeavons on bass and Ben Vanderwal at the drums.
Album Liner Notes by Paul Grabowsky
There is something about jazz that makes it very hard to define, but you know it when you hear it. It’s a dryness, like a well-made martini: the vermouth a suggestion, a vapour of romance ghosting the spirit’s icy aromatics; it’s the heat produced by the music’s many frictions, notes pulled into duplicitous agreements around a pulse which beats like a human clock with many hands. An icy burn: that’s the jazz I like. The poetry of this music is of the night; the daytime world of time and motion studies become nocturnal studies of motion in time, the musical conversations ache, bay, croon, wail, the rhythms box, bounce and lope, in an irresistible forward progression, arcing brightly.
Carl Mackey’s music has these qualities in abundance. The tradition is paid due homage; this is after all a music which constantly acknowledges its forbears, and its guardian angels attend - Coltrane, Monk, Parker. But this is no tribute album, without character, slavishly adhering to someone else’s rules. These guys play with the conviction of believers and proud owners of their own processes. Their improvisations have the urgency of the now: they are authentic. A language has been absorbed, but a new dialect is spoken.
There is much here to enjoy. The tunes are strong, elegant and craftily arranged. The playing is magisterial; Mackey’s unerring time, notes popped onto his musical fairway with the accuracy of a pro golfer (he is known to play off a low handicap). Tom O’Halloran is a pianist of distinction and originality, choosing his phrases carefully, with great taste, technique, and a sense of occasion which allows him the freedom to improvise two-part inventions across a driving and intense groove laid down by some the nation’s best rhythm aces.
This recording speaks. As we like to say: it plays itself.