Melbourne pianist-composer and bandleader John McAll has released a follow-up to his 2009 recording Black Money.
The latest personnel, a sextet, playing six of McAll's originals, comprises some of the top names in Australian jazz. The high standard of solos throughout is evident from the funky opener, I Love Black and I Hate Love. In that lead-in track soloists are McAll on circumfluent piano with fast flourishes, followed by the wonderful tonality and exploratory murkiness of Adam Simmons's contra alto clarinet using an occasional musical snort; finally, David Rex's lift-off alto speeds through the changes over Sam Bates's punctuating drums.
The fastest tempo of the collection, and the longest piece, is Refugee, in an Afrobeat style with a smartly arranged declamatory theme. This again features Rex's skilled alto soloing, as well as Jordan Murray's agile trombone, Simmons's flying contribution on tenor sax, and the leader's fluid pianistic ideas, all culminating in an impressive, theme-oriented drum solo.
True to its title, Mirrors begins with a shimmering piano, moving to a pretty ensemble theme with semi-classical overtones and a romantic trombone solo, plus a descriptive piano sequence that reflects the opening amid swinging improvisation. The abdomen-moving sounds of the contra alto clarinet are advantageously employed by Simmons's ingenuity in the eastern undercurrents of Assassin.
These are all strongly illustrative compositions, expertly arranged and played in the solo work and in the section passages, each having an individual voice with something of interest to say.
RATING: 4 stars