Julien Wilson - Tenor/Soprano saxes & Bass Clarinet
Stephen Magnusson - Guitars
Steve Grant - Accordion
Based in Melbourne, Australia, The Julien Wilson Trio was formed in 2004, but the members have been performing together in different configurations since the late 80’s. Their first performances as a trio garnered rave reviews in the national press at the Half Bent Winter Jazz Festival in Melbourne’s Trades Hall (“Ravishingly beautiful music...enchanting lyricism…the epitome of understatement.” Jessica Nicholas, The Age) and the Freedman Fellowship Concert held at the Sydney Opera House (“full of haunting nostalgia… not only contemporary but quite timeless. Nobody could not like this music!” John Clare SIMA)
They were featured on three tracks on Wilson’s debut album, while you were sleeping (2006) and then released Trio-Live in 2007, the result of a live recording at Bennetts Lane to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ABC FM’s Jazztrack program. They have performed sold out concerts at Berlin Jazz Festival, Melbourne International Arts Festival and Wangaratta Jazz Festival, and performed at festivals in Indonesia, New Zealand, Korea and Switzerland. In 2006 they completed a three week European tour assisted by funds from Julien’s 2006 Freedman Fellowship for Jazz. They have been finalists for the Bell Award for Best Australian Jazz Ensemble three times and there is a chapter dedicated to them in John Shand’s book, Jazz: The Australian Accent (UNSW Press). While in Korea in 2009 they participated in a live performance to a studio audience at EBS-TV studios in Seoul. The resulting performance and interviews were presented as a one hour documentary on Korean TV, interspersed with footage from their shows at Jarasum Jazz Festival.
The release of the trio’s new album, Swailing marks ten years together and is their first album that utilizes the recording studio as part of the creative process. Recorded over two days at Pughouse Studio by Niko Schauble and mixed and mastered by Lachlan Carrick (Lior, Gotye) the album sees the trio take their music in exciting new directions. The instrumental palette has been expanded to include electric guitar, moog guitar, bass clarinet and soprano saxophone, and Steve Grant has modified his accordion with pick-ups and EQ’s to enable greater separation and detail to be extracted in the recording. In addition to CD release the entire album was recorded and mixed in High Definition 96kHz/24bit audiophile quality. Rather than take the old-school analogue to tape approach to gain more warmth, the entire album has been recorded, mixed and mastered in the digital realm giving it an incredible level of detail and transparency.
“Swailing” describes a “prescribed burn to encourage regrowth”, something that is synonymous with the Australian landscape. The stunning painting on the CD cover by Melbourne artist, Dale Cox, evocatively captures the often-brutal-beauty of the relationship between Fire and the Australian Landscape. The combination of old and new material on Swailing reflects the trio’s desire, and need, for renewal and new growth. Delving in to the past to create the future. Some of these tunes have been staples of the trios repertoire since the very start, and some were written specifically for the recording.
A decade of performing together as a trio has enabled them to develop a signature, loping 3-feel and a unified rubato phrasing that sounds as if they are sharing one mind. In the absence of a traditional rhythm section of bass and drums, the three instruments (all roughly the same range in pitch) have to find new roles to give the music completeness. An additional bonus of the lack of bass and drums is that the level of details that can be heard from the acoustic instruments is truly astounding. Subtle clicks from the accordion buttons, fingers on the guitar strings, and breath and key-noise from the saxophone all add an extra layer of rhythm and texture to the recording that give the listener the impression they are experiencing the band from the inside-out. The recording has a sumptuous depth and clarity, and the band have utilised the studio to create multi-layered tracks that create an orchestral, three-dimensional, cinematic experience.
“The Julien Wilson Trio came together with such astonishing naturalness that the music seemed to be playing itself, pouring out of the players' instruments like glittering lava and sending arrows of aching lyricism straight to the heart.” Jessica Nicholas The Age
“In fact, it was Wilson who provided what may have been the highlight of the Festival when he performed with his Trio in the Holy Trinity Cathedral. The sheer majestic quality of this band’s music is astounding, and, in the vast surroundings of the Cathedral, Wilson’s soaring tenor took on a spiritual quality, reaching all the way back to Coltrane. With an unlikely instrumentation of guitar, accordion and saxophone, the Trio gently added subtle textures to the mix, creating a music that seemed to be full of air and light. Stephen Grant’s accordion floated dreamlike through the space, while Stephen Magnusson’s guitar pierced the veil, intelligent and thoughtful. Solos were few and far between, but when Wilson did set off, his tenor soared to the upper reaches of the Cathedral, filling the church to overflowing. It was a remarkable performance, full of such intimacy and telepathic communion.” Des Cowley - Rhythms Review of the 2007 Wangaratta Jazz Festival
“Wilson has been a force in Australian jazz for a dozen years with his dark tenor saxophone sound and imaginative compositions for highly interactive bands, often with unconventional instrumentation. For a trio with piano accordion (Stephen Grant) and electric nylon-string guitar (Stephen Magnusson), Argentinian music is obviously a reference point. More important are the band's inner dynamics: the subtleties and internal rhymes of Grant and his close-weaved interaction with the mobile, flexible Magnusson, who thinks musical thoughts no one has thought before and realises them with exquisite touch and tone. As much as anything harmonic, they create a foundation of melodic contour for Wilson's saxophone to unfurl across with an unforced poetry.” John Shand - SMH review of the 2006 Freedman Fellowship Concert at the Sydney Opera House
For an audiophile quality 96kHz 24bit download of this album please visit lionsharecords homepage