Reuben Bradley: Resonator (Rattle Jazz)

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Reuben Bradley: Doppler Effect
Reuben Bradley: Resonator (Rattle Jazz)

This new album on the immaculately presented and recorded Rattle Jazz imprint proves again there is a depth of New Zealand jazz talent to be encouraged and taken to a wider audience.

Helmed by drummer Bradley -- with a core group of Roger Manins on brusque and/or melodic tenor, keyboardist Miles Crayford and Mostyn Cole on bass -- this album covers a wide swathe of Bradley's original compositions which include edgy post-bop (Exposition) and driving swing (Peoples?), soulful ballads (Search in Progress with vocalist Kirsten Te Rito) and studio experiments (the Radiohead-referencing OK Monitor with James Illingworth on synth and Te Rito).

And sometimes -- as on the mood-shifting Doppler Effect with its repeated Twilight Zone-type figure, gloomy arco bass from Tom Callwood then the shift to sprightly electric keyboard runs and sci-fi synths -- some of these elements can happen in the same piece.

Elsewhere Cassandra's Prophecy opens like a slightly eerie theme to a disconcerting European movie before opening out into much more free and exploratory playing from Mannins and Crayford (driven by some exceptional playing by Bradley) before moving in another direction again.

This idea of unified pieces of separate segments and expression is a hallmark of Bradley's compositions and means they rarely settle but are constantly morphing and taking the listener on a journey. A rare skill -- and he has the players here to pull it off.

There is a lot of fine playing and rewarding listening on this album . . . which ends with the wonderfully jerky/funky OK Monitor, another which bounces off into unexpected places as Bradley changes the tempo, the synths phone home from outer space, and samples and Te Rito's vocals are threaded through in the middle distance.

Yet another excellent Rattle Jazz album -- and something rather more challenging and therefore exciting than most other New Zealand jazz albums of the moment. 

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