The Harvest: Page/Brown/Psathas (Rattle Jazz)

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Adam Page and James Brown: Condense
The Harvest: Page/Brown/Psathas (Rattle Jazz)

This two-part album -- The Harvest Suite in eight sections, Like Picking Fruit in nine -- features Adelaide-based expat Kiwi saxophonist Adam Page, guitarist James Brown and producer John Psathas on pieces where the raw sounds of sax and guitar are looped and electronic effects employed to create textural swathes and moments -- as on The Couple's Prelude on The Harvest Suite -- which come off like a film noir soundtrack.

In the looping and repeating of phrases and their overlapping or counterpoint, there is often a minimalist quality (the taut Weight of the Seedling section which closes the Harvest Suite), or passages and sections which push this closer to avant-garde classical than pure improvised jazz, notably in The Harvest Suite which features only Page. The studio is the tool as much as the instruments.

Like Picking Fruit composed by Brown and played with Page is a series of exploratory sections which edges even further towards the periphery of jazz and avant-garde and is perhaps the more approachable of the two concepts, each of which come in close to 30 minutes.

It seems possible producer Psathas may have been influenced by the work of Dave Lisik and Colin Hemmingsen's recent Fate and the Processor on Rattle in his approach to this project, although experiments of this kind have been frequent enough in the American contemporary jazz scene.

So in that sense not a lot of new ground is broken, but this enticing album -- Page and Brown an intuitive and natural pairing who offer delightful as much as difficult listening on Like Picking Fruit -- is a rarity in the New Zealand context.

And, as with other albums on the Rattle Jazz imprint in recent years, it points to a direction which might not be "jazz" for many, but which works off improvisation and mutual understanding between the players and producer (and engineer Lee Prebble) in an exciting way.

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Mark Robinson - Dec 2, 2012

a musician we will have to check out here in Adelaide. Hopefully a live gig soon. cheers Graham.

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