Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Wellington pianist/author/teacher and composer Norman Meehan has appeared a few times at Elsewhere but bassist Paul Dyne, once a mainstay of New Zealand jazz in Sustenance during the Eighties and intermittent recording projects since, not quite as often.
And expat composer/saxophonist Hayden Chisholm just the once.
But it is Chisholm's nuanced, melodic and sometimes classically Romantic saxophone lines – on seven Meehan compositions of the 11, three by himself – which here seduce, charm and beguile by virtue of their understatement, discretion and assurance.
The opener Beekeeper – an almost wistful meditation (on the late Sir Ed?) – sets the tone with its subtle shift from spare introversion, into an elevating ballad which alludes to a lyric of your own making.
Few albums are courageous enough not to play some lapel-grabbing ace but to beckon the listener in this manner.
Fly which follows is similarly lean, slow and unashamedly pensive to the point of exoticism . . . an aspect picked up in their interpretation of Schumann's almost holy and stately See Gegrusst Viel Tausendmal/Welcome Springtime which follows.
So from its title and opening overs, Unwind invites you in to its world without haste, a place where ambient Art Music fends off New Age vacuousness by virtue of thoughtfulness and emotional depth.
The result of those two genres may be not dissimilar in many instances – ease, rest and relaxation – but here the mind is actually taken Somewhere and not into some amorphous Nowhere.
And then there's Inebriate Waltz, which both is and isn't that.
So, here is a lovely album which has pieces with titles such as View of the Moon (a gentle lunar swing with breathy Paul Desmond at its heart), Tinkerbell's Whim (airy and whimsical as you might imagine) and Free Motian (another resonant ballad with a gorgeous part by Meehan, and a respectful reference to the late drummer Paul Motian from this drummer-less trio).
We happily leave it up to you to discover the rest.