Art. Music. Ideas.


Bungalow - You Already Know (2017)

This present recording is what modern jazz should be all about: changing textures, good communication on some very sophisticated music; clever and adventurous use of harmony and rhythm. But most of all…..very soulful!! Mike and his fellow musicians have given the listener something worthwhile to mull over. Great work!! - Dave Liebman January 2017

I'm loving this recording - old wine in new bottles. Its inspiring to hear such creative and intelligent music being made by the younger generation - gives me hope for the future! - Mike Nock January 2017

SAKURA (2015) ★★★★☆

Sakura (Cherry Blossom) recorded in Japan by Studio Songs, a jazz label begun in 2009, initiates a collaborative project between Australia and Japan, and features a quartet with two musicians from each country. Pianist Steve Barry, saxophonist Dave Jackson and drummer Ko Omura studied together at Sydney Conservatorium of Music and have been developing their creative concepts across several years. They’re joined by veteran Japanese bassist Yoshio Suzuki. Barry’s title track composition is the opener in an energetic 5/4 groove, providing a perfect vehicle for Jackson’s cerebral exploration on alto, supported by big, strong piano chords and Omura’s emphatic drumming.

Barry’s solo swirls, weaves and flows spiritedly around the extended harmonies. Omura’s piece Lonely Specs is a waltz with a pretty melody on which Jackson’s alto floats beguilingly, leading into a fugue-like beginning of a piano solo that continues with ceaseless invention. Another of the drummer’s compositions, So Long, opens with a solo piano cadenza before the main theme, with its evocative minor third structure. Jackson has contributed two originals: Pirouette, where the alto spirals and twirls as the title predicts, and Into Stellar, in a slower tempo at first for the abstracted alto’s constructed flight, ahead of the piano’s solo, increasing speed and Suzuki’s inventive bass sequence. The closer, Codaesque, by Barry, is a slow, 12-bar traditional bluesy number with another articulate bass solo and the ensemble otherwise staying on the expressive melody to conclusion.

It’s a fine musical collection and an inspiring example of international jazz co-operation in performance and composition.

John McBeath - The Australian 

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Bungalow - Unseen Scenes 7.5/10

Respective Scene has the bass and drums initially lurching in off-kilter lockstep through a light mist of electronics. But as first the piano and then the tenor saxophone join the lockstep unravels and engrossing exchanges build over the simple root material. It is among the highlights on this collaboration between Australia’s Mike Rivett (tenor, electronics) and Japan’s Koichi Sato (piano), Hiroshi Ikejiri (bass) and Ko Omura (drums). Setting the band sound apart is a sense that beneath relatively calm surfaces lurk seething undercurrents.

Although seldom frenetic the music is packed with little dramas, just as it is often edgy but never angry. It provides an ideal context in which to enjoy Rivett’s smoky sound and emotional ambiguities. On It’s Not a Sad Song, for instance, moments of insouciance lighten more melancholy lines that in turn lead to a hint of anguish. Omura is probably the most distinctive player, with a keen ear for injecting surprises into the textures without jarring the grooves, while Sato and Ikejiri lean towards autumnal moods, so the drums seem to be playfully kicking their way through fallen leaves.

John Shand

Bungalow - Unseen Scenes ★★★★☆

Saxophonist Mike Rivett, leader of the quartet Bungalow, is based in Cairns, studied in Sydney and New York, and moved to Tokyo for a period, where this album was recorded with the three Japanese jazz players of Bungalow. Rivett wrote one of the tracks while the other musicians contributed another eight. The opener, Dancing Elephant, composed by drummer Ko Omura, begins with a typical Japanese-sounding taiko drum solo, but when a steady rhythm is established by Hiroshi Ikejiri’s bass and Koichi Sato’s flowing piano over which Rivett’s tenor sax floats in a minor key, the piece takes on a distinctly Western-style jazz dimension, albeit with Asian influences, a characteristic that’s evident throughout the collection.

Rivett’s piece, Absence, starts with an out-of-tempo sax cadenza that wanders in a dreamy nostalgia before rhythm arrives and the piano provides a lengthy embellishment, introducing Ikejiri’s bass solo. Respective Scene features a slow Asian rhythm overlaid with Rivett’s various electronic effects, adding a tenor solo in minor mode to create a hauntingly mysterious atmosphere, which, with the piano’s assistance, builds to a fade-out conclusion. Omura takes up tablas on Bombay Duck, where the bass supplies a regular riff until the tenor’s theme gives way to strong piano statements. This is a highly unusual jazz album, not completely Asian nor completely Westernised jazz, but an inspired amalgamation of both.

John McBeath - The Australian