Sunday, 27 May 2012

Don Burrows And The Brazilian Connection - Don Burrows Quintet, Sydney String Quartet, Octavio Burnier & Claudio Cartier (1979)

My view of 1970s Australia is derived entirely from pop-cultural artefacts. Through my incomplete, stochastic lens, the Australia of the seventies was a land far more isolated than today, infused with a unique kind of funky antipodean jazz. A land where flute was king, and Don Burrows reigned supreme as it’s finest exponent. It’s hard to imagine a time when a jazz flautist was the most successful and prolific of instrumentalists, but in the magic heyday of Australia in the seventies, anything was possible.
Like any prolific musician, Burrows has his hits and misses. The first record of his I ever bought - Don Burrows Presents The Brazilian Connection, is one of the hits. This is a double live LP recorded in 1978 at the Sydney Opera House and Canberra Theatre featuring the Don Burrows Quintet, the Sydney String Quartet and two Brazilian singer-songwriters; Octavio Burnier and Cluadio Cartier. Each track features a performance played by different permutations of these musicians. For example, some tracks feature just the Brazilians with the string quartet, some feature all the ensembles playing together, a couple feature the classic duo lineup of Burrows and guitarist George Golla and so on.

Although this is Don’s record, the Brazilians - Burnier and Cartier - steal the show. Tracks like 'Don João (King John)', 'Sitio Azul (A happy, country weekender)', 'Adventura Espacial (Adventure in space)' and 'Recreio (Playtime)' have a beautiful sound, particularly when the guitarists are accompanied by the string quartet. Although the overtly jazz flute feel of much of the LP has dated somewhat, the songs by Burnier and Cartier still sound very fresh and quite contemporary.

That being said, the tracks featuring all the players are amongst the best material on the LP. My favourite track on the LP is probably 'Lembrando Ed Kleiger (Remember Ed Kleiger)'. Opening with the Brazilians singing a gorgeous melody over a funky backing from the Don Burrows Quintet, highlighted with flourishes from the Sydney String Quartet which then segues into seven odd minutes of extended solos from our esteemed players. 'Lenda das Amazonas (Legend of the Amazons)' is another track where the players go all in, follows much the same format as the latter tune and is equally as good.

Don Burrow’s albums seem to be less sought out and celebrated than those by other Oz jazz players of the seventies - possibly due to their sheer abundance. This LP however, is well worth a listen and easily holds its own in comparison with other lauded Australian jazz LPs from this era.

Label: Cherry Pie
Released: 1978 (Recorded live at Sydney Opera House and Canberra Theatre)
Players: Don Burrows - flutes, clarinet, percussion
George Golla - guitar, percussion
Tony Ansel - electric piano, synth, percussion
Paul Baker - bass, percussion
Paul Jansen - percussion

Octavio Burnier & Claudio Cartier - 6 and 12 string guitar, vocals, percussion

Harry Curby - 1st violin, percussion

Derel Tincu - 2nd violin, percussion
Alex Todicescu - viola, percussion
Nathan Waks - cello, percussion


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