Monday, 12 December 2016

Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Doo-Wup Doo-Wup Doo-Wup Doo-Wup - John Sangster (1980)

Here's a lesser known release from the later career of Urban Bowerbird patron saint, John Sangster. This is one of a handful of releases on Sangster's own 'Rain Forest Records' imprint, put out in the early eighties - Peaceful being another. Expect more of Sangster's idiosyncratic, mischievous, trad-influenced jazz played by the likes of Tony Gould, Ian Bloxsom, Errol Buddle, Graeme Lyall, Len Barnard and Bob Barnard.  


Monday, 7 November 2016

Australian Jazz Quintet + 1 (1957)

The Australian Jazz Quintet (also confusingly known as The Australian Jazz Quartet) were an old-school cool jazz act that achieved success both in their homeland and in the United States throughout the 1950s. There are some familiar players in this group with Errol Buddle (bassoon and sax) going on to a prolific career, often playing with Don Burrows et al and Bryce Rohde (piano) becoming a significant jazz composer. The addition of bassoon, flute and vibes to the established jazz format of piano, bass, drums and sax made the band stand out at the time and lead to national tours and television appearances in America. 

The A side of this LP is entirely taken up by the tremendous Jazz In D Minor Suite, written especially for the group by Bill Holman. The flip side is composed of shorter, more conventional pieces which are all impeccably played by the quintet (+1). 


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Trio Orfeo at La Taverne (~1965)

I picked up this gem at the Winchelsea op-shop a couple of years ago. In the past I may have skipped past a release like this, but I had recently heard and very much enjoyed RareCollections' 'Australounge' podcast, featuring music from the house bands of Australian establishments of the sixties and seventies. The Trio Orfeo were a group of Greek musicians who had relocated to Australia and during the sixties were enjoying a residency at Sydney Restaurant, La Taverne. 

As is described in some detail in the aforementioned podcast, these stints as a house band often resulted in the pressing of records so the group could make a little extra money and the diners could have a souvenir of their experience. The playing and harmonies on this LP are excellent and the song choices are generally fantastic, incorporating Greek folk tunes and some nice surprises such as the exotica standard Adventures In Paradise. Inevitably there is a version of Zorba The Greek and for some reason the trio plays The Mexican Hat Dance - which I'm sure says something about Australia's difficult relationship with racism although I have no idea what. 

I love the sound of The Trio Orfeo and the feeling of being in a 1960s Sydney restaurant, however a contemporary critic said that one of their later LPs made them want to turn their record player off and described the group as "play[ing] inoffensive nightclub music"! No accounting for taste, I suppose.


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

A synth soundtrack for the Australian environment: Aurora Australis - Bronzewing (2015)

I love conceptual synth albums from the seventies and eighties, particularly those which attempt to evoke or soundtrack the natural world. In recent years I have been inspired by Vangelis's L'Apocalypse des animaux and Soil Festivities, Joël Fajerman's botanical soundtrack L’Aventure des plantes and of course, Andrew Richardson's conceptual flute and synth oddity Expanse. These days my focus is increasingly on my homeland of Australia. Apart from that last record, where are the conceptual synth experiments from the seventies and eighties celebrating the unique Australian environment? 

There are a few examples. Rob Thomsett's legendary Yaraandoo comes close, but is light on the synths and more of a prog rock freak out. The didjeridu-lead impressionism of Gondwanaland is closer to the mark - creating native Australian soundscapes with didj, synths and field recordings. But beyond these few, there's not much out there in the way of Antipodean, synth-washed nature concept albums from the seventies and eighties.

So, I decided to make one myself! Aurora Australis is the debut album by Bronzewing, combining synthesizers, a little guitar and field recordings that I have recorded myself during my naturalist wanderings in Victoria and Queensland. There are also hints of oud, soprano saxophone and one composition written for and played by the Federation Bells - an automated carillon on the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne. 

You can stream the album and download it at