The Edge of Chaos
Auckland-based guitarist and teacher Dixon Nacey has recorded for Rattle previously as part of the trio Samson Nacey Haines – here with a record under his own name he pulls together a few of the usual suspects (Kevin Field on piano, Roger Manins manning the saxes, Andy Keegan hitting the drums and Olivier Holland on bass) to make a bit of magic.
It’s jazz. Of course. But this is the small-combo jazz with big ideas – and as the tunes here stretch past five minutes, some towards the 12-minute mark, we get a synergy when the guitar sits in and around the saxophone; almost a duel as well as a duet.
There are lovely little licks and flourishes to start the songs – sometimes even a true ballad setting – but sometimes the band just builds and builds, moving towards the space the title of the album is suggesting. It’s brilliantly controlled though. Never too clean and clinical, never falling into a hot fucking mess, always the right amount of edge here. The right shapes too.
When the band gets cooking fully it’s that type of muscular jazz that John Scofield concocts, and there is something of the Sco to the tone of Nacey also.
At other times it’s about the rhythm section setting up a lush ballad tempo and feel for Field to work his piano magic and for Nacey and Manins to simply wait their turn.
A charming collection – with the band nailing everything here, and Nacey stepping away from his session work (he’s been the Musical Director of the Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park show across the last three years, among other sideman gigs) to really make a statement as a leader.
The collective experience here, the sum of the parts, is awe-inspiring.
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