It can be very hard to keep up with Auckland-based label, Rattle. And I try! But there are albums that slip through the cracks, one such is this, the second (to my ears at least) from Auckland quartet GRG67. Get Happy is a vast improvement on the debut too. That was a great record anyway, but this is just another level.
The majority of the compositions here are from saxophonist Roger Manins, a legend in local jazz – a brilliant player, arranger and composer, known for his work as a guest soloist, in duos with the likes of the great Mike Nock and in many small combos. He’s given his life to jazz and we’re all the more lucky for that.
Supporting his work her, bringing it into play, is a brilliant band featuring Mostyn Cole on bass – warm lines, always – Tristan Deck on drums, playing brittle-funk when needed and really stretching out to both add colour and pure groove at other times, and then the fiery guitar work of Michael Howell.
This is, at times, like an old fashioned blowing session with Manins and Howell locked in duel-mode, the rhythm section churning brilliantly beneath; total engine-room.
There’s moments in each tune for solo exploration too, Manins’ saxophone wafts and yet never drifts, he’s sending these notes skyward always. Howell is the one to take the tunes sideways, his hook-filled riffing is like a pretty frame for each picture.
At times Deck really smashes the toms and cymbals, going out at in a more prog-rock than jazz fashion. It’s intoxicating. He and Cole really propel each and every song.
Jazz is not for everyone. And I’m always glad about that. It’s nice to find these things, to think of them almost as little secrets. But of course you want to share them. Mention them. Hope it catches on with someone else. Music listeners happy to delve just slightly off the obvious path should love this – it’s straight enough to reach a wider audience but wonky enough to remain interesting.
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