The Green Hour
I was impressed with last year’s Nerve, a solid outing from a very good team of players – all great soloists when given the chance, all prepared and willing (and understanding of the need) to sit in behind anyone else, all patient and waiting their turn, more than that these players seemed to clearly understand that power that can be summoned from the octet.
Here again we have The Jac, a group of Wellington-based teachers/lifelong students in love with jazz and its possibilities. Here we have four horns up front and a rhythm section that features both guitar and piano. Across the seven original tunes here all of the members are given a chance to shine. In many cases is the tune’s composer, but in an 8-piece band it’s just as often the supporting work gets noticed while the featured player is in the spotlight. So, on opening track here, the nearly 10-minute Sons of Thunder, it’s a lovely piece of piano from Daniel Milward that breaks up the assault of the horns. While Milward’s fingers dance we hear Shaun Anderson’s funky drums too.
Anderson provide washes of cymbal beneath the soundscape-y guitar of Callum Allardice (and again Milward’s piano) on the segue-piece, Anthem. We get to hear Allardice’s chops – in full Scofield glory – on the snake-like weave of the title track.
The horns have their way on The Heist, which feels like it’s summoning the spirit of Tenor Madness in places.
Lex French’s trumpet is the highlight of Anomaly, and on the all-in 15-minute closing track, Magellan, we have the horns circling each other without any rhythm section in an exciting breakdown just a couple of minutes into the track. Nick Tipping (bass) is a crucial, driving component of this band too – and here he’s dynamic beneath French’s solo, he’s rewarded with a funky workout all his own just moments after.
These guys can play. They can really play. And The Green Hour surpasses Nerve, it has them sounding, even more so, like a band. A working unit. A team of talented players with a collective goal. Here they really nail it.