I first heard Hayden Chisholm (saxophones) – well at least first really took notice on the glorious collaborative album Small Holes In The Silence featuring Hannah Griffin’s voice and Norman Meehan’s piano. The music was sparse, the lyrics drawn from famous New Zealand poems. Griffin and Meehan have an ongoing project in collaboration with Bill Manhire. Chisholm was the silent star of that record.
As he was when Meehan, he and long–serving Wellington bassist and educator Paul Dyne recorded a lovely record called Unwind.
Now they’ve taken that on as a band-name and here provide us with more – this time the music was recorded in Christchurch’s Orange Studio, so that’s the name of the album; there’s an accompanying DVD where you get to see Hayden, Norman and Paul place this music out in the spaces of the night.
It’s gorgeous stuff. Meehan and Dyne are tender accompanists, they now how to sit back and tease at the stray threads of the melody’s waft. Chisholm is the leader here, in the sense that his is, most often, the lead instrument. He’s the one stating the works, stamping them into place – even though it’s a collaboration and the writing comes from across the group. It’s Meehan and Dyne in underneath. And you couldn’t ask to be in better hands.
If there’s one last chance to hear the perfect plod of a looping bassline then you’re going to want to walk the plank with Paul Dyne.
Chisholm is all at once Chet Baker and Dave Liebman and Arve Henriksen – and Meehan is a soft set of guiding hands. He so often sets the mood, these after-hours ballads, these stately homilies; stoic, refined.
This is music stripped to the essence. There’s nothing left to trim here. It’s the sound of the shadows, a pensive joy. Where the Unwind album announced a brave, thoughtful trio creating spiritually connected, deeply contemplative music this, the announcement of Unwind the band, is a further reminder of the talents. Something deep, stirring and soulful. Something profoundly lovely lives in the spaces within these pieces.