The third part of jazz pianist Phil Broadhurst‘s ‘dedication’ trilogy of albums (the others being 2011’s ‘Delayed Reaction’ and ‘Flaubert’s Dance’ from two years later), Phil Broadhurst Quintet’s ‘Panacea’ is as much a reflection on the artist’s musical journey as it is dedicatory. Recorded in early 2015 by Steve Garden of Rattle Records, it features Roger Manins on tenor saxophone, Mike Booth, trumpet and flugelhorn, Olivier Holland on bass, Cameron Sangster drums and guest guitarist Neil Watson.
As we have come to expect from Broadhurst’s work the album is thoughtful and elegant, an exploration of influences past and present. As he points out in the liner notes these influences are often unconscious at the time of composition- and sometimes only pointed out by other people after the fact. The title track Panacea is dedicated to legendary guitarist Martin Winch (who passed away in 2011) with whom Broadhurst frequently worked. The name comes from the band that Broadhurst and Winch co-led in the 1970s. As is fitting the track is imbued with fusion vibes, and almost ’70s style horn lines, which are twisted slightly by a minor intonation giving it a plaintive sound. Booth and Manins blend wonderfully here – as they do everywhere else on the album – and Holland and Sangster ably support Broadhurst in maintaining the groove. Neil Watson’s features, Inverted and Knee Lever (this title referring to an action on his pedal steel guitar), are wonderful showcases of his solo and ensemble work as he slips into this quintet effortlessly. Several other tracks aside from Panacea involve dedications, but of particular local significance is Absent Friends. This elegiac piece was dedicated to members of the NZ jazz community who have passed away in recent years, and is beautiful tribute to those many talents.