Wellington jazz drummer Reuben Bradley returns with his fourth album, ‘Shark Variations’.
A trio effort with Roger Manins on tenor saxophone and Brett Hirst on bass, this album was recorded by Steve Garden after a tour in September 2016, and now released on Rattle.
Being recorded post-tour has made this album a more than usually intense tour de force by these three juggernauts of NZ jazz.
They are incredibly tight and exude a joyful energy, which is palpable to the listener. ‘Shark Variations’ is well titled, as there is a sense of musical danger threading through each piece.
There are moments where Bradley, Manins and Hirst turn on the proverbial dime in an unanticipated direction that surprises and delights.
The absolute standout track is the shark-related Makos And Hammerheads, where the phenomenal interactions of the trio are brought sharply to the foreground, providing goosebump moments.
Throughout this engaging album, the music unashamedly descends from the lineage of 1960s avant-garde jazz, but also continues on its own journey, without the need to conform to a particular ideal. This is a fine addition to Rattle’s jazz catalogue and is a sure bet for anyone wanting a good jazz trio record.