Album:  Presence
Artist:    Blow
Release Date: 2014
Label:    Waterfront records

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Following their 2013 release Empathy, Melbourne-based quintet BLOW retain the same personnel for their sixth album. The collection maintains the group’s contemporary approach with an interesting mix of rhythmic post-bop and out of tempo, free group improvisation. The title track is a good example of the former with Bob Sedergreen’s swinging piano opening and a theme taken up by the duo of Peter Harper’s tenor and Ian Dixon on flugelhorn before the tenor breaks out and Dixon supplies high-flying embellishments to Harper’s solo.

Two shortish tracks, Deep Earth One and Two move into free experimentation in which Gareth Hills’s acoustic bass and Ted Vining’s drums add important components to an impassioned and frenzied mix. The longest track at under ten minutes Blues For a Paradox, begins with soft, abstract drum strokes under a bluesy flugelhorn ahead of a strong bass riff establishing a medium slow tempo for piano and the two horns to deliver the soul-infused melody. Then it’s expressive solos from both soaring flugelhorn and angular piano leading to a languid conclusion on a steady bass foundation.

Guest artist Adrian Sherriff appears on Until playing a shakuhachi Japanese flute in a minor scale on a medium tempo piece and provides an energetically flourishing solo pushed along by piano and vigorously skilful drumming. A brief piano trio intro with robust bass introduces Dixon’s dynamic flugelhorn on Lionshare as Sedergreen supplies the rhythmic chords and the tenor takes over as Dixon interweaves brass filigrees.

Overall the new album features strong rhythmical approaches in an advanced mainstream context with occasional forays into ‘out there’ abstraction.

For just over 24 years I have been a freelance writer, publishing in that time a wide variety of genres: news items, live concert reviews, travel articles, features, personality profiles, and CD and book reviews. I have written for various in-flight magazines, The Adelaide Review, The Republican, The Bulletin, The Australian, The Advertiser, The Melbourne Herald Sun and several regional newspapers. In 1994 I won a national travel-writing prize sponsored by The Australian newspaper, which led to my writing regularly for that paper. Since 2003 I have been jazz critic for The Advertiser and The Australian newspapers, on average contributing weekly to each paper. In 2005 I won a national Jazz Writing Competition sponsored by the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.