Human Music, ATM15, review by John McBeath


Album:  Human Music
Artist:   ATM15
Release Date: 2016
Label:    Independent

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ATM15 is a fifteen piece Melbourne big band including its director and composer Andrew Murray.

The collection of eight Murray originals is masterfully arranged and very well recorded – no small achievement when 14 instruments are involved – at Allan Eaton Studio in St Kilda.

Murray’s arrangements make efficient use of his soloists, and the large ensemble, sometimes in an overlaying format. Listen to This pushes the tempo along, courtesy of strong work from drummer Hugh Harvey, especially in a lengthy opening solo and in exchanges with the band; racing solos are also provided by Ron Romero’s tenor sax and Darrin Archer on keys.

At the slow end of the tempo scale Karma features interesting harmonic complexities in the full band voicings, while Derby Jump does what the title suggests, showcasing a sequence of swinging tenor exchanges between Ron Romero and Stephen Blyth and the full band jumps with Basie-like intensity.
Dig spreads an invigorating slower soundscape with swing-era echoes using drum assistance and includes a shout-it-out trombone solo from Alistair Parsons.

Further inventive arranging opens Early Days to introduce Tim Wilson’s spirited alto sax solo and fine, over-riding trumpet work from Callum G’Froerer.

Andrew Murray is to be complemented on the huge task of forming this impressive big band, containing several outstanding soloists, and for writing and skilfully arranging these impressive compositions while avoiding musical cliché, to rank ATM15 as good as any big band jazz ensemble in the country.

Review originally published by the Australian

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.