Vocalist Allira Wilson is another talented graduate from that Perth wellspring of talent the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) at Edith Cowan University. Foremost in the accompanying quintet, saxophonist Jamie Oehlers is a senior music lecturer at the academy and each member of the group has studied there.
Wilson took out Best Australian Jazz Vocal award at the 2014 Bell Awards and this debut album of three originals and seven standards signals the arrival of an important new voice in Australian jazz. Of the originals, the title track is a standout, opening with a wordless vocal in unison with the tenor sax, transitioning smoothly into a soft ballad given rhythmic complexity by drummer Ben Vanderwal’s quadruple timing. Oehlers’s solo on this Wilson composition captures flawlessly the misty fragility of the vocalist’s style and flows into a reprise of the opener with Wilson to conclude.
Jerome Kern’s I’m Old Fashioned is taken at a medium tempo and gives Wilson free reign to modify the melodic line, not scatting but utilising the original lyrics as Tal Cohen delivers a swinging, sympathetic backing and a rippling solo over Sam Anning’s strong bass foundation. Another Kern standard The Way You Look Tonight also receives a cleverly altered melody, improvising by making inventive use of the lyrics.
Wilson’s Chapter of Change features a silky backing from Christopher Sealey’s contributory but unobtrusive guitar as the vocal wends gently and expressively, almost out of tempo, up into perfectly pitched, hushed high notes.
This is a valuable collection by a notable new vocalist in supportive arrangements by skilful practitioners.