Afterglow, Alex & Nilusha, review by John McBeath


Album:  Afterglow
Artist:   Alex & Nilusha
Release Date: 2016
Label:   Whispering Tree Music

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Acclaimed Melbourne-based world music duo of percussionist Alex Pertout and vocalist Nilusha Dassenaike have recently launched their third collaborative album in front of a studio audience at Radio IMER in Mexico City, followed by performances at the 2016 Cubadisco Festival in Havana Cuba. The pair won a Premio Internacional prize at that festival in 2015.

These eight originals – all with esoteric Latin rhythms – were recorded in Melbourne, Havana, New York and Buenos Aires with a huge variety of musicians, including outstanding US guitarist Mike Stern, numerous Australian players, plus two Cubans: Pancho Amat master of the Cuban tres guitar and legendary drummer Roman Pelladito on congas and sacred bata drums.

The title track has Pertout playing an astonishing fifteen different percussion instruments from berimbau – a Brazilian single string bow – to diverse bells, gongs, cymbals, shakers, drums, vibes, a glockenspiel and more. At the intro Nilusha provides an ethereal choir of background vocals before embarking on her wistful solo. Paul Grabowsky delivers a very appropriate electric piano solo ahead of Nilusha’s concluding stanzas and a chorale with ensemble fade-out.

Nilusha’s lyrics are romantic and philosophical, poetical and often abstract, as in Early Black Velvety Sky which opens with Pertout’s smart congas and features trumpet, violin, and percussion solos plus Amat’s tres guitar bringing skilful sketches of Havana.

This highly individualistic collection of originals can be categorised as exotic world/jazz in Latin rhythms with Nilusha’s celestial vocals and Pertout’s multi-instrumental expertise.

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.