Sexion, review by Steven Peacock

With eyes closed, I drifted back for a few fleeting moments to the days of my well spent, miss spent youth listening to Jazz at The Village Vanguard, Bradley’s on University, Jazz Brunches in the Museum of Natural History’s Bistro, or Jazz afternoons on The Wharf back home in New York City. There’s no doubt about it… Sexion is the ‘real deal’ when it comes to their tasteful and soulful expression of originals in classic and contemporary styles. The engine room, run by Michael Walder on bass (double bass, 4 string fretless and 6 string electric) with Ko Omura on drums skilfully subtly drive the quartet’s bottom. Their inter-dependence and communication with the group’s top end is evident as they allow Mark Matthews on alto sax and of Marcello Maio on keys to entice us along with heartfelt and soulful melodies that only come from much intimacy with their instrument and life itself. Marcello’s comp chords resonate nicely, as one might imagine him clawing across the keyboard then brightly bursting into lyrical riffs that tickle just the right places. Being a fan of the fretless electric bass, I found Michael’s playing clear and concise and in perfect time and pitch, he’s an excellent foundation knowing exactly when to pick his head up and lead. Mark and Ko do not just complement the rest of the staff—they are active and contributing forces within. Ko is a dream drummer; quiet, tasty, on time and tuned into the others and Mark’s Alto is poignant when he wants it to be and blends when one might expect it to. ‘Awakening’, (opening track) composed by Marcello Maio (keyboards) is a flowing piano led piece in which everything actually makes sense! It has a forward pulse (Ko & Co play right on the edge of the beat!) with moments reminiscent of work by Chick Corea or Al De Meola floating around. ‘Tarantula Dance (track 3) is a composition by everyone in the band and the perfect surrounding for the group as a whole, and each of its individuals, to strut their stuff. Together this piece has a Pat Metheny-esque feel with a groove that is ever so slightly, so subtly, further out there. Being a home boy I have a particular affinity for ‘Visions of New York’ but will let you make your own impressions. These tracks, in fact all of them are what I call ‘close your eyes and drift’ music, preferably with your favourite glass of wine and favourite person next to you. Production quality is definitely as you would expect from Sony Music Studios. Couple that up with nine of their own compositions and they’re onto something. Watch for these guys, they are excellent musicians and sure to become another of Australia’s finest exports.

Hash Varsani is the owner of The Jazz Directory, a network of sites related to jazz, travel and everything else he loves. He also runs a selection of jazz related sites including Jazz Club Jury, a jazz club and festival review site. Check out his Google+ Profile, to see what else he's up to...probably setting up another website from one of his many passions.