Two Cities by Brenton Foster, review by John McBeath


Album:  Two Cities
Artist:   Brendan Foster
Release Date: 2016
Label:    Independant

This robust collection of nine originals by Adelaide-born, now Melbourne-based pianist/leader Brenton Foster maps his travels throughout the USA. His Melbourne sextet was recorded partly in New York, finalised in Melbourne and was assisted by a Helpmann Academy grant. A promotional tour to Mt Gambier, Adelaide, and Melbourne commences Aug. 6th. The entitled ‘Two Cities’ are New York and Adelaide.

The opener, Heller va Feller begins with Matt Clohesy’s two-note bass riff and after Gideon Brazil’s tenor sax theme statement underscored by Kenneth Salters’s drum work and Foster’s piano extension of the riff, the ensemble appears as the temperature reduces, and then builds again in Foster’s solo, bursting into quick runs and chordal stabs.

Shortest take is a one minute evocative theme, Rainy Nights in The East Village, while Hudson Fysh with its rapid staccato single note piano in trio format is a tribute to Sir Wilmot Hudson Fysh, early Australian aviator and founder of Qantas Airways.
Piano takes the lead in all tracks and Foster’s style is potent and vigorous with many notable solos, whether fronting the ensemble, or with just bass and drums; both formats are heard to good effect in Hostelity.

One of two Adelaide-referred pieces is Stevens Street, where Foster says his sister lives and ‘reflects the carefree and calm nature of the city’s suburbs.’ It does that very well with the piano moving against long held ensemble harmonies.

The final cut, aptly named Disappearing, strides along building to Tom Jovanovic’s trumpet farewell moving through the registers in a slightly bluesy way and an added running piano re-introduces the ensemble climbing energetically into a fade-out.

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.