Some of us might feel that we have outgrown the need to have our best artists recognized abroad, yet it is still deeply satisfying when they are. It means we have produced something that transcends the local. The performances on this double album, in Holland's famous Bimhuis jazz venue, are by Australian musicians who have long passed beyond emulating American models. This makes the event specially satisfying. This is something of our own, part of an international tradition, yet different to anything else within that tradition. And it has been enthusiastically accepted by connoisseurs.
Patrons of the Bimhuis are definitely that. Furthermore, the liner notes of this release are in essence a deep, intelligent appreciation of McGann - alto saxophonist, composer and leader of this band - by a highly regarded international critic. McGann is one of our great originals. So indeed are trumpeter Warwick Alder, bassist Lloyd Swanton and drummer John Pochée, who walked out onto the stage with McGann on the exceptional night you will hear recorded on these two discs.
Something very special happened on this night. Rather than showing how correctly they could execute the niceties of this music, they all took the bit between their teeth and played with a fierce, free abandon. Three of McGann's compositions were heard, no doubt for the first time by almost all of the audience. There was also beautiful playing on the old ballad It's The Talk Of The Town, Dexter Gordon's Fried Bananas as a full-throated opener, and a recklessly driving performance of Johnny Hodges' The Jeep Is Jumping.
McGann is at his most terse and searing, but he also fans out in multi-noted patterns, creates gruff knots and lyrically unravels them. Pochée is at his most thunderous and polyrhythmic. Alder's trumpet rises bright and fiery over this storm and Swanton is as bouyant as a trampoline.
These discs have been held awaiting release since the band's European tour in 2004. Few in Australia even knew about them. They might have passed into legend, but here they are now, hot and jumping.
released April 2, 2010
Bern McGann alto saxophone
Warwick Alder trumpet
Lloyd Swanton acoustic bass
John Pochee drums
2 CD live set
Recorded at The Bimhuis, Amsterdam 16 October 2004 by Dimitris Dimopoulos
Mastered by Kathy Naunton at dB Mastering
Produced by Bern McGann
Cover photo by me
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