Mozaic – Hammerhead independent – three and half stars
Well-established Sydney saxophonist Jason Bruer fronts his skilled sextet for an album of re-arranged bop pieces from the sixties, plus several originals. Bruer’s brother Tim is on piano throughout and wrote the opener Blues of Many Hues with a strong trumpet lead by Ray Cassar in a blues that could have come from the repertoire of Nat and Cannonball Adderley.
The title track, Cedar Walton’s Mosaic is taken at a brisk tempo, pushed along by Duncan Archibald’s crisp drumming and nicely integrated solo, Matt Gruebner’s dancing bass line, and Tim Bruer’s jabbing chords also adding a quick flowing solo. The tempo is appropriately slowed for Pat Metheny’s Sometimes I See in a languorous arrangement with a floating, lyrical alto solo from Andrew Robertson. It’s a straight ahead bop sound for Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil, while Jason Bruer’s composition Wayne’s in waltz time features the composer’s introspective tenor solo with leaps into the upper register, some driving piano and bass, and interesting voicings in the ensemble work.
Another original, Art for Art’s Sake also captures attention for its motile arrangement with the trumpet, alto and tenor functioning concisely together and delivers well-constructed solos from bass, alto and trumpet. Butch & Butch by Oliver Nelson lifts the tempo giving free reign to the quick piano with fast ensemble inserts. This collection is in many ways retrospective, and while it reworks numerous bop standards, it’s intentionally not trying to break new ground, managing to re-create many of the sounds and styles of jazz in the sixties, an important era in the history of the genre.
John McBeath / Weekend Australian / 23-8-14