As Leader/Co-Leader

Counter Clockwork is my debut solo album.  I like to think of the album as a series of composed improvisations and improvised compositions - some of the pieces were prepared over a period of months and years, but include a significant amount of improvisation in performance, while others were completely improvised in the studio but applied compositional thinking.

All Talk is a collaborative trio of Alistair McLean (guitar), Samuel Zerna (bass) and myself.  A Shorthand of Sensation is our debut album, recorded and released in late-2014.  It features a suite of music I composed after studies with ex-patriate composer Phil Treloar in March, 2013, as well as other original compositions by all band members.

"The soundscape mood resurfaces at the start of ‘New Egypt’, the trio not so much using space as decorating silence. The slow groove that emerges from this sounds so right as to be inevitable, and the ensuing three-way interaction sparkles with micro-surprises without losing a fundamental cohesion. Throughout the album the McLeans share an uncanny rapport in phrasing, often spontaneously converging on syncopated accents."

(John Shand - australianjazz.net)

Lightly Toasted started as a piano trio back when we were in high school (maybe 2006?), and over our uni years grew to a sextet.  Needless to say, this is a band of some of my oldest friends, and there's a lot of history that goes into this music.  Fortunately we made one album - Tim - that was recorded in 2011 and released in 2013.  For my money, Tim is the guy on the bottom right, but I think it's a bit contentious.

As Sideman

Question Time is a band led by two of my Perth-born-Melbourne-based friends, trumpeter Andrew Gioia and saxophonist Shaun Rammers, and completed by bassist Djuna Lee.  A set of originals played pretty loose, with space for the improvisation to go wherever it needs - so, it's fun!

Paper House is about the only time I make the leap from the 'jazz' world to the 'pop' world - yes, you'll actually hear me stick to a groove for more than a bar.  That said, there's still a bit of weirdness in there... as well as some great songs.

Eugene's been a figure on the Melbourne (and Australian) scene for about as long as I've been alive.  It's pretty awesome to play music with him, and to be part of the band on his first album as bandleader is a privilege. The band (rounded out by James Macauley and Mick Meagher) is a pretty unique, and this recording is something I'm excited to have out in the world.

Joe's piano trio, with Marty Holoubek (bass), has been an ongoing project for us since 2012.  Joe's compositions explore the application of dissonant counterpoint, an early-20th century American compositional theory, to jazz and non-jazz improvisative structures.  It's tricky music, but we gave it time to ferment, and I think it's come off pretty well.  As a bonus, this album was recorded by Mal Stanley at ABC's studios, so the sound is superb.

You buy Praxis by clicking through the album cover above, or listen to some newer music just below

This quartet - Callum (trumpet), myself (drums), Joe O'connor (piano) and Samuel Zerna (bass) - had a fleeting existence.  Cal and Sam's impending overseas ventures enforced a tight formation-to-recording schedule, but the rapport between the four of us is immediate and striking - as are Cal's compositions.

I've done a large handful of gigs with James over the years, with a revolving door of other musicians, but when we performed as this quartet - with Tamara Murphy (bass) and Steve Grant (piano) - it felt like we were on to something special.  Obviously James felt likewise as he decided to do some more gigs with the same line-up, and then put it down on record.

The music on Sarcophile is uncompromising - not necessarily on the surface, but in the structures and musical languages underpinning it.  It was a significant challenge to get my head around how to play this music, but I think all the work paid off, and it's resulted in some pretty rigorous original music.  Fortunately some others agree, as the album won a Bell award and an APRA award.

A project of my brother Alistair's, of a band that usually went by the name 'Bikini Party'.  We recorded it in a day and then it disappeared (from my head at least) for a couple of years.  It turns out Al had been editing and effecting and overdubbing and whatever other magic he did to it, and now we have Post. Alasnoaxis meets 20th Century Dog meets guitars that sound like video games breaking. NB - this is probably the most rock I will ever sound.

When I was still undertaking my bachelors degree, I was hugely fortunate to have a few of Melbourne's established musicians book me for gigs - people I'd been admiring since I was in high school.  No-one did this more that Paul Williamson, who didn't just book me for some gigs here and there but made a member of his regular quartet, recorded it, released it and then toured it.  This was not only a great experience for me to play with people I admired, but also a lesson to me in what can happen if you take a steady band and steady repertoire, and let it develop it's own character over a heap of performances.  Plus, Paul writes killer tunes. 

 

I'm also on a couple of other albums that I wasn't able to embed onto this page.  First is Andy Sugg's Coltrane Project album (click for info).  Second is the self-titled album of By A Thread, a trio of Paul Williamson (trumpet), Geoff Hughes (guitar) and myself, which seems to have vanished from the internet.