Like revenge, art is sometimes a dish best served, if not cold, then certainly well stewed. Guitarist John Scurry, long a force in Australian mainstream jazz (and painting!), has waited a mere five decades to make his debut album as leader. The upshot is 17 original compositions distilled from across all those years of gracing the music of others with a rhythmic suppleness and propulsion of which few guitarists are capable. Most players attempting to perform this role fail to understand that the job is to be a bed, not a loud quilt-cover. Scurry’s guitar nestles between the bass (Howard Cairns) and drums (Danny Fischer), generating what might be termed restrained insistence, and then occasionally it dashes to the foreground for a short, stylish solo.
Among the album’s many joys is the supremely elegant singing of Shelley Scown, while Eugene Ball (trumpet) and Michael McQuaid (clarinet, tenor) ensure the horn solos buck with surprises when required and are as smooth as satin elsewhere. Pianist Matt Bowden completes the core band, with trombonist James Macaulay and saxophonist Phil Noy as guests. It has been lovingly recorded, and the title-track is a must-hear.