Is there a sound closer to heaven than the kora? More than any other instrument it defines the texture of Byron Bay’s Palm Wine Ambassadors, with its ability to drape melody across rhythm in such a way that the harder lines of the groove become shrouded in its own celestial beauty. The player here is Jason Burns, in a band that has more sonic surprises up its sleeve, with bassist Armando Ornano also able to turn to bansuri flute, and singer Chris Chandler doubling on saxophone.
The supple, understated grooves – a mix of West African and reggae – are maintained by percussionists Steve Nugent and Elliott Orr and drummer Josh Bell, with guitarist Azo bell swapping duties between skanky rhythms and some enthralling solos. Chandler’s singing of the band’s original songs is laid-back, and mostly mixed within the fabric of the music, the exception being the anti-war anthem Scream (“the man with the weapon won’t bring peace”). The gentle Bahia (on which the kora and bansuri) intersect) and the lilting Brother Hymn give a pretty good idea of how music would sound in Paradise – were there such a place. Perhaps it is Byron Bay. The locals certainly think so.