THE COMPOSERS’ CIRCLE VOL. 1
While the pandemic may have necessitated Andrea Keller keeping to her Melbourne home, the prolific composer/pianist certainly can’t be kept in a stylistic box. During 2020 she’s released four albums, with this live one coming from a residency at Brunswick’s Jazzlab, where she presented assorted projects, including the Composers’ Circle: a sextet in which each player contributes repertoire. The in-your-face vibrancy of the recording quality catches all the band’s bristling energy (the ensemble sound capable of packing a mighty punch), and each member comes armed with distinctive sounds and ideas as both player and composer.
Amid the vigour there’s also respite, with alto saxophonist Angela Davis’s waltz-based tribute to the great Charlie Haden, Hymn to Haden, catching the spirit of some of Haden’s own works, and carrying an affecting solo from Davis that steadily expands in scope. Keller’s exquisite Grateful, Hopeful, Joyful, dedicated to the late British pianist John Taylor, features a touching solo from bassist Sam Anning, before the piece is surgically opened up by the band, completed by tenor saxophonist Carl Mackey, trombonist James MacAulay, and drummer James McLean.