IS THAT SO?
I’d been listening to this for a while, trying to work out what was different. Eventually I turned to the liner notes and press release: it is an all-analogue, all-valve recording, made with the four players in the same room, without headphones. That’s why it sounds different: the connection, the immediacy, the warmth of sound. Sometimes the old ways are the good ways.
Sydney drummer Andrew Dickeson grabbed the prominent New York tenor player Eric Alexander when he was in town, and teamed him with pianist Wayne Kelly and bassist Ashley Turner on material mostly from the mid-steam of the standard repertoire. Alexander combines a hard-edged sound and a penchant for fleetness (sometimes reminiscent of Johnny Griffin) with a gift for making potentially hectic phases of the music sound relaxed and effortless. The latter quality is shared by Dickeson, whose mallets playing on Invitation imbues the piece with a sense of mystery that the others sustain. Elsewhere it is not so much the sort of album to electrify nerve-endings as to reassure with its grooves, although a reimagined The Surrey with the Fringe on Top comes as a fun surprise.