What a rare treasure! Few would dispute that Bernie McGann was the most distinctive jazz musician Australia has produced, and this provides a chance to hear how fully-formed that singularity was back in 1966. Although his two tracks on the 1967 Jazz Australia album might have already confirmed as much, these longer live performances from two Sydney dates offer a better chance to revel in McGann’s leaping lines and jolting phrasing; in the way his idiosyncrasies not only catapulted the groove rather than stalling it, but also compounded the emotional intensity.
With him are trumpeter Kim Paterson, pianist Bobby Gebert (for three tracks and contributing two compositions), bassist Andy Brown and drummer George Neidorf, all playing with both gusto and adventurousness. McGann’s Lazy Days is here, as are Coleman’s When Will the Blues Leave? and Monk’s Rhythm-a-ning. These were essentially bootleg recordings, yet the sound, especially on Side One, is clear, consistent and energised. It is released by New Zealand’s Sarang Bang as an LP and download. Take the vinyl: it’s warmer.