Occasionally you visit someone’s place for the first time and feel instantly at home. Whether it’s the colours and shapes or the books and lights, you are at ease and pleased to be there. This music is like that. It arrives with a geniality that makes you settle deeper in your chair and, sure enough, many of the 19 pieces penned by Melbourne guitarist John Scurry (across a double album) become old friends at first hearing. Partly this is because the music is rooted in the familiarity of pre-bebop jazz, but much more is in play than just a fine mist of nostalgia.
The melodies can be hugely engaging, as can the arrangements (for an octet, including fizzing horn parts by Eugene Ball for his own trumpet, Brennan Hamilton-Smith’s clarinet, Stephen Grant’s alto and James Macaulay’s trombone), while the solos are apt and smile-inducing. Scurry’s playing is masterfully understated, epitomised by his work behind the clarinet and trumpet on the evocative Egyptian Violet. Often he is merely adding breadth (but no weight) to Howard Cairns’ bass, while drummer Danny Fischer frequently uses mallets to thicken a mood, and the band is completed by pianists Matt Boden or Sam Keevers.