John Sangster did it with Tolkien, Jeremy Rose with The Fatal Shore, and Ellen Kirkwood, Barney McAll and the Allan Browne Quintet have done it with multiple sources. So in using Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist as a fertile launch-pad for his first album, saxophonist Lachy Hamilton joins a rich tradition of programmatic works of Australian jazz. The opening The Crystal Merchant, a modest, straight-ahead swinger, has the most oblique connection to the story, but thereafter both the music and programmatic relevance intensify.
The through-composed Fatima – Woman of the Desert delightfully catches a sense of mystery and infatuation, and could well have been extended further. Urim and Thummin spawns a Hamilton tenor solo showing a striking ability to alchemise a liquid flow of ideas into a much more robust and compelling statement, and also boasts a brilliantly developed foray from pianist Matt Harris. A faint ghost of Coltrane haunts The Wind, the Sun, and the Hand of God, which contains quicksilver trumpet from Thomas Avgenicos. Bassist Harry Morrison and drummer Patrick Danao capably flesh out the band, and while two standards rather break the Alchemy spell, this is an impressive debut.