Oneirology Review – The Australian

Oneirology (Compass Quartet)

John McBeath – The Australian

SYDNEY’S Compass Quartet, led by award-winning altoist Jeremy Rose, comprises each of the four instruments in the saxophone family.

Here they are accompanied by pianist Jackson Harrison, winner of the 2006 Wangaratta Jazz Festival award. Oneirology (the study of dreams) is mostly a four-part suite composed by Rose and inspired by the work of British film director Chris Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception), plus two other originals.

The absence of a rhythm section frees the horns to move chorale-like in ensemble harmonies, either interspersed with figurative piano or underscored by that instrument. Sometimes three of the saxes play moving chords or melodic passages as the fourth solos.

The effect is of a classical-sounding narrative ideally suited to the subject matter, established by the first movement, Daydreamer, where a soothing, relaxing mood of abstraction pervades. Entering the Subconsciousness takes on a more substantial atmosphere as Matthew Ottignon’s tenor weaves quickly and abstractly against varying horn figures.

The third movement, Dream Within a Dream, features Rose’s fleeting alto after an opening of wandering reverie using the high end of Christina Leonard’s soprano. The final movement, Reality Check? (Deja Vu), moves into forthright statements, making good use of Luke Gilmour’s baritone in the stark, murkier passages. The two other tracks continue the phantasmagorical mood of the title suite with glimpses of bop ideas.

This is a highly original collection of mood-setting pieces demonstrating inspired compositions and musicianship in a classical-jazz approach.

LABEL: Earshift Records
RATING: 4 stars

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Two excerpts from Oneirology CD

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Compass Quartet – Oneirology CD Launch

Following on from their critically acclaimed 2009 debut album Abrazo Tango (Tall Poppies), and the APRA/MCA Art Music Award nominated Jazz Work of the Year from their 2011 album Ode to an Auto Rickshaw (Earshift Records/Fuse Music), the group now presents an intriguing collaboration with jazz pianist Jackson Harrison.

The new album Oneirology (~ study of dreams), features Rose’s new suite for the ensemble Oneirology Suite, based on the Christopher Nolan film Inception. The work explores themes taken from the film in a musical context such as dream within a dream, deja vu and subconsciousness. The work forms part of Rose’s PhD studies at the Sydney Conservatorium under the supervision of Matthew Hindson. Jackson Harrison also contributes his piece Charcoal Chorale to the album, creating a unique collection of Australian compositions.

Christina Leonard – soprano saxophone | Jeremy Rose – alto saxophone

Matthew Ottignon – tenor saxophone | Luke Gilmour – baritone saxophone

“Compass Quartet model virtuosity, boldness of vision, chamber music delicacy, compositional accessibility, and a savvy interaction with music history and global traditions.” – Michael Webb – Jazz-Planet

“The horns curl around one another in dramatic precision, or explode in joyous or sultry improvisation.” – John Shand – SMH

cnr City Rd and Cleveland St Chippendale 8.30pm and 10.00pm

Tickets $25/$20/$15 (Non-Member, Member, Student)

book online

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Third album coming soon!

Well, we have received the first mixes from our recording in January and we are pretty excited – some great writing by Jeremy Rose and guest performer/writer Jackson Harrison. Here is a sneak peak of Interplay.

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2013 Recording Project


On Wednesday we went into the Sydney Con to record our third album featuring the music of Jeremy Rose (Alto) and special guest composer and soloist, Jackson Harrison.  A new suite by Jeremy was recorded – Oneirology which we first performed live in January of 2012 at the Kinetic Jazz Festival and a review can be found here –

Also on the album will be a piece by Jackson – ‘Charcoal Chorale’ – and one more work of Jeremy’s – ‘Interplay’.  As with our previous albums, this is very much a collaboration between the four saxes and a special guest – in this case Jackson on piano.  We hope to release the project in April at our next SIMA gig.  In the meantime check out the photos from the session on our Facebook page – or under the Images tab on our site.  A big thank you to Bob Scott and his team for recording the day.

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Darling Harbour Jazz & Blues Festival

Thanks to everyone who braved the weather today…a great crowd at Darling Harbour!


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Recent news and gigs!

A huge thank you to everyone who turned out for our Debut SIMA gig at Sound Lounge and to our special guest artists, Sarangan, Bobby Singh and Jackson Harrison…what a great night!

Since then we have travelled up to Singleton for a Musica Viva sponsored gig and were warmly welcomed by their music society. Thank you!

Our next gig is tomorrow, Sunday 10 June, where we debut at the Darling Harbour Jazz and Blues Festival.

Once again we will be joined by Sarangan and Booby Singh as we play music from our ‘Ode to an Auto Rickshaw’ album.

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Debut SIMA Gig!

Compass Quartet brings two sets of original music ::
‘ODE TO AN AUTO RICKSHAW’ – Indian Project
‘ONEIROLOGY’ and ‘ABRAZO TANGO’ – Tango Project

Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA)
at the Sound Lounge, the Seymour Centre
Saturday 21st April
cnr City Rd and Cleveland St Chippendale 8.30pm and 10.00pm
Tickets $25/$20/$15 (Non-Member, Member, Student)
book online

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Compass points in multiple musical directions! Review of Kinetic Jazz Festival

Michael Webb Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Australia is evolving a rich saxophone culture, with a wealth of virtuoso players and eminent teachers as well as a number of first class quartets currently performing and recording around the country. One of the most musically appealing of these is Compass, a jazz-classical unit that boasts an acclaimed Tango recording from a year or two ago and a new CD collaboration with Sydney-based Hindustani musicians on tabla, vocals and sitar. Lest you think this obscure, the quartet has crossed over and looped around to bring together several art music and improvisational traditions and pulled off another feat – a sound that is poignant and sensual, tune-laden and imminently listenable in the way it melds tonality and timbre.On Sunday 29th January the saxophone quartet Compass with pianist JacksonHarrison presented a 50-minute set at St Luke’s Hall, Enmore, as part of the 2012Kinetic Jazz Festival. Jeremy Rose, the creative force behind Compass, is quietlydeveloping a significant Australian musical voice – on this occasion Compasspremiered his 30-minute suite, Oneirology – the study of dreams for saxophonequartet and piano.
Compass opened its Festival set with ‘Passion’ then played ‘Elegance’, pieces fromits CD Abrazo Tango. Here the quartet was able to sound like an impressively largebandoneon, just as on its ‘Indian CD’, Ode to an auto rickshaw, it calls to ear anoversized yet subtle harmonium or shruti box. Oneirology followed – a fourmovementwork cleverly using Inception, Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film on dreaminvasion, as a point of inspirational reference. In its refusal to go over known or safeterritory, Oneirology provided further evidence of the breadth of Rose’s musicalimagination.
The suite sections were titled ‘Daydream’, ‘Subconscious’, ‘Dream within a dream’,and ‘Déjà vu’, and Rose with his four other players led the audience throughstimulating pieces that subtly blended his study of and love for the music ofcomposers Feldman, Wayne Shorter, Scriabin, Debussy, Maria Schneider andDvorak. Contrasting textures delicate and dense, and sounds tonal and dissonant withshifting colourations, Oneirology is an architecturally sustained and resolveddissertation on dreaming that was expertly rendered by all players. During composedand improvised sections including cadenzas, pianist Jackson Harrison was givenscope to impress, and he sparkled on the Stuart & Sons piano. ‘Dream within adream’ was particularly harrowing, as was the equivalent scene in Nolan’s film(knowing the film is not a prerequisite to appreciating Rose’s work) – atonal clusterscontrasted with bell-tone crescendos that called to mind the delicate hybrid scales andtextures of Messiaen.
Compass succeeds on its combination of strengths, technical and compositional, yetas a saxophone quartet what sets it apart and makes it so listenable is that each playerhas quite a contrasting approach to tone and articulation. Hence, the quartet is not asdemandingly ‘jazzy’ as SNAP, say, nor as insistently ‘classical’ as Continuum. Rosecapitalizes on this in his writing and complements it with a knack for choosingthrilling musical collaborators.
Compass is a five star Australian music ensemble that demands to be offered aconservatory or university residency! It deserves a prominent billing at major musicfestivals, here and abroad. It has much to teach aspiring reed players, composers andimprovisers. It models virtuosity, boldness of vision, chamber music delicacy,compositional accessibility, and a savvy interaction with music history and globaltraditions. Jeremy Rose has discovered how to merge distinct audiences: he createscontemporary Australian music that bridges new and traditional art music,incorporates world cultural streams, and in the case of Oneirology, also makes productive reference to contemporary cinema.

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2012 Kinetic Jazz Festival

An intimate crowd enjoyed the sounds of Compass and guest artist Jackson Harrison (Piano) at the Kinetic Jazz Festival last night! Featuring music from our Tango album and a new piece by Jeremy, Oneirology!

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