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