Strands | Strands (May 2023)

Modern, polished, and delicate, this self-titled album builds faith in the creative vision of the younger generation. Drawing on the jazz traditions that precede it – but having its own twist – the album features 8 pieces that act as a conversation between band members and the audience.

“Strands” is composed of Benjamin Phipps (double bass), Alistair Johnson (saxophone), Deven Rahman (trumpet), and Cy Donkin (drums). The compositions excel in the quartet format and make their way into the ear with ease.

At times taking you to unexpected places, the two lead voices of the saxophone and trumpet are in a constant flowing tussle, propelled onwards by the ample acoustics of the double bass and drums. The band does an inspiring job of sticking together with enough room and elasticity for groove and feel to flourish.

My ears are especially drawn to Cy’s full use of the kit throughout the album, or Ben’s alternative application of the bow. As you listen, you notice distinct shifts in texture, ambience, and mood. Aided by the subtle execution of the recording and mixing, done at Free Energy Device Studios in Sydney – there is not much to dislike on this disc.

I am always blown away by the quality of vision and artistry we have in this country, and the self-titled album by“Strands” is no different. If you enjoy compelling, contemporary Australian jazz, this is a must-spin.

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