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Paul Cutlan's Coltrane Project - Live at the Side On Café
ABC Jazz is excited to announce the very first commercial release of a recording by Paul Cutlan's Coltrane Project, including a complete performance of John Coltrane's unfathomable masterpiece, Ascension.
The Coltrane Project was formed by Paul Cutlan and John Mackey as a one-off tribute concert in 1997 to mark the 30th anniversary of Coltrane's death. Gathering together some of Australia's finest improvisers, the popularity of the concept and the transformative energy of the ensemble has seen it regroup for a number of very special shows over the years, unique gatherings, never to be repeated, and never to be heard beyond those lucky few in the room - until now.
This release chronicles the highpoint of the project, when the ensemble swelled to 10 people in order to perform Ascension, that gigantic opus of Coltrane’s late repertoire, at the Side On Café in Annandale, in Sydney's inner-west.
"To me," says Cutlan, "Coltrane has always represented many things: an unreachably high standard of saxophone playing, the complexity and mystery of his harmonic and technical innovations, the inspiration of his untiring quest to always be better, to always be searching for greater spiritual and technical modes of expression, and an honest, human, universal quality which inspires my own efforts to discover what makes me unique and worthwhile as a musician."
Recorded for Radio National's Live on Stage program, this concert featured two sets: the first featured a sextet of Adam Ponting (piano), Steve Elphick and Steve Arié (basses), Toby Hall (drums), Andrew Robson (alto sax) and Paul Cutlan on tenor sax, bass clarinet and E-flat clarinet, performing both Coltrane compositions and originals by members of the project inspired by Coltrane’s output.
This gig began with Cutlan's own Blue Step, a piece in the style of Coltrane Plays the Blues, fused with a progression from his iconic Giant Steps. Equinox follows in a minor key with a slower, moodier blues: it gives the two basses plenty of space to interact, blending with bass clarinet. Then the key shifts up a semitone, unleashing a searing alto sax solo from Andrew Robson, before sinking back to the depths.
Naima is John Coltrane’s best known and loved ballad, written for his first wife. In this version, the bass clarinet and two basses once again create a dark, velvety texture, before a sublime piano solo from Adam Ponting. Kaleidoscope is a quirky, Calypso melody built on the harmonic progression to Giant Steps, written by Tony Gorman. Alto sax and piccolo clarinet duet before trading choruses, then the two basses also trade choruses.
Then came the second set - Ascension itself: a massive piece of intense expression, in which the players collectively create walls of sound. Each performer is featured in turn against this visceral environment, galvanised to transcend themselves in sound. For this set, the sextet is joined by Sandy Evans (tenor sax), Mathew Clare (alto sax), Phillip Slater (trumpet) and Jeremy Borthwick (trombone) - an incredible lineup featuring some of the most creative and accomplished jazz performers in Sydney.
"Among the inspiring line up of players on this performance," says Cutlan, "I want to make special mention of alto saxophonist Mathew Clare. This special musician died tragically young and isn’t documented on many recordings. I’m thrilled that audiences will now be able to hear Mathew’s highly emotive solo on Ascension, starting at 16:30."
"I’ve often wondered what to do with these recordings over the years, wanting to make them publicly available, but reticent to commit to producing an album or compilation. I think there are some incredible performances among all three recordings, but the original Coltrane albums are a daunting yardstick to be measured against. I’m really happy that this last ABC recording is finally being released - this seems to be the most appropriate way to share the accomplishments of a band which certainly developed an exciting and individual identity, as it came to grips with this awe-inspiring repertoire."
1. Blue Step (Paul Cutlan)
2. Equinox (John Coltrane)
3. Naima (John Coltrane)
4. Kaleidoscope (Tony Gorman)
5. Ascension (John Coltrane)
Paul Cutlan – tenor saxophone (1, 5), bass clarinet (2, 3), E-flat clarinet (4)
Andrew Robson – alto saxophone
Adam Ponting – piano
Steve Elphick & Steve Arié – bass
Toby Hall – drums
Plus (track 5 only):
Sandy Evans – tenor saxophone
Matthew Clare – alto saxophone
Phillip Slater – trumpet
Jeremy Borthwick – trombone
The Huntington Estate Music Festival is one of the brightest stars in Australia’s musical firmament. For three decades, it has been bringing together top-flight musicians from around the country and around the world to present a breathtaking array of chamber music masterpieces, both iconic favourites and delicious new discoveries. Presented by the Huntington Estate Winery in association with Musica Viva Australia, and held in the winery’s Barrel Room, one of the most remarkable and surprising music venues in the world, the Festival is a delight to audiences and musicians alike.After 30 stellar years of exceptional music-making, however, the 2019 Festival will be the last, with Huntington Estate owners Tim and Nicky Stevens reluctantly deciding that their grapes – and their young family – must come first. To mark this significant occasion, ABC Classic is proud to delve into its broadcast archives to present this selection of some of the Festival’s most memorable performances across a typically diverse and intriguing range of repertoire: from Schubert and Dvořák to Bach’s astonishing eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann and Australian composers Ross Edwards and Ian Munro.It was Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra who began the Festival and established it as a serious contender on the world stage – and the hottest concert tickets in the country! This album includes superb three recordings from those early years: music of Mendelssohn, Brahms and Percy Grainger.In 2006, the ACO passed the baton to Musica Viva and Artistic Director Carl Vine, opening up the Festival’s artist roster to an extraordinary range of musicians, both local and international. From among the literally hundreds of thrilling performances, this album features New York-based Australian pianist Andrea Lam, Russian-Armenian clarinettist Narek Arutyunian, the rich bass-baritone of Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Vienna’s acclaimed Eggner Trio, along with regular Festival guests the Goldner String Quartet and the rising stars of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) Chamber Orchestra.…/2The CD of this compilation is available exclusively at the Festival itself, but for all those who can’t make the trip to Mudgee, ABC Classic is releasing the full album as a digital album, for download and streaming, so that audiences all around the world can share in the celebration. TRACKLISTING 1 MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3 ‘Scottish’: II. Vivace non troppo2 BRAHMS arr. ANGERER Chorale Prelude ‘O Gott, du frommer Gott’3 GRAINGER Blithe Bells Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti director (2002 / 2004) SCHUBERT4 An die Musik (To Music)5 Erlkönig (The Erl-King)6 Die Forelle (The Trout)7 Die Taubenpost (Pigeon Post) from Schwanengesang Teddy Tahu Rhodes bass-baritone, Kristian Chong piano (2007) WF BACH Sinfonia in F major ‘Dissonant’8 I. Vivace9 II. Andante10 III. Vivace11 IV. Menuetto I & II ANAM Chamber Orchestra, Paul Wright violin / conductor (2010) 12 ROSS EDWARDS String Quartet No. 2 ‘Shekina Fantasy’: I. Allegro moderato Goldner String Quartet (2010) MENDELSSOHN13 Song without Words Op. 67 No. 2 – Allegro leggiero14 Song without Words Op. 85 No. 4 – Andante sostenuto Andrea Lam piano (2012) 15 WEBER Clarinet Quintet in B-flat major: II. Fantasia Narek Arutyunian clarinet, Australian String Quartet (2012) MUNRO Piano Trio No. 2 ‘Book of Lullabies’ – Excerpts16 II. Lullaby in Edo17 III. Kun Mun Kultani Tulisi18 IV. Skye Boat Song Dimity Hall violin, Julian Smiles cello, Ian Munro piano (2013) 19 DVOŘÁK Piano Trio No. 1: II. Adagio molto e mesto Eggner Trio (2015)