Following his acclaimed recordings of George Gershwin for ABC Classics, the brilliant pianist Simon Tedeschi returns with an inspiring disc of music by contemporary Australian jazz composers. Simon’s jazz pedigree is underpinned performing with harmonica great Larry Adler, who commented on Simon’s playing I just wish Gershwin were here – [Simon is] the best exponent of his music I have ever seen.’
Simon’s versatility as a performer is well suited to the music on this recording, which defies definition and is by turns intricate and grand, thrillingly disorienting and gloriously melodic. Here Tedeschi is in contemplative mood, for the pieces, while differing greatly, all share a gentle and questing sensibility, the CD booklet notes revealing further his wide-ranging musical interests.
The recording opens with Mark Isaacs’ seductive and sumptuous Barcarolle, recalling the beauty and elegance of Chopin. Mark Isaacs is major voice on the Australian jazz scene and has achieved widespread recognition as a composer and pianist working in both classical and jazz, working with distinguished figures including Dave Holland, Kenny Wheeler and Adam Nussbaum. Three works from Mike Nock are included on this recording. Based in Sydney since 1986, Mike previously spent 25 years in the USA, working with many of the world’s top jazz artists; a member of Yusef Abdul Lateef’s band in the 1960s to more recently recording with American saxophone great Dave Liebman. Mike curated the Naxos Jazz label from 1996 - 2002. Tender Earth closes with Kevin Hunt’s A Natural Sequence, a rich blend of musical influences ranging from Keith Jarrett to Ravel, Messiaen and the blues.
Between the four Australian composers here, nothing short of a showcase of vibrant musical colours and styles.
“The composers that are featured on this album have been hand picked by me for a reason,” say Tedeschi. “In my mind, they are at the zenith of composition in Australia. You’ll notice that they’re all jazzers – this is no accident. Maybe at one point, classical music was ahead of the curve conceptually – Prokofiev thought up chords that Herbie Hancock would rediscover 50 years later. But here, in Australia, it can also be argued that the opposite is true. Jazz, an art music for many decades, has produced some of our country’s finest musical auteurs.”