Pianist Paul Grabowsky and alto saxophonist Bernie McGann are major figures in Australian jazz. Bernie is a strikingly original soloist, with an unusually expressive sound, and a high degree of unpredictability in his playing, as heard over the years in his own bands, as well as Ten Part Invention and The Last Straw. He recently celebrated his 75th birthday, and is a member of the Bell Awardfs Hall of Fame.
Paul is a remarkably accomplished pianist and composer, an articulate and imaginative improviser, who has written music in a wide range of settings, from jazz trio to the Australian Art Orchestra, and numerous film scores. He has won several ARIA and Bell Awards.
Paul and Bernie have long admired each other’s work, and have begun playing more regularly in recent years. Hear them inspire each other as they examine a program of jazz standards and original compositions, in the company of Jonathan Zwartz (bass) and 2011 National Jazz Awards winner Tim Firth (drums).
Paul says : “Bernie McGann is one of the greatest of all jazz musicians, either here or anywhere, for that matter. He represents the essence of the music : uncompromising and thoroughly schooled in the tradition, while creating his own response to it.
”He’s like a great painter who’s developed this style, and then refines it and refines it. But everything that he does is unmistakable because of the style … The last gigs that I did with him were some of the most memorable jazz playing I’ve been involved with.”
“There is no more instantly engaging nor distinctive alto saxophone sound on the planet than McGann’s. That sound, the lines it expresses and the interaction with the rhythm section all make for jazz with a uniquely Australian accent”. – ‘Sydney Morning Herald’
“McGann takes the language (of bebop) then bends and stretches it to fit the contours of his own remarkable imagination.” – The Wire (UK)
“(Grabowsky’s) asymmetrical phrasing, collisions of big ideas and unwillingness to coast in his own piano playing mark out a major force in new jazz.” – ‘The Guardian’ (London)