BERNIE McGANN                                                                                                                           Solar                                                                                                                                                  Rufus RF093

Bernie McGann – as; Roger Mannis – ts; Warwick Alder – tpt; Lloyd Swanton – bs; John Pochee – dms: Sydney – 21 Jan, 2006.

(I) Birthday Song/Spirit Song/D. Day.                                                                                          (II) Blues For Pablo Two and Ballad medley/Lover Man, Where Are You, and My Old Flame/Salaam. [TT: 103:00]

This most recent release by Bernie McGann, one of Australia’s jazz treasures, is a “live” couple of blowing-date sets recorded at the Sound Lounge under the sponsorship if the S.I.M.A. Here he’s with his usual backing (Swanton and Pochee), but with local Warwick Alder and New Zealander Manins also in tow. S.I.M.A. head caught Mannis at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival (one of the world’s best and most original/innovative annual festivals) in 2005 and decided that he had to play for his organization: top of his wish-list was McGann, and he got his wish, plus some other heavy-hitters from the Sydney scene. Bernie plays with his usual “dry” sound (I once had to dissuade an unknowledgeable sound person to NOT put all that echo/reverb on McGann’s mic) and plays the s**t out of his alto – as per usual: he sounds only like Bernie McGann can, and that’s a good thing.

Playing two sets of original “Bernie tunes” at The Sound Lounge, plus a ballad medley during the second set, there are superb solos from one and all after the “heads”. I happened to be living in Brisbane at the time, and missed out on the gig, but this helps cushion the loss! The rhythm section of Swanton and Pochee is totally swinging and in-the-pocket… nothing surprising there, as they are Bernie’s regulars. Alder burbles and shouts on his trumpet, and the Kiwi tenor man fits right in the batch of Sydney-siders with his sound and ideas; a fine meeting of trans-Tasman minds. Proof once again that good jazz is a world-wide phenomenon that is best appreciated in a “live” setting. Nicely, nicely, Tim and Peter… a fine pair of sets captured well for us all… thanks, all!

Peter B. Lowry

published: IAJRC JOURNAL; Vol 43, No 1; Mar, 2010 – p. 70.

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