Drum Media - Blow
THE JAVA QUARTET are actually one of the most well recorded bands in Australian jazz. Which you will discern is no bad thing when listening to their latest effort, DARK GARDEN (EMI / ABC) an album (sic) that really is redolent of those quiet, mysterious places in the memory and in the heart.
Pensive without being maudlin, brooding, masculine and sensual all at the same time, there's elegance in spades on this baby, but so is there a preponderance of welcome directness.
Craig N. Pearce
Dark Garden and Passages review from the Penguin guide to Jazz
Quigley and Galeazzi are the main writers, leaving Maegraith's Coltrane-instpired tenor to go aloft over Coffin's funky piano licks. That puts it simply, but it's a formula which they vary and occasionally depart from to engaging effect across the two CDs. Several of the tunes on Passages revolve around a single idea, such as the bass figure of 'Blue Sky Mind', and the group skilfully knows when to quit on each track (aside, maybe, from the lengthy 'Life-time Dreaming' and 'Una-Med' - Coffin and Maegraith are more likely to hit bullseye on brief solos). Dark Garden takes a more leisurely course, although the tracks number only five and the record is commendably fat-free. The disc is meant as a meditiation on memory and it's effects, and perhaps it's appropriate that it has the quality of sketchwork, even if there are some bold strokes along the way. It could use a big tune.
Richard Cook and Brian Morton
Dark Garden review in the Australian
Sat 24th of Feb 2001
Restraint is usually considered to be a worthy quality in music, but, for various reasons, is not always adhered to in practice. An admirable amount, though, can be found on "Dark Garden", the Java Quartet's fourth CD and their second with the current line-up. Led by bassist Michael Galeazzi [also a member of Karma County], the Java Quartet's sound typically involves simple bass vamps under melodies that gently unfold into rollicking climaxes. This time, the quartet creates intensity without excess, maximising the use of space and implied sounds. This is particularly evident in what drummer Mike Quigley plays or, more precisely, what he doesn't play -- indeed, such subtle contributions could never be accused of bravado. Saxophonist Richard Maegraith, who seems to have escaped the spectre of Jan Garbarek, boasts beautiful, haunting harmonies, and treads lightly and unexpectantly over the tunes. He is complemented by the dense harmonic approach of pianist Greg Coffin, whose climaxes involve intricate two-handed counter melodies rather than heavy chordal attacks. "Dark Garden" is a welcome release from this Sydney-based quartet, which has weaved a mature, understated package that will reward close attention.
The Sunday Herald Sun - 4th March 2001
It is terrific to hear the Sydney jazz scene represented by a fine album created by musicians whose names are less familiar than the talented crew that record songs regularly for the Rufus label.
The Java Quartet - Richard Maegrith (saxophone), Greg coffin (piano), Michael Galeazzi (Bass) and Mike Quigley (drums) - produces unfussy, unhurried music draped around sparse yet eloquent tunes.
On "Dark Garden", first is best. "Shadow Dancing" is a lilting, achingly pretty tune worth every second of its 10 minutes, Coffin's solo building up the heat before Meagraith steps in with a cooling breeze.
All of this is underpinned by the sweetly dancing bass of Geleazzi, the tune's composer.
Take two, "Nursery Crimes:, brings a contrast in mood with its bass motif creating a sense of foreboding that veers close to making its 15 minutes a tad too lengthy.
Another three tunes, of more modest duration, are no less full of restrained beauty.
Worth many listens - it may take that long to fully appreciate Quigley's deft, oh-so-subtle cymbal work.
This Sydney quartet presents a seamless ensemble sound, in which the melodies seem to merge into the solos played by pianist Greg Coffin and Richard Maegraith on tenor saxophone. The five tracks here feature attractive, contemplative melodies. Like the band's pulse, they are provided by bassist Michael Galeazzi (otherwise known as a member of pop band Karma County) and drummer Michael Quigley. The Javas like to develop their perormances at length, in no particular hurry. On the fifteen minute long Nursery Crimes, the result could be hypnotic or tedious, depending on on your mood, but it does boast Coffin's and Maegraith's strongest solos of the set.