Cadence Magazine review of Passages, New York State, March 1999.
From down under comes the refreshing Java Quartet, presenting music on PASSAGES that has bounce,drive,and an occasional touch of pensiveness.Pianist Coffin creates maximum thrust for the group with a driving approach that incorporates work song rhythms and an alluring blues-based tonal centre.Maegraith also plays a dominant role with his bold yet sprightly tenor sound,while bassist Galeazzi represents a strong anchor,injecting a heavy up- front beat that is central to the group's sound.Drummer Quigley is consistent with a diverse assault that goes hand in hand with Galeazzi's style.
The compositions,all of which were written by band members, fall into two unique camps .Those authored by Coffin or Quigley are for the most part up-tempo struts.These tunes provide the proper foundation for the group to get into a moving groove of swinging improvisation and carefree interplay guaranteed to keep you hopping. Maegraith is able to stretch out while Coffin developes intricate and challenging piano lines around the pulsating rhythm.The three penned by Galeazzi and the one by Maegraith project a serious presence,being more ballad oriented and thought provoking. Coffin gets introspective with his piano musings,and Maegraith is mellower on his horn.The two approaches to writing provide for a well balanced program that also exposes multiple sides of the musicians.
The Java Quartet is well schooled in the Jazz tradition and has built on those concepts in presenting music with dash and a contemporary flair. You will find Coffin's motivational piano kick to be a focal point throughout, although they all give out an adequate dose of caffeine.These Aussies seem to have something brewing.
Review of Passages in Revolver, Sydney, November 1998.
Those readers who were seen heading upstairs to the GALLERY [Palladium Kings Cross] will of course be aware that the fabulous JAVA QUARTET has released a new album. TJQ is one of the most dynamic ensembles to come out of Sydney in years, and this new one, entitled PASSAGES, does them the credit they deserve, although it's a little more reflective than many of their performances. Like a railway line in the outback sun, there's a steady, warm glow eminating from the tracks. Although the album features fine compositions from every member, Michael Galeazzi's track-four contribution, BIG SKY MIND is a clear stand-out. So too, is an emotionally charged composition from pianist Greg Coffin entitled BACH CHORAL, which closes the album in such a way that there's to do but play it all again. All in all, an obvious empathy between these four players produces a gentleness that's still full of energy and ideas.
Sydney Morning Herald's review of Passages, December 21, 1998.
The compositions and rhythmic feels do not always match the standard of playing on this, the Java Quartet's fourth album [sic-2 albums, one EP] .The first couple of tracks I found rather leaden, but that was swept away by the delicacy of bassist Michael Galeazzi's 'Nona's Cage', a mood sustained by his 'Big Sky Mind',with more than a hint of Jan Garbarek in Richard Maegraith's tenor.
His third piece, the elegaic 'Autumn Cycle', has more assured playing from Maegraith, ably supported by Greg Coffin on piano.The band is undoubtedly a worthy project, just compromised by some inconsistent composing.
Magic Melding Of Four Composer Brains.
Review of THE JAVA QUARTET's live performance at the SIDE ON CAFE, December 9, 1999, written by JOHN SHAND. The review was published in the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD on Monday, December 13, 1999.
It could be four generals singing John Lennon's INSTANT KARMA in a karaoke bar in Jakarta, but it's not. THE JAVA QUARTET is what bassist Alex Galeazzi [sic-it should read Michael Galeazzi, although I do have a brother named Alex!] does when he is not playing in the likeable pop-with-credibility outfit Karma County.
The Quartet has released three albums in the past five years, which, along with some new tunes, amounts to a considerable repertoire of original material.
Galeazzi, saxophonist Richard Maegraith, pianist Greg Coffin and drummer Mike Quigley all compose, and this is one of the quartet's major attributes.Not only are some of the compositions very good in themselves, but four composer- brains are brought to bear on devising arrangements and improvising within them.
The stand-out pieces in this performance were two of Galeazzi's: CALL TO LIFE and the tender WEDDING SONG. Both were built around simple, attractive, repeated bass lines.
CALL TO LIFE, which opened the evening, provoked an extraordinarily powerful solo from Coffin, while the beautiful WEDDING SONG encouraged Maegraith to build his improvisation, gathering intensity over a long, long trajectory.
Quigley, meanwhile, made subdued rumblings and washes with small mallets and Coffin added small, gleaming highlights.
The members do not always play to their own strengths, however, which lie, loosely, in a more European style of atmospheric improvising.
On some of the livelier and busier pieces such as THE NEW AGE, Maegraith's very tight, clean, almost chilling tenor sound was less convincing. Here, too, Coffin could be too busy, and the rhythm-section did not always swing, with the cymbals clanging rather than dancing. Climaxes were sometimes made overblown, and there was a tendency for Coffin, Galeazzi and Quigley to too often simplistically duplicate the rhythmic development suggested by one of them, culminating in a predictable resolution on the first beat of the bar. It would be more interesting if sometimes other options or counter-rhythms were thrown up, rather than locking into these improvised unisons.
On a more positive note, it was a pleasure to hear a band which seemed so well rehearsed and conversant with their repertoire.
Too many improvising bands in Sydney assume that near enough is good enough; an attitude which contains an implicit disdain for both their music and their audience.