Review in the Sydney Morning Herald, 26th September 2014
No instrument echoes the male voice as closely as the tenor saxophone, which lends it a peculiar immediacy – especially when played with the blow-torch urgency that Matthew Ottignon likes to apply. Ottignon has been part of Java Quartet for a nudge over half of the band's 20-year life, gouging stark rents in the pastel-hued surface of the more introspective music that leader/composer/bassist Michael Galeazzi, pianist Greg Coffin and drummer Mike Quigley instinctively make together. This is not a value judgment. Productive artistic collaborations are often forged by combining ostensibly oppositional forces rather than by aligning perfectly compatible aesthetic sensibilities. Several of Galeazzi's new compositions are among his best, playing to the band's strength of collectively creating journey-like narratives. Broadening the sonic and conceptual scope on some tracks are two old friends of the band: tabla player Bobby Singh interweaving a thread of mystery, and rapper Morganics adding his short-fuse use of words.
Album Of The Moment (week), Eastside FM 89.7 23rd September 2014
ALBUM OF THE MOMENT
Together by The Java Quartet
Out on: Vitamin Records
The Java Quartet celebrate their 20th anniversary with the release of their seventh album, entitled Together. This album is a beautifully cohesive acoustic work created by Michael Galeazzi bass, Matthew Ottignon sax, Mike Quigley drums, Greg Coffin piano.
The album was recorded live over two days, and it shows with the album sounding fresh without being overproduced. The addition of two guest artists also helps create an unique sound for the album. All these musicians feel comfortable in their own talents, and there is no excess to the album. It’s pure joy for your ears.
The album is a mix of the classic understated sounds of the group with two additional spoken word tracks featuring hip hop artist MC Morganics. It’s an inspired choice. His voice and lyrics are the perfect match for the music played by Java Quartet.
The exquisite tabla playing of Bobby Singh features throughout the album, providing a subtle but delicious nuance to all of the tracks. John Clare describes the group as being popular, without being populist and it’s apt. This is music that feels strangely comfortable and familiar, yet with surprising turns of phrase and subtleties that continue to reveal themselves with repeated listening.
An album to play on high rotation over the coming summer months.
Review in The Australian, 14th June 2014
OVER its 20-year existence, this Sydney quartet has attracted a loyal following and this latest recording brings its album total to seven. After the group’s 2010 release Rejavanation, which experimented with digital beats and electro-jazz, this new collection is a return to Java’s more familiar territory of acoustic contemporary jazz. All compositions are by bassist/leader Michael Galeazzi.
There are five tracks of the quartet, with tabla virtuoso guest Bobby Singh adding Hindustani-style rhythms on two of these, plus two bonus tracks adding Singh as well as spoken word interplay from solo wordsmith Morganics. An ultra-slow ballad, Maria, features an introspective solo bass opening with eastern modality, followed by some lusciously lyrical tenor saxophone from Matthew Ottignon, before a break and a lift in tempo as tablas arrive and Greg Coffin embarks on a soul-infused piano solo. Bass, piano and tabla introduce Tiramisu for Ottignon’s reiterative theme statement, another piece with eastern tonality. Inspired by Radiohead’s The Pyramid Song, the opener, The Hill Song, is established by a short duet of bass and Mike Quigley’s drums, with the latter coming to the foreground in the closing chorus.
Time Binders is a soul-fuelled piece with a heavy beat giving Ottignon the opportunity to provide a lift-off solo of vigorous intensity, followed by an equally developed one from Coffin’s piano. Of the two bonus tracks Pick it Up is the livelier, with its tabla-assisted rhythmic sparkle. Morganics’s spoken words on both numbers are delivered in a jazz-poetry style that can be thought about as an additional instrument in the ensemble.
Java Have History
Smith's Alternative Bookstore , Canberra,
Java Quartet have a history. Twenty years and seven albums and counting. They appeared at Smiths last week for the launch of their latest album, Together. Interestingly, last time I heard them was for the launch of their sixth album. The gig was the album, plus an encore or two, played in order. Starting gently as a quartet with The Hill song, a gentle groove with intense solos. That was the way with the outing. It's laid back, meditative; the grooves are unhurried. Solos grow organically from a limpid presence of relaxed bass and minimal, repeating melodic phrases. But there's development and power that appears with inevitability in solos. Greg's piano blisters with lengthy but tightly built scalar phrases that move through various dissonances. Matt is more open and his lines have bigger intervals, but there's a similar expansive modernity about it. I was trying to place both these two and it's somewhere in the sixties. Mike's solos are more restrained, unfussy. The percussionists each take their features, and the blend of drums and tabla gives a rich undercurrent of rhythmic movement and colour. Tablas sing with absurdly quick tika and it was a pleasure to see up close how this is done. Bobby's not a core member of the quartet but features on this album and is a frequent collaborator. His hands blur as he lays down some of the quicker passages, of fingers flash to tap the different tones. It's a different sense of rhythm, expressed in vocalisations, too, and it was such pleasure with Mike's sympathetic drumming. I liked his solos, too. Morganics came on in the second set for a few DJ raps. They were pleasantly political, too; one about asylum seekers; one about Aboriginal land; another just about Canberra. It was claimed as freestyle but it seemed just too clever for an improv. I am a novice in such poetry, though, so I guess it was. If so, I am impressed. It turns out that Morganics has a Canberra connection too, so he may have been reasonably acquainted with his topic. Certainly, it was local. So, this was laid back in presentation but intense in release; nicely modern in jazz and ethnic in percussive colour and contemporary in vocal lyricism. Something old; something borrowed; something new. Java Quartet are Michael Galeazzi (bass), Matthew Ottignon (tenor), Greg Coffin (piano) and Mike Quigley (drums). One their new album, Together, and at this gig, they added guests Bobby Singh (tabla) and MC Morganics (vocals)
Canberra Jazz Blog
Java Quartet - 'Together'
Feature Album On The Daily Planet – Radio National
Tuesday 27 May 2014 11:05PM
Sydney's Java Quartet celebrate 20 years together with their fine 7th album, recorded in the round - a collection of original themes passionately and lovingly played. Leader Michael Galeazzi has come up with a selection of compositions that play with time signatures and modes while keeping direct and soulful, thanks to the great playing of the rest of the band - saxophonist Mathew Ottignon, drummer Mike Quigley and pianist Greg Coffin.