Out of This World

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Joe Zawinul's enigmatic remark "We always solo and we never solo" from the liner notes for the first Weather Report album could just as easily have been a reference to Baecastuff. More groove- and riff-oriented than the early Weather Report, the Australian sextet does share that band's emphasis on the collective, rather than the individual player. The music shifts from section to section, themes dissolving and reshaping themselves through the process of group improvisation. Key to this third album from Baecastuff (named after a tobacco bush indigenous to Australia's Norfolk Island) are the classic, analog sounds of Matt McMahon's Fender Rhodes electric piano, appropriately tweaked to produce fuzz-wahed, synthesizer-like, sputtering, short-circuiting sounds in the tradition of Fender Rhodes masters Zawinul and George Duke. The Baecastuff sound is further defined through the fluid, integrated performances of drummer Simon Barker and percussionist Aykho Ahkrif, the pair working together to achieve a true synergy and unity of purpose. On both electric and acoustic bass, Alex Hewetson pulls huge sounds from his instrument, notably his sub-sonic, throbbing electric bass intro to "Rocky Point," by saxophonist Rick Robertson. For his part, Roberston frequently assumes the role of tone colorist, briefly stating themes before recasting them in new permutations that blend with the overall, collective approach. The collaboration is completed by trumpeter Phillip Slater, who paints with a fresh conception from a palette of squelched tones and rubbery phrasing that reveals elements of later period Miles Davis and Don Cherry. With its roots in the best elements of jazz-fusion and deftly incorporating influences from the avant-garde, Baecastuff creates accessible music that has integrity and an audible sense of joy in realizing the collective potential inherent in six individual musical spirits.

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