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Garfish is the third album by World-Roots jazz group The Vampires.
With a depth of improvised sophistication and world music cross-overs from Jamaica and South America, The Vampires have received both critical acclaim and an ability to make people dance.
Featuring compositions by saxophonist Jeremy Rose (2009 Bell Award Winner for Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year) and trumpeter Nick Garbett (National Jazz Award finalist), their music carries echoes of early jazz and the hay-day of bebop, to the searching nature of Ornette Coleman and John Zorn's Masada. Joining them are the powerful and dynamic rhythm section of double bassist Alex Boneham (James Morrison Prize) and drummer Alex Masso.
Their two releases - South Coasting (JazzGroove) and Chellowdene (Earshift/Fuse) have been hailed as a fresh sound, leading to extensive touring and appearances at major festivals around Australia including the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Wangaratta International Jazz Festival, The Manly International Jazz Festival, Jazzgroove Futures Festival, SIMA Jazz Visions Festival and the Peats Ridge Festival.
In 2011 The Vampires attended Dave Douglas' Banff Workshop for Jazz and Creative Music where they were nurtured by some of modern jazz's leading lights including Clarence Penn and Dave Douglas, who workshopped material for their third release.
The album also sees the return of Chilean percussionist Fabian Hevia and trombonist Shannon Barnett.
The artwork for the album, "The Hunter" by Andre Blaise, is part of the Artworks for Haiti charity which uses profits to provide support for children of some of the villages in Haiti affected by the earthquake.
1. Garfish (Garbett)
2. Haiti (Rose)
3. Strugglin’ (Rose)
4. Less is More (Rose)
5. Heston (Rose)
6. Dragon Del Sur (Garbett)
7. Antipodean Love Song (Rose)
8. All I See (Rose)
9. Life in the Fast Lane (Rose)
Jeremy Rose - alto saxophone
Nick Garbett - trumpet
Alex Boneham - double bass
Alex Masso - drums
Fabian Hevia - percussion
Shannon Barnett - trombone
Recorded 4 February and 22 July, 2011, by Ted Howard at Rancom St Studios, Botany, NSW Australia
Mixed 23-24 October 2011 by Richard Belkner at Free Energy Device, Camperdown NSW
Mastered 9 December 2011 by Oscar Gaona
Produced by Jeremy Rose, Nick Garbett, Alex Boneham and Alex Masso
Design by Ella Egidy
Released March 23, 2012
The Australian - March 24-25 2012
Review by John McBeath
'This third album from young Sydney quartet the Vampires continues the group’s musical advancement, investigation of latin rhythms, and masterful compositions by altoist Jeremy Rose and trumpeter Nick Garbett.
Rose in particular is rapidly gathering further high acclaim and awards. With the same personnel and guest artists — trombonist Shannon Barnett and percussionist Fabian Hevia — as the 2010 recording Chellowdene, this new one sounds definitely Caribbean-based in style.
Rose’s Haiti opens with an infectious Carib rhythm established by Hevia’s percussion, Alex Masso’s drumkit and Alex Boneham’s mobile bass, then uses the three-horn front line in an authentic Haitian blend of Afro-Cuban, French, and Spanish influences injected with a jazz feel.
It’s the longest track at eight minutes and includes a skilled, joyously swinging, stuttering trombone solo. Strugglin’ features wonderful solos from, first, Rose’s clever, bluesy-latino alto plus quick runs, followed by a precise, slightly sedate trumpet ending in a downward growl, to conclude in inventive drum exchanges with the two riffing horns.
While many tracks use post-bop themes blended with latin rhythms, Life in the Fast Lane is the most representative of those ideas, moving through changing tempos and altering moods with alto and trumpet voiced against faster-moving bass and accented drums, ending in an unexpected, faintly mariachi passage. Garfish is a fine addition to the Vampires’ collection of evolving originality.'
The Orange Press - March 28 2012
Review by John Hardaker
'Frank Zappa’s famous dictum of “Jazz is not dead; it just smells funny” was made at a time when Jazz had left the listener behind, cordoning itself off with fences of impenetrable theory and barbed wire tangles of unlistenable mathematics. Artists like Anthony Braxton, who named many of his compositions with symbols and numbers, chose to forget entirely about that function of music that activates the body below the cerebellum. The only way out seemed through fusing with rock, blues, funk and other, more vigorous mongrel-like musics.
Even though Jazz ultimately found its way again, it still intermittently reinvigorates itself by sucking on the funky, vital blood of other, more populist musics now and again – check current shining light Robert Glasper’s incorporation of hip-hop and urban favours into his Jazz, or our own D.I.G who mixed up House and Jazz so successfully in the 90s.
Sydney’s Vampires have long mixed reggae (Marley et al plus the Ethiopian skank of the great Mulatu Astatke and such) and African funk into their brew. Featuring compositions from altoist Jeremy Rose and trumpeter Nick Garbett their sound is beautifully open and spry – with no chordal instrument (piano or guitar) to thicken the sound, this allows the band to not only keep the jazzheads happy with some curly chromaticism in the solos, but helps the rest of us shake our asses to the surefooted grooves driven by Alex’s Boneham (bass) and Masso (drums).
Their prior releases – 2008’s South Coasting and Chellodene from 2009 – were hugely successful, pushing The Vampires out into the festival circuit and painting grins on the faces of all who heard them. The new one, Garfish is more of the same, thank God (and Ornette Coleman).
The title track opener, Nick Garbett’s ‘Garfish’ walks in with a beautifully assured reggae stroll – the band, augmented by trombonist Shannon Barnett, moves between reggae, New Orleans march music and a joyous free-blown Dixieland section. Chilean percussionist Fabian Hevia introduces ‘Haiti’ and we are off into a Randy Weston-style Afrogroove. The ingredients are thrown in, the gumbo mix swirls and the album unfolds like a feast.
Much of this material was developed at the 2011 Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music under the direction of US trumpeter Dave Douglas – a musician known for eschewing genres and elitism: a righteous man, in other words.
The calypso of ‘Dragon Del Sur’, the relaxed Cuban jump of Rose’s ‘Antipodean Love Song’ – it all reminds me of John McLaughlin’s statement that “all music is World music” – we all live in the World, don’t we? The Vampires take what they want and use what they want, to great effect.
And it is this which makes Garfish such a satisfying album – the solos and ideas are what is best about Jazz: adventurous, poetic, free and soulful; but the grooves and good humour here are also as valid as any other element. Seventy years ago, Jazz used to make the best dance records – in 2012, The Vampires make equally irresistible dance music. Garfish will have you shaking your ass while bright jungle flowers grow between your ears.'