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The Vampires bring together four of Sydney's most talented emerging jazz musicians, saxophonist Jeremy Rose, trumpeter Nick Garbett, bassist Mike Majkowski, and drummer Alex Masso, in a group which performed together for three years prior to this debut album, South Coasting.
The music is informed directly by the diverse experiences of the band in musical settings such as the Mike Nock Trio, Watussi, and the Splinter Orchestra, as well as Rose's recent studies in Oslo, Norway. The sax and trumpet front line of Jeremy Rose and Nick Garbett, who recently relocated to the South Coast, form a natural musical partnership, as does the formidable and like minded rhythm section team of Mike Majkowski and Alex Masso.
Their debut album highlights the compositions of Rose and Garbett, who have developed a specific style drawing from Afro-Carribean and South American grooves, as well as the group's own approach to improvising. Having performed their music around Sydney and on tours over the past two years, South Coasting was recorded 2007 in Melbourne with the trombonist, Shannon Barnett, (Vada, Barney McAll) invited to supplement the group on some tracks.
Since the band's inception, The Vampires have had a rigorous touring program, performing throughout much of regional New South Wales, Brisbane and Melbourne. They have also been involved with Goulburn Music Week, Wollongong Youth Jazz Festival, and were featured on ABC Classic FM’s “Sunday Live in March” program.
Jeremy Rose - alto saxophone
Nick Garbett - trumpet
Mike Majkowski - double bass
Alex Masso - drums
Shannon Barnett - trombone
1. Action Reaction (Rose)
2. The Beating Sun (Rose)
3. Vampires Vamp Sesh 06 (Garbett)
4. Long Time (Garbett)
5. Extinction (Rose)
6. South Coasting (Garbett)
7. Geo Jem (Garbett)
8. Hole in the Sky (Rose)
9. Mothers Dance (Rose)
10. Happy Vamping (Majkowski)
11. Melting River (Rose)
Recorded by Robin Gray at Allan Eaton's Studio, St Kilda, 20 August 2007
Mixed by Richard Belkner at Free Energy Device
Mastered by Oscar Gaona at 301
Many thanks to the Jazzgroove, Shannon, Peter and Kerry Garbett, Kieran Tapsell, and all our supporters from the South Coast
Artwork by Kareen Zerefos
Released January 6, 2008
Sydney Morning Herald - 1st March 2008
Much of the summer we’ve missed is on this brilliant disc. Using Latin and reggae beats teased by a superb double bass and drums team, and deploying two and sometimes three horns, the Vampires play with wit, soulful melody and invention. The opening is horns alone in interlocking patterns that repeat and mutate along minimalist lines before the rhythm section drops in powerfully. It is irresistibly catchy. Sultry drama and mystery follow with The Beating Sun, which has horn passages reminiscent of 1960s Blue Note funky jazz. Elsewhere there are even hints of mariachi, and the solos are sometimes informed by free jazz. As with many young jazz musicians, the Vampires listen to everything and play in many contexts, yet have something immediately recognisable as their own. The horn passages are almost blithe in their effortlessly unfolding invention but real beauty and depth of feeling rise from within the sunny fun. Inspiration is another word for this combinatioN. Young (female) Melbourne trombone star Shannon Barnett makes a guest appearance on horns beside Jeremy Rose’s alto saxophone and Nick Garbett’s biting trumpet.
Sunday Herald Sun - February 17 2008
In short: Sink your teeth into these Vampires.
WHAT a pity these four young musicians, who've been together for three years in Sydney, do not list a gig soon in Melbourne, where this debut album was recorded last year.
Shannon Barnett is a guest on five tracks, but the keys to this collection of originals are the interplays between main composers Nick Garbett (trumpet) and Jeremy Rose (alto saxophone) and, more subtly, the rhythm team of Mike Majkowski (double bass) and Alex Masso (drums).
The horns grab the limelight, intuitively in accord and, as often, fencing with each other in dances that excite, provoke and soothe. The Beating Sun features extended solos and wailing harmonies, while gritty attacks make up the fiery Vampires Vamp Sesh '06. South Coasting has a hint of reggae and Melting River builds from a beautiful melody. This enjoyable debut delights in horn players adept in celebrating their instruments' potential.
THE Vampires are four outstanding young Sydney musicians, and they have an equally talented guest in Melbourne trombonist Shannon Barnett. These originals were composed by leader and saxophonist Jeremy Rose and trumpeter Nick Garbett, with one contribution from bassist Mike Majkowski. The Vampires are not after anyone's blood. They just want to pump up the pulse a little, and they succeed with the track Action/Reaction. It opens with a rhythmic counterpoint figure from unaccompanied alto, trumpet and trombone, before Majkowski's bass and Alex Masso's drums arrive with a Latin ostinato that modulates ultimately into a reggae beat for the horns to accentuate and solo over. Most of the tracks use influences from Afro-Caribbean and South American grooves, while the piano-less structure allows greater harmonic freedom for the soloists. Perhaps it's the Latin rhythms, but some of these pieces sound faintly repetitious. Nevertheless, there are fine solos from everyone and interesting, often polyrhythmic, arrangements.
The fevered link that can occur between a group of musicians and their instruments whilst summoning a cacophony of constructed chaos is an astounding thing for one’s ears to witness. South Coasting, the debut album from Sydney based jazz ensemble, The Vampires, exhibits a potential for this sort of musical alchemy.
Performing together for a number of years, this quartet of accomplished musicians has created an album that is sonically tight,areal achievement for a debut release. One can surmise that the albums quality is a result of exploring the boundaries of material within a live performance environment.
Ushering in their own brand of reggae infused jazz, which incorporates Afro-Caribbean and South American grooves, the music is an invigorating mix of frenetic Ska and classical jazz. The sax and trumpet front line of Jeremy Rose and Nick Garbett exudes a musical partnership almost perfectly in sync. A rhythm section team of Mike Majkowski and Alex Masso backs this kinetic team. The albums opener, Action/Reaction, is metered by a texture of repetition that’s simultaneously calming yet unnerving. The group’s tendency for improvisation may work a treat live but does on occasion become tedious to listen to. The longer tracks tend get a little lost midway and slow down the album’s sense of calculated progression. Overall, South Coasting is an album that draws a rewarding musical landscape and is the perfect disc to accompany a lazy Sunday afternoon.
The Vampires funk infused jazz presented on their latest release South Coasting empowers bebop with bangles of Latin-dance, cool funk, acid jazz, tribal grooves, and mellow blues. The jazz quartet from Australia showcase dueling horns between saxophonist Jeremy Rose and trumpeter Nick Garbett who, at times are solidly unified, and at other times they move along two separate trails. The dynamics of the horns are the filling in the pie while the rhythm section provided by double bassist Mike Majkowski and drummer Alex Masso form the crust which holds it all together. Some tracks feature special guest Shannon Barnett on trombone who adds a lower register to the melodic fabric causing the horns create a 3-lane bypass.
The horns produce a call and response exchange through “Action/Reaction” managing bristles of funky wavelets and bebop springs. The sleek stylistics of the twirling horns form a relaxing setting through “The Beating Sun” welded to a bluesy rhythmic strut. The Latin flavoring in the flouncy horns of “Vampires Vamp Sesh” trade off lead roles while harnessing a cheery bebop syncopation. The exchanges become conversational creating cycles of excitement and slow rotations. The sluggish movements of “Long Time” enable the horns to intercept and entwine their lanes, while the tribal beating of “Extinction” cause the horns to tumble down and climb back up through the stanzas. The rhythm section acclimates to the twittering horns of the title track “South Coasting” cabling Latin-tinged hollers and shakes while simultaneously pasting funky toots through the chambers.
The Vampires keep the pace upbeat and the coordinates clipping free-style movements along “Geo Jem” fusing reggae and cool jazz as the horns ride in unison and disperse periodically, rising and slumping across the grooves. The melancholic vibrations of “Hole In The Sky” exude a somber mood while the zen-like bebop horns of “Mothers Dance” produce upbeat trails. The dueling horns of “Happy Vamping” create a quick tap dancing tempo as the slow hopping steps of “Melting River” balance on a classic jazz axis while permeating a tender breeze through the downy aura.
The Vampires model their compositions using modern tooling and bebop schemes. They infuse slabs of blues, funk, reggae, and tribal beats into their tunes making for a free-style blend. The quartet formed in 2004 while studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Their influences include Charlie Parker, Bernie McGann, and Ornette Coleman. The Vampires straddle the line between classic jazz structures and free-style improvisations on South Coasting. Their modern thinking is apparent and it gives the album a propensity to improvise material, which makes The Vampires standout from the rest.