Julien Wilson

Saxophonist

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Killer review of Barney McAll’s CD Launch in Sydney on July 25th 2015

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Barney McAll review: The year’s most exhilarating night of music

John Shand
Published: July 26, 2015

Barney McAll’s ASIO

505, July 25

Duke Ellington wrote compositions with specific members of his magnificent orchestra in mind and Thelonious Monk wrote to suit his singular approach to the piano. Given that the jazz composer’s job is to inspire improvisers, Barney McAll has succeeded brilliantly with material primarily from the Mooroolbark album he was launching, with the first set of this concert among the year’s most exhilarating hours of music.

Jendhi saw guitarist Stephen Magnusson build an engrossing solo starting with just the faintest cries. February had tenor saxophonist Julien Wilson boiling and roaring and then sliding something sly into the tumult, before returning to bulldozing the room with the most potent tenor to be heard in Australia these days.

He stormed across Sigil with stupendous power, his sound so massive it seemed to threaten the structural integrity of the saxophone’s bell, before McAll cast such a spell at the piano that he even created the illusion of bending notes.

The piece’s wildly rhythmic climax had the tenor and guitar sharing a repeated unison line blasted with punctuations by McAll, Jonathan Zwartz’s bass and Hamish Stuart’s drums.

The energy reached such a pitch that the audience was spontaneously erupting in enthusiasm and disbelief. Then Non-Compliance had Magnusson sculpting another solo of such invention and beauty that it again broke free of gravity, fuelled by Stuart’s drums.

The second set began with two new pieces written under McAll’s current Peggy Glanville-Hicks Composers’ Trust Fellowship. The first, a homage to the late Allan Browne, had a swelling and ebbing melody that seemed to melt time, its gentleness establishing the tone for much of the set. The second new one was more complex, and while the performance was far from assured, this did not prevent Wilson’s tenor erupting once more like some Indonesian volcano.

McAll featured in the dream-like Nectar Spur and the rampant gospel of Apple Tree, which had a spirited, almost bludgeoning bass solo from Zwartz and typically infectious, galvanising drumming from Stuart.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/barney-mcall-review-the-years-most-exhilarating-night-of-music-20150726-gikmcr.html

The year’s most exhilarating night of music

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Barney McAll review: The year’s most exhilarating night of music
July 26, 2015 – John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald
Reviewer rating: 4.5*s
Barney McAll’s ASIO
505, July 25

Article Lead - wide998653995gikpsrimage.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.gikmcr.png1437886456199.jpg-620x349

Duke Ellington wrote compositions with specific members of his magnificent orchestra in mind and Thelonious Monk wrote to suit his singular approach to the piano. Given that the jazz composer’s job is to inspire improvisers, Barney McAll has succeeded brilliantly with material primarily from the Mooroolbark album he was launching, with the first set of this concert among the year’s most exhilarating hours of music.

Jendhi saw guitarist Stephen Magnusson build an engrossing solo starting with just the faintest cries. February had tenor saxophonist Julien Wilson boiling and roaring and then sliding something sly into the tumult, before returning to bulldozing the room with the most potent tenor to be heard in Australia these days.

He stormed across Sigil with stupendous power, his sound so massive it seemed to threaten the structural integrity of the saxophone’s bell, before McAll cast such a spell at the piano that he even created the illusion of bending notes.

The piece’s wildly rhythmic climax had the tenor and guitar sharing a repeated unison line blasted with punctuations by McAll, Jonathan Zwartz’s bass and Hamish Stuart’s drums.

The energy reached such a pitch that the audience was spontaneously erupting in enthusiasm and disbelief. Then Non-Compliance had Magnusson sculpting another solo of such invention and beauty that it again broke free of gravity, fuelled by Stuart’s drums.

The second set began with two new pieces written under McAll’s current Peggy Glanville-Hicks Composers’ Trust Fellowship. The first, a homage to the late Allan Browne, had a swelling and ebbing melody that seemed to melt time, its gentleness establishing the tone for much of the set. The second new one was more complex, and while the performance was far from assured, this did not prevent Wilson’s tenor erupting once more like some Indonesian volcano.

McAll featured in the dream-like Nectar Spur and the rampant gospel of Apple Tree, which had a spirited, almost bludgeoning bass solo from Zwartz and typically infectious, galvanising drumming from Stuart.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/barney-mcall-review-the-years-most-exhilarating-night-of-music-20150726-gikmcr.html

Julien Wilson Quartet @ Stonnington Jazz Festival 2015

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Stonnington Jazz Festival: double bill a soulful celebration
May 17, 2015 – Jessica Nicholas, The Age

JULIEN WILSON QUARTET / KRISTIN BERARDI & JAMES SHERLOCK – 4 stars
Malvern Town Hall, May 16

This time last year, saxophonist Julien Wilson scored a hat trick at the Bell Awards when his quartet album This is Always took first place in three different categories. The album is, on the surface, a no-frills, no-fireworks affair: an unrehearsed ballads session that happened to produce one of the finest Australian jazz recordings in recent years.

Live, too, this quartet is more about burnished flame than blazing fire, as Wilson and his colleagues demonstrated in their splendid Stonnington Jazz set on Saturday. The double-bill show opened with a duo set from Kristin Berardi and James Sherlock, who managed to conjure a mood of intimacy in the capacious Malvern Town Hall.

Berardi is a wonderfully creative singer, but her horn-like embellishments and variations are never at the expense of the lyrics or the sentiment behind them. Ode to Ollie ached with tenderness, while a playful Tangerine saw the singer stretching and condensing fragments of the lyric over Sherlock’s buoyant guitar lines.

Like Berardi, Julien Wilson has a marvellously fluid quality to his phrasing that makes it feel utterly natural and unforced. He can create an air of majesty with a bold upward sweep on his tenor, or sustain a single, barely-perceptible note with the focus of a Zen monk.

His quartet companions on Saturday (pianist Barney McAll, bassist Jonathan Zwartz and drummer Allan Browne) shared Wilson’s less-is-more inclination, letting each elegant, unhurried piece unfold without the need for showy or virtuosic displays.

Towards the end of the set, the mood became more bluesy and propulsive – particularly on Weeping Willow, which developed a soulful, celebratory swagger before melting into an unexpectedly hushed coda.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/stonnington-jazz-festival-double-bill-a-soulful-celebration-20150517-gh3fzj.html#ixzz3h5krBPLK

Birdland Records Top 30 – 2014

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‘Swailing’ and ‘This is Always’ both made it in to the 2014 Best Sellers List at #8! & #2!!, along with Jonathan Zwartz’s ‘The Remembering and Forgetting of the Air’ at #3. Incredibly exciting news considering the record label was launched less than a year ago.
Birdland Top30 2014

Albums now available

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Albums now available

Julien Wilson TrioSwailing (lionsharecords) Buy
Overdue follow up to Trio-Live & while you were sleeping
Recorded by Niko Schauble. Mixed and Mastered by Lachlan Carrick.
Available as cardboard gatefold CD package and 96k/24bit digital download.
Official 2014 CD Launch Tour Dates

Julien WilsonThis is Always (lionsharecords) Buy
Ballads album featuring Barney McAll, Jonathan Zwartz and Allan Browne.
Recorded by Ross Cockle. Mixed and mastered by David Darlington.
Available as cardboard gatefold CD package and 44.1k/24bit download.
2014 Australian Tour Dates

 

Also Available:

Sam Anning/Julien Wilson/Allan BrowneSweethearts (ListenHearCollective)
Collection of excellent Anning originals, special standards and one Wilson original. Officially launched at the 2013 Wangaratta Jazz Festival. Available now online here Recorded by Ross Cockle. Mixed and mastered by Dave Darlington

Jonathan Zwartz – the remembering and forgetting of the air (Planet/MGM)
Available through Birdland Records. Officially launched at the 2013 Wangaratta Jazz Festival – beautifully recorded, amazing collection of Zwartz originals performed by Jonathan Zwartz, Barney McAll, Phil Slater, Julien Wilson, James Greening, Richard Maegraith, Steve Magnusson, Hamish Stuart and Fabian Hevia. Winner of the 2013 AIR award for Best Independent Jazz Release and 2013 ARIA Award Finalist.

 

Swailing Review – Jazzwise

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Swailing Review – Jazzwise

Julien Wilson Trio

Swailing

lionsharecords LSR 20142 ★★★

Julien Wilson (ts, b cl, ss), Stephen Magnusson (g), Steve Grant (acc)

Swailing is a very Australian concept, a controlled burn of the bush aimed at promoting regrowth. In spite of the title, the music on this CD has a very European feel, at times reminiscent of an ECM recording, no doubt as a consequence of the unusual composition of the trio, no rhythm section but with an accordion.

But there are important differences mainly flowing from song selection. After a delicious Wilson penned opening track, with the marvelously titled “I Believe This Belongs To You” comes Hermeto Pascoal’s “Little Church”, most famously heard on Miles Davis’s “Live Evil”. A little later, Gabriel Faure’s “Meditation”, Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust”, even Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” and finally, Ornette Coleman’s “Chanting”, plus several originals.

The trio benefits from having performed together over many years (their first CD, “Live” dates from 2007) as they weave in and out with a beautiful precision that only experience can bring. All three members both solo and provide accompaniment, the resulting music ebbs and flows producing a gorgeous sound. The occasional overdub fills out the music, most notably Wilson’s bass clarinet.

Although mostly subdued, it is a strangely uplifting and enjoyable music. Grant is just fabulous throughout; Magnusson demonstrates that he is an all-round guitarist and in places squeezes out very un-guitar like sounds. All the while Wilson is sublime, at times his breathy tenor is reminiscent of Ben Webster.

What makes this all the more impressive is that this was released together with a completely different album and band, the mainstream ballad collection, “This Is Always”, also on lionsharecords. On this album his Websterisms come to the fore.

Michael Prescott

This Is Always CD Review – The Age

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This Is Always CD Review – The Age

The Age – March 23rd 2014

JAZZ

This Is Always

JULIEN WILSON (LIONSHARECORDS)

****1/2

A tenor saxophone making gentle, sensuous jazz is a grand tradition, like paddle-steamers cruising on wide, slow rivers. Ben Webster Plays Ballads remains one of jazz’s must-have recordings, and now Julien Wilson eases his own tenor into that tradition, in the process creating one of the great Australian jazz albums.

This is music where the horn’s sound seems to melt before your ears, becoming creamy, viscous and rather sly. Sometimes it is so fragile that it fades to little more than pulsing breath passing through the saxophone, or that fragility may find release in a sudden cry. Wilson has all this in place and his phrasing is so relaxed that the tenor seems to massage you as you listen.

The pieces are mostly ballads, of course, including some originals, and pianist Barney McAll, bassist Jonathan Zwartz and drummer Allan Browne are peerless at making them heartfelt, rather than just being pastiches. Any music becomes new, after all, when played with complete conviction.

Wilson has simultaneously released a gorgeous album by his trio with guitarist Stephen Magnusson and accordionist Steve Grant called Swailing. Buy both.

John Shand

Swailing + This is Always – Double review in Rhythms

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Swailing + This is Always – Double review in Rhythms

This is Always FRONT COVER

Rhythms – February 2014

Julien Wilson Trio – Swailing

Also Julien Wilson – This is Always

lionsharecords

Melbourne saxophonist Julien Wilson had an interesting 2013, the lowlight being a  minor surgery gone wrong, which saw him hospitalised for a couple of weeks (at one stage in serious danger), and unable to play for another several weeks. Happily, he bounced back in time to play some memorable gigs at Wangaratta Jazz (and then at Bennetts Lane), some of them promoting his recent recordings.

Wilson made crucial contributions to recent releases by bassists Jonathan Zwartz and Sam Anning. But he has really excelled himself on these two recordings under his own name.

Swailing features his long-running trio with Stephen Magnusson (guitar) and Steve Grant (accordion). They share a remarkable affinity, favouring a spacious sound, wherein the sighing tones of the two Steves cushion and embrace Wilson’s most attractive, yearning forays on the tenor sax. Or (which is a new aspect, for this trio at least) his playing on soprano sax or bass clarinet.

There are 14 tracks here, many of them quite concise. Wilson and Magnusson provide several originals, and there are interpretations of pieces by composers as diverse as Ellington, Ornette, Waller, Hoagy Carmichael, Gabriel Faure and Hermeto Pascoal. The unusual, yet attractive, combination of instruments is perhaps the first thing you’ll notice, before you appreciate the rare skills of all three players, and their ability to combine their voices so seamlessly.

This Is Always finds Wilson playing a program of standard ballads, leading what he describes as a ‘classic’ quartet: tenor sax, piano, bass, drums. It seems that Wilson avoided recording in this format until he felt ready. And he certainly was ready to play these songs – gorgeous ballads like ‘This Is Always’, ‘Body And Soul’, ‘Deep Night’, ‘Stairway To The Stars’, plus a few compatible originals – with a level of maturity, and a storytelling quality that place him proudly in the lineage of such great tenor balladeers as Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Joe Lovano.

Of course, it helps that he was joined by the very special combination of Barney McAll (piano), Jonathan Zwartz (bass) and Allan Browne (drums). The pianist has a long history with both Zwartz and Browne, but this was the first time the three had played together as a rhythm section. They combine as if they have been working together for years, achieving an effortless depth of swing that is not often heard here, and inspiring Wilson to play with admirably understated eloquence. The solos from McAll and Zwartz are consistently superb, too. In the mood for some classic jazz ballad playing? Do not miss this album.

By Adrian Jackson

# Julien Wilson Trio – Swailing #

This is Always CD Review on AustralianJazz.net

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This Is Always (Lionsharecords)
 Julien Wilson Quartet
Review by John Clare – Nov 21st 2013

These are curious and poignant days for those of us who have felt connections to a stream of Australian music that began flowing as far back as the 1940s with Graeme and Roger Bell and their colleagues (who in turn connected us to Rex Stewart, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll and all that has since transpired).

Dave Ades and Bernie McGann – both great alto players, and also dear friends – have moved on, while others, including Julien Wilson and Allan Browne, have experienced extreme vicissitudes of health. It is easy to inflate what is in fact a small cluster of coincidences and the simple inevitability of people reaching a certain age – though some are in fact quite young – but very deep feelings have been tapped. It is easy to see omens in nature. Bushfires have raged in the Blue Mountains and charcoal and burnt sienna smoke has spread down over Sydney. The sun at some hours has burned through with the orange of an electrical element, and late in the day in a weird neon disc of hot pink. But firemen came from Victoria and New Zealand to help. Furthermore the rain is crashing down now at last and the black streets are splashing and shining in the night.

On cue, as it seems, I have received This is Always, plus two others, reviews of which will soon follow.

In the notes to this disc, Julien Wilson says, ‘This is my first recording with a Classic Quartet playing standards’. What, then, are standards in this context? Tunes that have become standard fare in a repertoire sometimes revisited often, sometimes rarely. ‘All Shook Up’ and ‘Slippin’ And A-Slidin” are rock and roll standards. They are perhaps my favourites in that area, speaking to me from my mid teens in the mid 1950s – the classic rock and roll era. Yet they are rarely played. This is true also of a broader stream of standards, but some of these are visited perhaps too often with too little attempt at understanding. This stream began pre-rock and roll and the tunes are usually in ballad form with the chorus leading and the verse forming a bridge (in recent pop the reverse is usually the case). These melodies may have begun their lives in movies or Broadway shows, or on the Hit Parade (as the charts were once called). Many have continued as vehicles for jazz expression and exploration, while others were written expressly for that purpose.

This kind of standard can be presented as middle of the road fare, or it can be taken into abstract, lonely and even alienating regions. Willie Nelson once made an album of standards, because they were as familiar to him on the family radio as the Grand Ole Opry. I think my favourites are the mysterious and even somewhat cosmic standards, such as ‘Deep Night’ (beautifully played on this disc), ‘Deep In A Dream’, ‘Where Or When’, ‘Stairway To the Stars’, (also beautifully played here), ‘Midnight Sun’, ‘Laura’ (is the face in the misty light) and so on. The bluesy standard is represented here by Duke Ellington and Bobby Troups’ ‘The Sound Of Jazz’. Other examples elsewhere include ‘Stormy Weather’ and ‘Blues In The Night’. Some have become jazz standards and mainstream popular standards simultaneously – I think of ‘St Louis Blues’ and ‘Ain’t Misbehavin” , thanks to performances by such as Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller, who were at once influential jazz artists and world wide pop stars.

Julien Wilson and his players have approached their sometimes unusual selection of standards from a particular jazz point of view, which means that both the formal and the emotional aspects of each are explored. McAll has explored many areas since he specialised in this music, but hear how easily summons the idiom. Treat it as pure music if you like, but you’ll most likely feel the grip of deep and subtle feelings. Some were home for troops in World War Two. You can feel that here. Stan Getz fell and died, or died and fell on stage playing ‘Out Of Nowhere’. Not all these melodies are in standard ballad form, and a few have been written by Wilson (making them originals not standards, though they could be the latter). Wilson’s ‘Trout River’ is particularly beautiful.

The band Wilson has chosen could scarcely be surpassed anywhere: Wilson (tenor saxophone and on the last track clarinet), Barney McAll ( piano) Jonathan Zwartz (bass) and Allan Browne, drums. Wilson notes incredulously that bassist Zwartz (from Sydney) and drummer Browne (from Melbourne) had never played together. They sound as if they have played themselves into a special musical relationship over years. Browne is, like myself, somewhat older than the others. And like Wilson he has distinguished himself in areas from deep trad to the avant garde. The rhythm section is of course of paramount importance in this melodically, rhythmically and harmonically subtle form, where the interacting band can seem to drift effortlessly as smoke across the land, or break into stress patterns, deep swells and concussions, like the sea.

Look, I’ll say no more than that Julien is both subtle and magnificent. The tenor saxophone is like smoke, and it is like carved oak in his hands. Even at his softest his presence is large, and the same must be said for Jonathan Zwartz’s great dark bass, pizzicato or arcetto. Even at their softest, smokiest, most meditational or sensual this band keeps the form strong. Apparently this disc sold better than any other at Wangaratta this year. You should have it. A study will begin, and a deep connection. Here in Sydney Birdland is the most likely place to get it.

This is Always + Swailing – Feature Review in The Australian

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This is Always + Swailing – Feature Review in The Australian

Swailing FRONT COVER
This is Always
Julien Wilson Quartet
Lionsharecords
4.5 stars

Swailing
Julien Wilson Trio
Lionsharecords
4.5 stars

Review by John McBeath – Nov 16th 2013

MELBOURNE saxophonist Julien Wilson was one of the highlights of this month’s Wangaratta Jazz Festival where, among other appearances, he launched his quartet album, This is Always. Considering that only six weeks earlier Wilson had come close to death with anaphylactic shock during a hernia operation and has weakened abdominal muscles, his performances were remarkable.

The new recording brings together a stellar group: New York-based pianist Barney McAll, Sydney bassist Jonathan Zwartz and Melbourne drummer Allan Browne. The title track opener, after McAll’s dreamy piano intro, descends deliciously into deeply moving tenor territory as Wilson delivers the theme in a beautiful re-creation of Coleman Hawkins. Then, as a perfect bass line and Browne’s subtly sophisticated brushes arrive, Wilson begins to softly explore with superb rhythmic sense, and the effect is everything a nostalgic, romantic ballad should be. Hawkins’s signature piece Body and Soul is reprised, or rather reinvented here at a slower tempo, and roundly imbued with a ceaseless flow of inspired ideas. Six of the nine tracks are wonderfully interpreted standards and the others are Wilson compositions, including a New Orleans style dirge, Farewell, featuring the leader’s excellent clarinet against bowed bass. There’s an infectiously swinging version of The Party’s Over and a slower, luscious rendition of Stairway to the Stars.

On the Swailing collection Wilson’s well-established trio uses its rather unusual instrumentation, adding Stephen Magnusson’s expert guitar and the perfectly appropriate accordion of Steve Grant to Wilson’s reeds. Grant’s instrument offers melodic and harmonic contributions, and one of the pleasant aspects of this album is the way these components are seamlessly exchanged between guitar and accordion. There’s a sprinkling of standards, including an all-too-short taste of Stardust for just over a minute of superlative tenor, and a quickened, impressive soprano sax workout on Jitterbug Waltz. An almost symphonic opening to Ornette Coleman’s Chanting has guitar and accordion continuing a wash behind the tenor’s climb into high-register excitement.

Wilson’s command of the bass clarinet is evident in his composition Midway, where he lays down an ostinato for the guitar’s melodic statement and later overdubs some inspired soprano sax. The sumptuous harmonies of Gabriel Faure’s Meditation are unhurriedly explored by meaningful meanderings of the tenor as accordion supplies a backdrop and the guitar adds important countering notes. Bass clarinet reappears for Magnusson’s composition Various and employs some tricky reed effects over accordion chord stabs as the guitar lopes sedately along. Another of Magnusson’s originals, My First 2001, after an out-of-tempo beginning, features exuberant guitar jumps as accordion and tenor underscore. A similar sentiment ignites Wilson’s Everybody Happy as the tenor hits a jubilant lift-off.

These two great new albums from top-level Australian jazz players can’t fail to enjoy widespread appeal.
John McBeath

This is Always
Review by Ian Muldoon – JazzAndBeyond – Jan 2014
5 stars

Some older listeners may recall an album by Archie Shepp (Live at the Donaueschingen Music Festival 1967) which features one track and one track only- ‘One for the Trane’. It begins with a lengthy bass solo by Jimmy Garrison culminating in his trade mark flamenco style. Memorable. Some of you may also recall David Murray’s ‘Special Quartet’ which of course, featured Trane’s rhythm section.

My point? Julien Wilson’s album ‘This is Always’ has something to recommend it and is not a million miles from comparison with the aforesaid artists, and yet, it is an album of ballads including few ‘war horses’ such as Body and Soul.

In short, we have before us an album “in the tradition” played by seriously accomplished modern musicians at the top of their game. Not a lick in evidence. Quite moving in fact. One of the highlights ‘Wine and Water’ is an original by Mr Wilson and sits appropriately in the middle of this recital. Solos by piano and bass are the highlights. – The track begins with a bass solo (2.04s) which in its power, feeling, timing and construction is a great musical moment.

It sets the bar very high but Mr McAll, whose solo piano recital in St Patrick’s Cathedral at the 2013 Wangaratta Jazz Festival was, for me, the highlight of that festival, follows with a solo which moves from the bell like sounds of water falling to a percussive and powerful climax which matches Mr Zwartz’s bass. Mr Browne and Mr Wilson support and frame these solos, with some telling cymbal splashes and great timing and touch by Mr Browne on drums.

‘Farewell’ is drenched with feeling and recalls the tradition of ‘Flee as a Bird’ (Psalm 11) and is a stunning coda to a magnificent recital by this “classic” quartet. Mr Wilson is featured on clarinet. Music is feeling above all, and this album proves the rule. Maximum stars for this album.
Ian Muldoon