The Age – March 23rd 2014
This Is Always
JULIEN WILSON (LIONSHARECORDS)
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.