Rivulets of water would have worn away rock in the gestation period of this album.
For 35 years, Hamish Stuart has been one of Australia's grooviest drummers across most styles. His work has graced and deepened the music of Ian Moss, Tina harrod, Marcia Hines, Jade McRae, Jackie Orszaczky, Vince Jones, The Catholics, John Waters and more. This is his first album as leader.
Not only does all that experience charge Stuart's music, but the album itself was drip-fed into existence via five years of intermittent recording. Many artists would see this as frustrating, but the end product suggests the process allowed Stuart to absorb what he had, and consider what he needed to make a rounded and cohesive statement.
On 'Songlines' (co-written by Suart and his chief collaborator, Dave Symes), Andrew Robinson's alto sax wafts across a thick pile carpet of piano (Chris Abrahams), guitar (Ben Hauptmann), congas (Aykho Akhrif), bass (Dave Symes) and drums. Despite all the rhythmic activity, the piece seems, miraculously, to float rather than canter. The Importance of Abrahams conjuring up his sparse, repetitive work with the Necks in this regard cannot be overestimated.
Stuart's brooding theme for 'Sense Of Place' could have seeped from a film noir soundtrack, and is realised by Robinson and the inventive Hauptmann against sparse bass and drums.
A trio of Stuart, Abrahams and Symes cruises through the soothing, hammock-swaying waltz that is 'You Folks'. 'Someone Else's Child' carries echoes of 'Songlines' in terms of floating amid rhythmic animation, this time tenor saxaphone commentry from Matt Ottignon and the interjection of a disquieting vocal line from Harrod and the late Orszaczky.
That mood of unease extends into the exceptional 'When It All Comes Down', with an intense, edgy dialogue between Stuart and trumpeter Phil Slater in a quartet completed by Symes and pianist Stu Hunter. Orszaczky and Harrod return for the wee-hours feel of 'The Crossing', with keening tenor from Matt Ottignon.
Stuart's taste, imagination, thoughtfulness and groove inflect his conception, compositions and playing on this outstanding debut.
John Shand - Syney Morning Herald August September 2010.
Someone Else's Child
THIS debut solo album from Sydney drummer Hamish Stuart has been a long time in the making, with the title track, featuring vocalists Tina Harrod and Jackie Orszaczky, recorded in 2003. Stuart has assembled a coterie of world-class Sydney musicians, ranging from a piano trio up to a sextet, plus the two vocalists. The style is sophisticated, interpretive and descriptively melodic in slow-to-medium tempos, some with a Latin injection aided by Aykho Akhrif's congas. Stuart's drumming is admired for his nuanced ensemble understanding. Together with pianist Chris Abrahams and long-term associate bassist Dave Symes, Stuart's trio works over a soul-infused alt-country piece, You Folks, where the drummer's soft, deceptively simple-sounding brushwork is an indispensable component. Someone Else's Child employs a Latin beat, opening with Matt Ottignon's subdued tenor and two-part vocal harmonies leading into Scott Leisman's refined guitar solo. With Stuart Hunter on piano and Phil Slater's probing, declamatory trumpet, When It All Comes Down is a searching quintet piece with ghostly harmonies. Guitarist Ben Hauptmann and saxophonist Andrew Robson complete a quartet rendition of Sense of Place, imparting a mysterious atmosphere with skilful interplay between alto and guitar.
John McBeath – The Australian / October 16, 2010
Someone Else's Child CD Launch
FEW musicians play with such authority that each note, however brief, seems chiselled in time and space. Every idea carries a level of meaning and conviction that evades
It lends the music an authenticity that is a polar opposite to decorativeness, idle entertainment or ego-driven displays of prowess. For the listener, it is what makes music moving and exhilarating.
Always carrying this authority, Hamish Stuart's drumming has been heard with a huge array of Australian musicians, across the supposed divides of idiom and age. Ian Moss, Ayers Rock, Marcia Hines, Slim Dusty, Jade MacRae, Mike Nock, Renee Geyer, Jackie Orszaczky, Vince Jones, James Morrison, The catholics and John Waters are among those to have benefited.
With such a pedigree it was no wonder the launch of his debut album as leader, Someone Else's Child, was packed with musicians, both on and off the stage. Sixteen players joined Stuart in the course of the concert, with as many as 10 on stage at a time to realise his evocative compositions, several of which were penned with his key collaborator and bassist, Dave Symes.
While the mood of each piece was very tightly defined, they allowed great freedom in the actual playing. When It All Comes Down blistered under the blowtorch of Phil Slater's trumpet and convulsed under the potency of Stuart's drumming. The Crossing featured the wordless singing of Tina Harrod, Virna Sanzone and Dan Barnett in a dark, moody setting illuminated by Matt Ottignon's tenor saxophone.
On the album's title track, Ottignon's saxophone was like a meteor arcing across a night sky of percussion, keyboards and guitars, while the singing thrilled with its drama. Throughout, Stuart brought that customary authority to bear, tempered by a warmth that few drummers match. He seldom leapt into the music's foreground, yet played with singular imagination, intensity and mastery.
Sharing the night was HIT!, a trio of Stu Hunter (organ), Matt Keegan (tenor saxophone) and Evan Mannell (drums). Their groove-based music harked back to the 1960s and was sometimes so laid-back as to feel like dinner music. Then it could erupt into more visceral and gripping phases before relaxing back into an attractive cruise mode.
HIT! performs on January 16 at the Jazzgroove Summer Festival. Stuart plays in The catholics's 20th anniversary concerts at the Seymour Centre on February 4 and 11.