Jeremy Rose & The Earshift Orchestra: Discordia

Glowering Australian 18-piece plays a largely atonal set that's sometimes free, often reflective, occasionally rocking

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If you count the leader himself, Jeremy Rose’s Earshift Orchestra is an 18-piece Australian power pack that includes four trumpets and four trombones, but the nine Rose-written tracks on this album are always seeking ways of employing its members with taste and tact.

Rose the composer subverts the role which such a traditional combination is ever ready to assume though. He’s mindful of the resources waiting their turn and always creative in calling on them for variations of colour, energy and dynamic. That can mean holding fire completely for Floating Just Beyond Reach, a feature for pianist Novak Mano Jlovic, or modelling what amounts to a one-movement concerto for soprano sax with Rose himself as the soloist in the album’s longest track, Just For Laughs, with its aspiration to great arcs of sound.

The orchestra has a key worker in drummer Chloe Kim, who establishes the gallop of the first part of Vera Discordia and keeps it on the move despite a sax choir and the emergence of a big rich sound; and she introduces the rock beat that drives the album’s first conversational duo for trumpet (Tom Avgenicos) and trombone (James Macaulay). Rose brings everyone in to clothe and finally envelop the two.

Kim drives Loudspeaker, in which the double soloists are trumpet (Avgenicos again) and tenor sax (his brother, Michael). It’s a complex, riff-inflected melody of a tendency heard elsewhere on the album. Kim’s a roaring fire, but adopts a light rock beat for The Illusion Of Perfection, a quiet vehicle for guitarist Hilary Geddes, who’s a model of composure. In the company of bassist Jacques Emery and tenor saxophonist Lachy Hamilton on the chase theme of Echo Chamber, Geddes lets fly without overdoing it. Rose coaxes transparency from the upper reaches of the bass clarinet for the reflective Unverified Persona, in which he holds back the orchestral accompaniment without the listener being in any doubt that it’s ready and waiting.

An album demonstrating that the big band tradition is not moribund but still bristling with potential for runaway as well as modest statement.

Discography
Vera Discordia (Part 1); Vera Discordia (Part 2); Floating Just Beyond Reach; Loudspeaker; The Illusion Of Perfection; Just For Laughs; Bring Back The Nineties; Unverified Persona; Echo Chamber (51.30)
Rose (cond, ss, bcl); Tessie Overmeyer, Hinano Fujisaki (as); Michael Avgenicos, Lachlan Hamilton (ts); Nick Bowd (bar, bcl); James Powers, Thomas Avgenicos, Simon Ferenci, Ellen Kirkwood (t); James Macaulay, Jacob Parks, Cailey Mei Soon (tb); Nick Barnard (btb); Novak Mano Jlovic (p, kyb); Hilary Geddes (g); Jacques Emery (b); Chloe Kim (d). Sydney, 13 January 2023.
Earshift Music EAR082