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This US jazz trio, led by Nathan Brown (string bass and composer) with Felix Lemerle (guitar) and Peter Traunmueller (drums) should certainly be a hit when they perform at the Queenstown Jazz Festival from October 21-23, before a day in Christchurch on October 28 and another at Nelson on October 29.
All three are based in New York, although Brown attended Michigan State University, gaining his degree in jazz studies and also training in classical bass playing, then earning his master of music degree at Northern Illinois University. Completing the trio, Lemerle is a guitarist and composer from Paris, France, who has won prizes at international guitar competitions while Traunmueller is from Salzburg, Austria, where he attended the Bruckner Privatuniversitat.
Brown sent me a copy of this latest disc to demonstrate they are top-notch jazz artists with 10 tracks comprising a very melodic mix of interpretations of original pieces and standards, all swinging with fun that is accessible to all ears. They are smooth, not raucous, and inspire toe-tapping without ugly shouting. My favourite was the title song (remodelled from the 2001 Broadway show Jekyll and Hyde, which was revived in 2013 and still playing in New York this year.) Cheer Up, Charlie (by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley) is given a glorious, sonorous humour as mainly a string bass solo to cheer us all up. Brown’s five own compositions are easy listening, fresh and joyful, also giving his fellow musicians ample time to show their musical skills are excellent and entertaining for all ages.
Verdict: Smooth jazz expertise swings.
- Geoff Adams