Album of the Week – ‘The Burden of Memory’ by Jamie Oehlers
‘The Burden of Memory’ by Jamie Oehlers is Eastside Radio’s Album of the Week.
Recorded in New York in February of this year, this will be Oehlers twelfth album and counting, featuring some of the best talent from Australia and across the globe and once again wowing audiences. Upon receiving a $60,000 creative fellowship grant from the WA Department of Arts and Culture, the artist set out to not only showcase his own as well as his close friends outstanding abilities, but to take their passions global. Over a very compress amount of time and in between competing career duties as the WA Academy of Performing Arts jazz studies course co-ordinator, Oehlers managed to produce ‘The Burden of Memory’ featuring US musicians Eric Harland and Reuben Rogers, alongside close friend, collaborator and influencer Australian pianist Paul Grabowsky.
His longevity as a staple within the Australian Jazz music scene began at the tender age of 19, after receiving the James Morrison Award, along with multiple Bell Awards as each album and collaboration were released. It’s still early days for this release in Australia, but we know a winner when we hear one! This album’s particular troop debuted in 2010 at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, a stage the configuration took to once again just before the recording. The five year break is clearly evident within the depths of the album as Oehlers took the time to understand how each musician operated to ensure the highest quality recording once heading to New York.
If you’ve been living under a rock and know nothing about the man, the first stop on this album for you is it’s title track. It’s design would test the best and of course see’s Oehlers glide gracefully and without hesitation throughout. ‘The Burden of Memory’ is a collage of music, and focusing on something as simple as it’s rhythmic structure showcases it’s complexity. It begins somewhat a-tonally and experimentally with a solo featuring Eric Harland on drums, then throws in slightly more structure as it echo’s multiple rhythmic styles such as those found within Latin disciplines and grounded further by a classic up-tempo jazz swing, again keeping Harland on his toes in the engine room. Then comes the phrasing and melody line of it’s A section, led by Oehlers. Continuing the with the atonal theme, the piano, played by the one and only Paul Grabowsky, challenges the saxophonist’s melody line with a highly dissonant interpretation of the supporting chordal arrangement, tamed shortly after by Oehlers persistence. The piano and saxophone continue to tussle throughout the arrangement providing further excitement for audiences, as well as a saxophone solo that any aspiring musician should take the time to replay, transcribe, and decode if they see themselves taking the art to a professional level.
Now if your sitting in owe or your head’s been left spinning after that track, your next move should be ‘And Moonbeams’. Caught between a ballard, slow swing and a slow shuffle, this track features Oehlers ability to command his instrument. It’s all about breath control, space and thought. With Reuben Rogersl on bass to serve, as all good bass players should, as the chordal home for the remainder of the ensemble, Oehlers takes advance of this freedom by bringing out the colours and shades of this composition through improvisation. The archetype of the story he tells through the instrument is grounded in the basics of how to improvise, a slow steady introduction with momentum building towards a complex and again slightly experimental climax being brought down once again to a more subdued melody line. This format along with melodic phrasing and styling contextualises the piece, referenced by Grabowsky in his subsequent solo which also supports the two instruments meeting again towards the latter half of the piece as they both return to the main melody line structure as well as reverting back to their positions as soloist and accompaniment.
There is so much more to this album but rather than spoil it for you here, make sure to grab your copy of Jamie Oehlers album ‘The Burden of Memory’ today!
Jamie Oehlers; tenor saxophone
Paul Grabowsky; piano
Reuben Rogersl; bass
Eric Harland; drums
3. ‘The Burden of Memory’
4. ‘First Movement’ (J. Oehlers, R. Rogers)
5. ‘Portrait in Black and White’ (A. C. Jobim)
6. ‘The Dreaming’
7. ‘Second Movement’ (J. Oehlers, E. Harland)
8. ‘The Deep Freeze’
9. ‘And Moonbeams’ (J. Van Heusen)
10. ‘Third Movement’ (J. Oehlers, P. Grabowsky)
11. ‘Helix’ (P. Grabowsky)
You can catch the Australian launch of the album live at Venue 505 on the 7th of October. For more information click here
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