"First-time collaborations rarely sound as convincing and natural as this one did.” The Age
“A distinctive gumbo that was more eminently accessible, grooved harder and created a bigger sound than might have seemed possible.” - John Kelman, All About Jazz
"The Vampires play with wit, soulful melody and invention" – SMH
“Each member is an expert soloist” - The Advertiser
“Excite, provoke and soothe.” Sun Herald Sun
To celebrate 10 years since formation and their fifth album, The Vampires reached out to collaborate with one of their favourite musicians, Lionel Loueke. The Vampires were long-time admirers of the Benin-born US guitarist’s distinctive style of world-roots jazz, and composed this album specifically with Loueke’s style in mind.
Recorded following a sold-out tour of the festivals in Australia, the new album The Vampires meet Lionel Loueke captures a collective sense of excitement, all whilst capturing the groove and strong melodic sensibility that the Vampires have become renowned for. With influences from Ethio-jazz, Dub, Afro-Cuban and Indonesian Gamelan, this is a truly expansive album that justly serves the various creative forces within the band.
Loueke has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the jazz world, collaborating with seminal jazz figures including Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding and Herbie Hancock; the latter praised Loueke as “a musical painter”. His integration into to The Vampires, previously a chord-less quartet, was seamless, immediately fitting as if he were a long-standing member.
The Vampires have been relentlessly touring for the past 10 years throughout their home country Australia, with performances also in the UK, Canada and Europe. Combining risk-taking improvisation, sophisticated compositions and a unique sense of dialogue between the sax/trumpet front line, the band’s music has arguably wrought a style of their own. They were honoured to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Loueke, whose music shares a similar pool of influences, and has in turn been an influence for the Vampires.
The music on the album features music specifically composed for the collaboration by saxophonist Jeremy Rose and trumpeter Nick Garbett. Whilst Jeremy and Nick form a formidable creative team (also chief composers for their co-led Reggae-Dancehall band The Strides), their compositions bring out the collaboration’s strengths in various ways. Garbett’s music is often driven by Reggae and Afro-Cuban grooves, whilst Rose takes on several new influences including Ethiopian, Korean and Balinese music. His composing here has also been informed by his recent large ensemble composition work for his Earshift Orchestra, the critically acclaimed ‘Iron in the Blood’ (ABC / Universal).
Jeremy Rose is one of Australia’s leading saxophonists’ and composers, with his recent achievements including coming runner-up in the Australian National Jazz Awards, winning the APRA Professional Development Award and collaborating with US guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel on his latest release Within and Without (Earshift Music). His studies in classical and jazz orchestral composition have informed his writing on this album, demonstrated through his use of unusual forms and new-found influences. Nick Garbett similarly was a runner-up in the National Jazz Awards, and his writing and playing with both The Strides and his band Garfish highlight a deep love and respect for music from Africa and the Caribbean.
Bassist Jonathan Zwartz joins the band for this album, replacing original member Alex Boneham who is currently completing his Masters at the Monk Institute in LA. Zwartz is a seminal figure on the Australian jazz scene, with a number of award winning albums to his name (‘The Remembering & Forgetting of the Air,’ ‘The Sea’). His sound and tonal presence is felt throughout the album.
Drummer Danny Fischer also joins the band, co-sharing the drum and percussion role with regular member Alex Masso, whose baby was delivered at the time of recording. Fischer was a regular figure on the New York Jazz scene from 2004-12. Alex Masso brings an interesting combination of influences that sees him playing cajon and numerous percussion parts.
The album was produced by Lloyd Swanton, widely known for his bass playing with seminal group The Necks. Swanton’s side project, The catholics, has been an important group within the Australian jazz scene for over 20 years, and an important influence on The Vampires work, combining various influences from Africa and the African diaspora.
Endings and Beginnings (Rose) is an improvised sketch composed by Rose in two parts, bookending the album. The piece is dedicated to the memory of his grandfather and the birth of his niece, both occurring during the same time period .
Hard Love (Rose) features Rose’ bass clarinet and Zwartz’s bass, opening with an ostinato and easy feel melody that echoes traditional Nyabinghi music. The piece reminds us of the challenges and complexities we go through when we are in love.
Freedom Song (Rose) is dedicated to the refugees on Manus and Nauru Islands, Australia’s offshore detention centres. These centres have been deemed unlawful by the UN, and been the site of a number of tragic deaths. Many have been trapped on these Islands for years with no certain future and their only possible solution at present rests in the hands of the Trump administration. This work serves to remember those that are incarcerated there.
Green Green Green (Garbett) is a tribute to Al Green. Bendalong (Garbett) is a relaxed reggae-influenced piece by Garbett, inspired by the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia, and the sleepy surfing town that gives the piece it’s title. Torta Salata (Garbett) is a soul-drenched composition by Garbett, literally translating to ‘salty cake’ in Italian.
Suck a Seed (Rose) takes its title from the critically acclaimed ‘Keep On Keepin’ On’ documentary on trumpeter Clark Terry, directed by Garbett and Rose’s close friend, drummer turned film-maker Al Hicks. The title of Rose’s piece is a quote from the film when CT says “If at first you don’t succeed, suck a seed!”
Ubud Bubble (Rose) is a piece penned during an experience staying in the villages of Ubud, Bali. There, with the mysterious sounds of Gamelan music in the air, one can literally lose a sense of time.
Brand New (Rose) is a composition inspired by the feeling of a new start in life.
The Vampires meet Lionel Loueke is out 5 May 2017 on Earshift Music
Jeremy Rose - alto & tenor sax, bass clarinet
Nick Garbett - trumpet
Lionel Loueke - guitar and vocals
Jonathan Zwartz - double bass
Danny Fischer - drums (all tracks except 3 & 5)
Alex Masso - drums (tracks 3 & 5), cajon, bongos, pandeiro, wood block, cowbells, shakers
Recorded by Tim Whitten at Rancom St Studios, Botany NSW, June 7 & 8, 2016
Mixed by Tim Whitten at 301 Studios, Sydney, August 4 & 5, 2016
Mastered by Michael Lynch
Produced by Lloyd Swanton
Cover Art by Zdenek Burian
Design by Pat Harris
All Compositions Registered with APRA © 2016 All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorised Duplication is a violation of applicable laws.
Special thanks to all our families, partners, Pozible supporters, the PPCA, the Australia Council for the Arts, Ben Hauptmann, Jack Leitenberg, Wollongong Con, SIMA, and the Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane International Jazz Festivals.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. We acknowledge the support of the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA).