The Java Quartet
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The Java Quartet

Bondi Junction, New South Wales, Australia | INDIE

Bondi Junction, New South Wales, Australia | INDIE
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Michael Galeazzi of the Java Quartet was telling me of a mate and PhD studies in music. He was investigating how different performers in a band see the same gig in different ways. It’s an interesting study, and I guess any highly trained performance art person must have experienced it. Jazz can be quite an emotional roller-coaster, but it’s part of the commitment and fascination and seriousness of it all. The time the band was in accord, after this Java Quartet gig at the University of Canberra, as was the audience. This was a great gig. Michael was up front, happy and joking and enjoying every minute. The percussion section (here I include the beatboxer along with the more obvious drums and tabla) were throwing challenges back and forth and revelling in the different sounds and styles of each of their instruments. Greg on piano and Matthew on tenor were laconic and cool but their blissful interplay said it all. This was the first gig of the tour to launch the Java Quartet’s new CD, Rejavanation, and the quartet was accompanied by two of its CD guests, Morganics on beatbox and freestyle rap, and Bobby Singh on tabla. It’s something I like, this fertile, cross-cultural experiment. It worked a treat and the band’s response just confirmed it.

I wondered if rejavanation hinted at rejuvenation, because there were a series of tunes from older JQ CDs that had been reimagined for the new CD and this concert. The album cover describes each tune by a style: trance, ambient dub, boom bap, etc.. The CD’s press release explains the music as a component of Michael’s Master studies at the Sydney Con, exploring “notions of hybridity through contemporary hypnotic landscapes” through the “meditative aesthetics of contemporary dj/dance culture and Hindustani ragas”. Intriguing and different, interesting beyond the jazz field, and obviously entertaining for the band. Because getting back to the band, they were having a great time.

Firstly I noticed the wonderful rhythmic feels. Drummer Mike was intense at surprisingly low volumes, then letting go at the end with double kick pedal; fabulous interplays between the complex tika-tak of the tabla and jazz drums and even vocal percussion; the way the beat squared up for the beatboxing from the more swung jazz segments. Then the simple, repeating melodies accompanied by moving chordal harmonies or echoing piano lines and the rippling piano and fluttering tenor bursting into full blown sax solos over intense and busy grooves. And the frequent bass solos on a Whitehead SASE that were sharp and edgy, but surprisingly deep in the recording I made on the night. Not at all strict jazz, but obviously jazz informed, and one branch of where it’s heading as it touches on other valid forms. Solos that just appeared from a band that has played together for years, and shows an unspoken interplay. There was even a ballad in there, a deeply felt, sparse thing of synth swells then sax then a touch of percussion. The whole was structurally and chordally simple, but subtly mobile and with an underlying percussive intensity. And it was even political, perhaps more validly than the current election. I missed most of the rap lines, but caught a few that spoke of Brisvegas: “Visions, valleys, concrete”; and refugees: “sometimes / we find / that time”, “sometimes / the best form of attack / is defence” and then a rap in 15 languages.

It was an intriguing jazz for a modern ear, and a mix of styles for a modern world. Great stuff. And very much enjoyed by performers and audience. The Java Quartet are Michael Galeazzi (acoustic bass), Greg Coffin (piano), Matthew Ottignon (tenor sax) and Mike Quigley (drums). Their guests were Bobby Singh (tabla) and Morganics (beatboxing, freestyling).
Posted by Eric Pozza - Canberra Jazz Blog


The seeds of the Java Quartet’s latest CD (Rejavanation) were sown when composer-bassist Michael Galeazzi started exploring the connections between modal jazz and other trance-inducing forms of music – both old and new. The result is an intriguing amalgam of contemporary jazz, North Indian percussion and digital beats, where the bandmembers interact with programmed samples and electronic dance rhythms. Since the CD was recorded, Galeazzi and his colleagues have been developing the project for a concert environment, replacing the sampled parts with live musicians whilst maintaining the hypnotic, multi-layered feel of the recording. The core members of the Sydney-based quartet (Galeazzi, saxophonist Matthew Ottignon, pianist Greg Coffin and drummer Mike Quigley) are currently touring the country to launch Rejavanation. The band will perform at Bennetts Lane tomorrow night, with two additional Java Men to help recreate the quartet’s human-digital sonic hybrid on stage: Bobby Singh (on tablas) and hip-hop producer/beat-boxer Morganics.
Jessica Nicholas
- The Age (Melbourne) 21/8/10


In short: Slinky ambient sounds of substance from Sydney.
The press release that accompanies this latest effort from Sydney outfit the Java Quartet makes mention of a desire to emulate the classic sound of the fabled Blue Note label.

Label that a mission accomplished. There is warmth here that is embracing.
The bass of Michael Galeazzi, who wrote all but one of the seven tunes, is wonderfully alive and prominent.
The band even recalls the snap of Blue Note sides by the likes of Horace Silver, with saxophonist Mathew Ottignon supplying the sort of feathery intensity for which Joe Henderson was renowned.

Mostly, though, the Java Quartet inhabits its own space, unlike that of any other aggregation, in Australia or anywhere else -- supremely melodic, full of taut, yet limpid, grooves and packed with soul. The Java Quartet launches Deep Blue Sea at Bennetts Lane on Friday.

Kenny Weir. - Sunday Herald Sun


The Java Quartet has what we now call a pop sensibility. It just means that they’re catchy at first or second hearing and they avoid complex chord structures that you have to internalise before you can really relax into the music.

That said, there is a lot of thought here, and some very nice jazz playing from all hands. The first tune opens with a wonderful, bouncing-ball bass line from leader Michael Galeazzi, and the opening riff – brief but very melodic – is repeated with a light insistence by Mat Ottignon’s tenor saxophone.

On track four Galeazzi plays three peremptory notes that step down beat by beat, then leaves five beats with no bass, repeats the procedure and so on. Mike Quigley holds a tight drum roll that seems to strain the other way. Over these engaging tensions, Ottignon and pianist Greg Coffin play with a contrasting lyrical lift.

Simple, but it allows you to hear all the levels clearly. Lovely sound ( recorded in Byron Bay ).
Lovely disc, really.

John Clare - Sydney Morning Herald


If the Java Quartet continues to improve at this rate, world domination beckons. For those familiar with Karma County, this is what bassist Michael Galeazzi does in his spare time. It's a style of jazz that is more about mood than groove, the compositions setting up contexts in which the four members can collectively build a simple idea into a major opus. This would be deadly dull if it amounted to nothing more than swapped solos and a preoccupation with making clever music, rather than painting pictures or telling stories. But this band - completed by drummer/composer Mike Quigley, saxophonist Richard Maegraith and pianist Greg Coffin - works hard at playing the pieces rather than playing their instruments, if you follow my drift. The richness and vibrancy of the sounds stops the often solemn music becoming morose. On Nursery Crimes Galeazzi sits on a slow riff which first Maegraith and then Coffin decorate sparsely before turning those decorations into sustained evocations of a mood of quiet menace. The more sprightly This Time I Can't Say apart, that quiet menace comes close to summing up the album as a whole.

John Shand. - Sydney Morning Herald


Discography

1995 - Slumber For Nordic Wonder
1997 – Glow
1998 – Passages
2001 – Dark Garden
2005 – Deep Blue Sea
2010 - Rejavanation

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Bio

Bandleader and bassist Michael Galeazzi formed the Java Quartet in 1994. Using the modal jazz styling of Miles Davis and John Coltrane as a starting point in the mid 1990s, the group has defined its own ambience through six albums, focusing upon ensemble improvisation to manifest their sound. At once driving, trance-like and reflective, The Java Quartet establishes a unique corner of sonic territory.

The Java Quartet's first release Slumber For Nordic Wonder (a tribute to the musical chanteuse Bjork), garnered the group local acclaim as an improvising ensemble devoted to creating beautiful music. The ensuing album Glow launched an international profile with the group being invited to perform at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland) in 1997. The group’s global presence flourished with the albums Glow, Passages and Dark Garden being included in the pivotal publications The Penguin Guide To Jazz on CD and Cadence Magazine (New York).

"The Java Quartet is well schooled in the Jazz tradition and has built on those concepts in presenting music with dash and a contemporary flair." Frank Rubolino, Cadence Magazine.

On the local front they have played at every major jazz venue and festival in the country including; the Manly Jazz Festival, Darling Harbour Jazz Festival, Wangaratta Jazz Festival - the home of the National Jazz Awards, Thredbo Jazz Festival, Bellingen Jazz Festival, Queensland Music Festival, Darwin Festival, The Basement in Sydney, Bennetts Lane in Melbourne, The Governor Hindmarsh in Adelaide etc. The Java Quartet has been recorded in concert several times by the national broadcaster (ABC radio) and are critically recognised as at the forefront of the contemporary Australian music scene. The Sydney Morning Herald’s John Shand reviewed the album Dark Garden as “Album Of the Week” above all releases in any genre. The track “Shadow Dancing” was nominated for an APRA for “Most Performed Jazz Work” by the national performing rights association. Kenny Weir of The Sun Herald Sun (Melbourne) succinctly evaluated the group’s appeal when reviewing the next album Deep Blue Sea:

“Mostly, though, the Java Quartet inhabits its own space, unlike that of any other aggregation, in Australia or anywhere else - supremely melodic, full of taut, yet limpid, grooves and packed with soul”.

2010 finds the group extending its musical palette with Rejavanation, a collection of remixes and new material incorporating the meditative aesthetics of contemporary dj/dance culture and Hindustani ragas. Started as a part of Michael Galeazzi’s postgraduate research at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the group has invited guests of note (including virtuosos Bobby Singh on Tabla, Adrian McNeil on sarod, lap top performer Jonathan Palmer and Hip Hop producer Morganics) to explore notions of hybridity within hypnotic, contemporary landscapes.