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Panacea

Panacea

Phil Broadhurst Quintet

 
One of the best albums of 2015, Sunday Star Times
 
BEST JAZZ ALBUM, 2016
 
 
 
 
  

description

 

Phil Broadhurst (piano)
Roger Manins (saxophone)
Oli Holland (bass)
Cameron Sangster (drums)
Mike Booth (trumpet)
and special guest Neil Watson (guitar, pedal steel)

This new album from Phil Broadhurst is the third instalment in what he loosely describes as his 'Dedication Trilogy'. Where Delayed Reaction celebrated the life and career of Michel Petrucciani, and Flaubert's Dance paid homage to a number of the artists who have influenced his writing and performing (from Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett to Many Katché, Elaine Elias and Tomaz Stanko), the music on Panacea springs from the often-unconscious influences that form the building blocks of a composition. Phil says that these derive not only from the wide jazz landscape explored in his radio programme “The Art of Jazz”, but also from experiences arising from playing and teaching.

"A piano student noted that Precious Metal was clearly influenced by Horace Silver due to the shuffle groove, the use of parallel minor major 7 chords, and the fact that we had recently examine Silver’s music in the Composition class. This, I was completely unaware of until it was pointed out. Absent Friends began as an experiment in writing a melody that can be adapted easily into a different time signature: in this case the A section in 6/4 is repeated, but in 5/4. This piece is dedicated to a number of NZ jazz musicians I’ve had the pleasure of working with who have passed away in recent years like Beaver and Tony Hopkins. Panacea is a tribute to a fine exponent of jazz-fusion, the late guitarist Martin Winch. The tune is named after the band I co-led with him in the late 70s. Inverted refers to a pedal point, usually played in the bass, transferred to a higher register and acting as a pivot for shifting harmonies. Here the pedal note is echoed by electric guitar. Pukeko becomes an homage to Jimmy Rowles’ classic jazz ballad “The Peacocks”, a connection realised only after the tune was completed, while Knee Lever refers to a component of Neil Watson’s newly acquired pedal steel guitar. Japanese Shadows is adapted from a theme written for my son Cameron’s film of the same name."
Phil Broadhurst, March 2015

 

“Despite his many achievements, Broadhurst is not content to rest on his laurels, which is perhaps the key to his continued growth as a musician. [His music is] a testament to the global language of jazz, which crosses international boundaries with enviable ease.” – Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz

“As the first recipient of the RMNZ award for services to jazz, and three-time winner of jazz album of the year, pianist and composer Phil Broadhurst is one of the main reasons why jazz in New Zealand is so vital and vibrant. He has that rare ability to acknowledge a love affair and take it in a direction where only he can go.” – Mike Alexander, Sunday Star Times

 

credits

 

Panacea
Phil Broadhurst Quintet  
RAT-J-1028 (October, 2015) 

Produced by Phil Broadhurst
Engineered by Steve Garden
Design by UnkleFranc

Drive (4:29)
Japanese Shadows (3:16)
Panacea (4:41) - Dedicated to Martin Winch
Inverted (8:43)
Precious Metal (6:06) - Dedicated to Horace Silver
Wheeler of Fortune (7:26) - Dedicated to Kenny Wheeler
Knee Lever (5:34)
Pukeko (5:30)
Ludo (4:43) - Dedicated to Ludovic de Preissac
Absent Friends (6:22)
Japanese Shadows (solo reprise) (2:51)

 

reviews

 

Although Panacea is the bookend of a dedication trilogy, it is in many ways a reflective journey of the influences Phil Broadhurst has been exposed to and exposed on radio as host of The Art of Jazz. And while many of the pieces on Panacea are tributes or goodbyes to friends and musicians he's admired, such as Martin Winch (Panacea) and Ludovic de Preissac (Ludo), there's a tenderness and clarity of thought throughout that's loving;y celebratory. The soloing is exceptional, the compositions robust and full of possibility, particularly Precious Metal, where saxophonist Roger Manins takes flight. One day his peers will be writing dedications to Broadhurst.
 
Mike Alexander, Sunday Star Times
 

‘Panacea’ is the third of Phil Broadhurst’s ‘dedication trilogy’ series and as fine as the earlier two albums were, this one stands out. Everything about it is superb, the individual performances, the ensemble playing, the recording quality, the cover art by Cameron Broadhurst and above all the compositions. Broadhurst, always a prolific composer has excelled himself here. Instead of theming the album around a particular influence or musician he has tapped into the subliminal forces guiding his creativity.
 
This is the more difficult pathway and I suspect one that is fraught with risk. Delving into the subconscious mind can produce perverse results, as anyone who has suffered long-winded descriptions of someone elses dreams will know. Working in this way requires a ‘quantum’ approach; be aware but don’t look too closely or what you examine will disappear like Schrödinger’s cat. Poets (and cats) understand this.
 
When he composed ‘Precious Metal’ he was at first unaware of the influence until a student pointed it out. It certainly speaks of Horace Silver but more importantly it conjures the essence of the man behind the music. The ensemble playing on this is simply sublime. An arranged head yields to Mike Booth on trumpet. He swiftly encapsulates the ethos of Silver in his delightfully moody solo. Broadhurst follows – expanding on the theme and signalling the direction, effectively setting the tune up for Roger Manins and Oli Holland who follow. There is a logical flow throughout and the piece works all the better because of it. I have heard it several times, but even on first hearing it sounded warmly familiar. That is the skill of good writing; evocation not imitation.
 
For me the greatest joy was ‘Wheeler of Fortune’ his Kenny Wheeler tribute. So well realised was the mood that it might have been John Taylor playing a Wheeler composition. Again this is an extraordinary piece of writing and articulation, lovely because while capturing the style of these lost lamented greats it reminds us just what made them so dear to our hearts. In spite of being a piece for piano trio you can sense Wheeler reaching for those impossible high notes or mournfully smearing his over-running melancholic lines. It must have been tempting to use Booth’s flugel on this, but the implied sound is all the more powerful.
 
Like ‘Panacea’, the heart-felt ballad ‘Absent Friends’ is a lament for band mates passed from us; the delicately woven lines conveying a sense of reverence and affection. This is Broadhurst the romantic and Manins demonstrating the best of his formidable ballad playing skills. Another piece ‘knee lever’ begins with Neil Watson’s Pedal Steel guitar sounding quietly above the melody; understated like a soft sunrise casting a glow on the sea. As the piece progresses there are several surprises, first from Broadhurst who imbues it with a distinct rhythmic treatment (like that of Eliane Elias) – then Watson solos – his soaring guitar reaching for the sky. As the horns come in I am aware of a subtle Wheeler influence again. I played it over several times and yes, above the arranged horn phrases I hear a Norma Winstone like wordless voice.
 
I look in the liner notes, no human voice shown – then it struck me. This is Watson, again understated but adding something to the piece which lifts it into the realm of musical magic – an exceptional and original musician. The album would be the poorer without his contributions. Subconscious influences shape every musicians work and it is right to celebrate those. Purging these influences is often a mistake. All creative people whether writers, poets, musicians or painters have these voices at their core. Improvising musicians stand on the shoulders of giants and it is fitting to celebrate that. Broadhurst has done so with due reverence, due acknowledgement but never sycophancy. This was his time to say thank you and his own original voice shone through the multitude of influences.
 
Booth sounds better each time I hear him. His undoubted strength lying in the way he reminds us of the great traditional trumpet players – especially those from the Hardbop era (like Blue Mitchell). A wonderful musician, a fine arranger and one who nicely compliments a saxophone modernist like Manins. Playing off the latter gives the edge. Manins is such an original that you hear something new and exciting each time he plays. I have observed before how well he plays off Broadhurst compositions. This says something about the skill of both men.
 
Bass player Oli Holland and drummer Cameron Sangster are the remaining components of the rhythm section. Their performances are hard swinging; understanding the right moment to amp things up or to dial back. Everyone is playing at a high level on this album, everyone is indispensable.
 
The word panacea is from the ancient Greek meaning ‘all healing’. The modern definition extends the concept beyond cure-all potion – applying it more to the realm of ideas. The album is truly a balm in our troubled times. I highly recommend it as a Christmas present to yourself or a loved one. It must surely be contender for next years Tui’s.
 
Jon Fenton, JonJazz32.com
 

The third part of jazz pianist Phil Broadhurst’s ‘dedication’ trilogy of albums (the others being 2011’s ‘Delayed Reaction’ and ‘Flaubert’s Dance’ from two years later), ‘Panacea’ is as much a reflection on Broadhust’s musical journey as it is dedicatory. Recorded in early 2015 by Steve Garden of Rattle Records, it features Roger Manins on tenor saxophone, Mike Booth, trumpet and flugelhorn, Olivier Holland on bass, Cameron Sangster drums, with guest guitarist Neil Watson. As we have come to expect from Broadhurst’s work the album is thoughtful and elegant, an exploration of influences past and present. As he points out in the liner notes these influences are often unconscious at the time of composition- and sometimes only pointed out by other people after the fact.

The title track Panacea is dedicated to legendary guitarist Martin Winch (who passed away in 2011) with whom Broadhurst frequently worked. The name comes from the band that Broadhurst and Winch co-led in the 1970s. As is fitting the track is imbued with fusion vibes, and almost ’70s style horn lines, which are twisted slightly by a minor intonation giving it a plaintive sound. Booth and Manins blend wonderfully here – as they do everywhere else on the album – and Holland and Sangster ably support Broadhurst in maintaining the groove. Neil Watson’s features, Inverted and Knee Lever (this title referring to an action on his pedal steel guitar), are wonderful showcases of his solo and ensemble work as he slips into this quintet effortlessly. Several other tracks aside from Panacea involve dedications, but of particular local significance is Absent Friends. This elegiac piece was dedicated to members of the NZ jazz community who have passed away in recent years, and is beautiful tribute to those many talents.

 
Aleisha Ward, NZ Musician
 

Hard to believe but pianist/composer Phil Broadhurst has been part of the New Zealand jazz scene for more than 40 years. And he has created a body of work in that period notable for its restrained and often effortless sounding elegance where he doesn't lose sight of swing or melody. In that regard he can seem conservative, but that would deny the subtlety of his work, evident here on the lovely ballad Wheeler of Fortune (dedicated to the late trumpeter Kenny Wheeler), the slightly melancholy and beautifully constructed Absent Friends (with an appropriately reflective tenor solo by Roger Manins) and the short solo reprise of the piece Japanese Shadows at the end. Adding extra texture and colour on two pieces is guitarist Neil Watson whose lap steel takes Inverted into a more woozy space.
 
Graham Reid, Elsewhere
 

As the first recipient of the RMNZ award for services to jazz, and three-time winner of jazz album of the year, pianist and composer Phil Broadhurst is one of this country’s greatest jazz ambassadors - along with Rodger Fox.
 
On his latest album Panacea it is the third instalment in what he loosely describes as his ‘Dedication Trilogy’. Certainly over the years, Broadhurst has paid respect to names and influences including Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock. On Panacea he also includes a few obvious influences as the track (and of my favs here) Wheeler of Fortune (for the late Kenny Wheeler) and the shuffling rhythm that defines Precious Metal (for Horace Silver).
 
Huge respect is also given to the late New Zealand guitarist and jazz fusion exponent Martin Winch on the title track. On Japanese Shadows the focus is on Oliver Holland’s bass and the beautiful piano from Broadhurst. Late night tones evoke a warm feel on the wonderfully stated Inverted which includes aching lap steel. The album begins with Drive where a searching piano and bass riff lays down the foundation for the saxophone and trumpet to later engage in rich solos.
 
The track Pukeko is a very fine ballad with a gorgeous piano melody. And while Ludovic de Preissac is pure celebration For Absent Friends dominated early on by sprightly saxophone evokes the sound of the late great Michael Brecker The album closes with a solo piano rendition of Japanese Shadows which is beautiful. Cool and thoughtful arrangements fuel a most engaging and warm sounding album.