A superb cross section of Melbourne's jazz-centric underground...

What do you do when you don’t have a scene? You create your own. This is exactly what has happened in Melbourne. Historically Melbourne wasn’t a jazz town and didn’t have a scene, or traditions associated to it, so a bunch of young, and hungry, musicians living in shared houses and using home studios went DIY and started creating their idea of what jazz should be in. The results are a glorious hybrid of spiritual meditations, up-tempo fusions incorporating club culture, breakneck piano workouts and laid-back vibes.

At its heart ‘Sunny Side Up’ is showcasing, and focusing, on two crews of musicians 30/70 Collective and Mandarin Dreams, but instead of creating a bitter rivalry they’re all mates who just love playing together and this comes across in the music. The album was recorded over a week at The Grove, a pivotal hub in Melbourne’s vibrant underground scene and was engineered by Nick Herra, of Hiatus Kaiyote and 30/70, with Silentjay acting as musical director. Many of the musicians guest on each other\s tracks. This gives the album a sense of cohesion and uniformity, even if the music they play is contrasting.

Most notably on two of the standout tracks on the album. Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange ‘Powers 2 (The People)’ and Kuzich ‘There is No Time’. ‘Powers 2 (The People)’ has the energy and passion of Thundercat but never sounds like a pastiche. Its bouncy basslines are infectious and the delirious breakbeats are taut and devastating. ‘There is No Time’ has brooding Taxi Driver motifs to it but it’s the laconic horns with stumble/stop basslines that make this a hypnotic and mesmeric blend of hip-hop and cool jazz. While these songs come from different disciplines of the jazz spectrum, there is running thread of freedom, and having a blast, that permeates them and the album. Everyone is pulling together for a greater goal, rather than focusing on individual wants and needs.

The main takeaway from ‘Sunny Side Up’ has more to do with what can be achieved in isolation than about the music. It shows that if you have an idea, or sound, in your head and enough people interested in the same ideals anything is possible. And this is as refreshing as the music contained on the album itself.

7/10

Words: Nick Roseblade

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