Orbiturtle is a Australian-Japanese collaboration between Sydney-based alto saxophonist Dave Jackson and pianist Steve Barry, and Japanese musicians drummer Ko Omura and bassist Yoshio Suzuki (former member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers).
Sakura was recorded in May 2014 in the crisp serenity of the Yamanakako woods near Mt Fuji, surrounded by the last blooms of the cherry blossom season.
Liner Notes by Mike Nock
This recording is the result of an agreement between Japanese drummer Ko Omura, Australian pianist Steve Barry and saxophonist Dave Jackson, to initiate a collaborative jazz project between both countries. Veteran Japanese bassist, Yoshio (Chin) Suzuki, well known for his support of younger musicians, was selected to be the fourth member of the ensemble. A bridging figure between generations, his long experience as leader of his own unit makes him the perfect anchorman for this group.
A truly democratic band, all four players have successfully merged their strong musical identities into the group dynamic, displaying great textural variety and thematic cohesion throughout. All four musicians share a deep knowledge and love for the jazz tradition, along with a conceptual curiosity and musical openness, which is strongly evident throughout this recording. Ko, Dave and Steve studied at Sydney Conservatorium of Music and have been developing their musical friendship and creative concepts for many years and have developed hugely as instrumentalists/composers since those early days. Its very encouraging to see them now staking their claims as leaders, both collectively and individually.
The quartet’s repertoire is full of interesting rhythmic and harmonic twists. Steve’s composition SAKURA, an energetic 5/4 groove, sets a high standard for what is to come. Ko’s three pieces include LONELY SPECS a lovely waltz and SO LONG, featuring solo piano before the main theme enters with an evocative minor third motif. There are two contrafacts from Dave, PIROUETTE and INTO STELLAR (no prizes for guessing this one) and four more well-crafted pieces from Steve, ending with CODAESQUE, a good-humoured bow to tradition.
This project came about from the commitment of these talented young musicians, whose passion and dedication to pursuing their chosen art form allows us to share their dream and is tangible evidence of the last decade’s increasing activity between the current generation of Japanese and Australian jazz musicians. I see this as a very welcome situation for both countries, with many positive results for musicians and fans alike.
Mike Nock, Sydney, Australia. Jan 2015.