6 December 2018
Jason Bruer's band is called Hammerhead and it's a driving hard bop outfit with three horns up front (tenor, alto, trumpet) and rhythm section. Mostly straightahead hard bop. At least one was more pensive, sustained, even relaxed, with circular breathing and another was a classical crossover in fugal form, the various instruments mirroring melody but displaced by time. But mostly it was honest, convincing, hard swinging, outgoing jazz. The horns up front were lovely, tuneful, together, energetic and interesting when they took their solos. The rhythm section was a blast, driving through at all times and happy to take their solos, too. Drummer Alex was the recent Wangaratta award winner for drums and got some regard for that. Very much jazz of the period and well deserved. Bassist Max is an old boy of the ANU and is playing a storm. Alone he could have anchored this band, so firmly swinging and fat sounding was he. His solos tended to slower and more thoughtful but they could let go, too. Gavin on piano was a pleasure, comping or headlining with power and energy. But energy was a feature all round. The horns were formidable together and intriguing apart. They changed just a little: alto to flute; tenor to soprano; trumpet to flugelhorn. All to be expected, but just a little surprising when it happened given it was none too common. But I particularly enjoyed Jason's soprano and Simon's flugel and the tone of flute fitted its more pensive context. But this was mostly a night of outright energy and exuberance and this band gave it. Two sets of five tunes then off for the drive back to Sydney. They nailed it.
Jason Bruer (tenor, soprano) led Hammerhead with Simon Ferenci (trumpet, flugelhorn), Andrew Robertson (alto, flute), Gavin Ahearn (piano), Max Alduca (bass) and Alex Hirlian (drums).