New Zealand-born double bassist Jonathan Zwartz left this country for Australia in the early ’80s, studied in the US while playing alongside the likes of Rufus Reid, and returned to Sydney a couple of decades ago.
He can tick off playing with Pharoah Sanders, Branford Marsalis, the Laine-Dankworth ensemble, most of the jazz illuminati of Australia (Bernie McGann, James Morrison, Vince Jones) and many more besides.
It is noted he has taken 20 years to do an album under his own name, and the Bondi Beach dweller appropriately entitles it The Sea because there is an ebb and flow to his eight compositions which swell up with soft Latin shuffles, retreat with some beautiful sounds close to classic Miles Davis of the ’50s, and elsewhere has a kind of intelligent and atmospheric ambient quality, much as you might enjoy on a late summer afternoon watching the waves roll in.
The sessions – which Zwartz also produced – were recorded live and quiet in the studio, and there is an undeniable warmth to the result.
The piece Chester conjures up the spirit of Davis and the most romantic of ECM atmospherics in the breathy work by Slater while beneath pianist McAll offers gentle currents and lightly percussive comping before embarking on a spare and romantic solo.
Traveling Song has a light blues’n’swing touch; Hummingbird gets the cool Brazilian beats working over DeVries’ bossa guitar groove and Zwartz’s firm bass before shifting up a notch; and Musica Para Meu Pai is for when the
sun is setting on a still sea, light jazz
but not jazz-lite.