Dark Garden

Dark Garden

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Released 2001

Dark Garden, that part of the backyard that is overgrown, the shady corner where one seldom goes. There is plenty of life there; it just seems to be mangled into its own weedy chaos, not willing to let anyone in.

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  1. 1 Shadow Dancing 10:09
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  2. 2 Nursery Crimes 15:39
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  3. 3 This Time I Can't Say 06:52
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  4. 4 Where We're With You 06:49
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  5. 5 Lullaby For Deb 04:36
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Reviews

Drum Media - Blow

THE JAVA QUARTET are actually one of the most well recorded bands in Australian jazz. Which you will discern is no bad thing when listening to their latest effort, DARK GARDEN (EMI / ABC) an album (sic) that really is redolent of those quiet, mysterious places in the memory and in the heart.

Pensive without being maudlin, brooding, masculine and sensual all at the same time, there's elegance in spades on this baby, but so is there a preponderance of welcome directness.

Craig N. Pearce


Dark Garden and Passages review from the Penguin guide to Jazz

Quigley and Galeazzi are the main writers, leaving Maegraith's Coltrane-instpired tenor to go aloft over Coffin's funky piano licks. That puts it simply, but it's a formula which they vary and occasionally depart from to engaging effect across the two CDs. Several of the tunes on Passages revolve around a single idea, such as the bass figure of 'Blue Sky Mind', and the group skilfully knows when to quit on each track (aside, maybe, from the lengthy 'Life-time Dreaming' and 'Una-Med' - Coffin and Maegraith are more likely to hit bullseye on brief solos). Dark Garden takes a more leisurely course, although the tracks number only five and the record is commendably fat-free. The disc is meant as a meditiation on memory and it's effects, and perhaps it's appropriate that it has the quality of sketchwork, even if there are some bold strokes along the way. It could use a big tune.

Richard Cook and Brian Morton


Dark Garden review in the Australian
Sat 24th of Feb 2001

Restraint is usually considered to be a worthy quality in music, but, for various reasons, is not always adhered to in practice. An admirable amount, though, can be found on "Dark Garden", the Java Quartet's fourth CD and their second with the current line-up. Led by bassist Michael Galeazzi [also a member of Karma County], the Java Quartet's sound typically involves simple bass vamps under melodies that gently unfold into rollicking climaxes. This time, the quartet creates intensity without excess, maximising the use of space and implied sounds. This is particularly evident in what drummer Mike Quigley plays or, more precisely, what he doesn't play -- indeed, such subtle contributions could never be accused of bravado. Saxophonist Richard Maegraith, who seems to have escaped the spectre of Jan Garbarek, boasts beautiful, haunting harmonies, and treads lightly and unexpectantly over the tunes. He is complemented by the dense harmonic approach of pianist Greg Coffin, whose climaxes involve intricate two-handed counter melodies rather than heavy chordal attacks. "Dark Garden" is a welcome release from this Sydney-based quartet, which has weaved a mature, understated package that will reward close attention.

Ashleigh Wilson




The Sunday Herald Sun
- 4th March 2001

It is terrific to hear the Sydney jazz scene represented by a fine album created by musicians whose names are less familiar than the talented crew that record songs regularly for the Rufus label.

The Java Quartet - Richard Maegrith (saxophone), Greg coffin (piano), Michael Galeazzi (Bass) and Mike Quigley (drums) - produces unfussy, unhurried music draped around sparse yet eloquent tunes.

On "Dark Garden", first is best. "Shadow Dancing" is a lilting, achingly pretty tune worth every second of its 10 minutes, Coffin's solo building up the heat before Meagraith steps in with a cooling breeze.

All of this is underpinned by the sweetly dancing bass of Geleazzi, the tune's composer.

Take two, "Nursery Crimes:, brings a contrast in mood with its bass motif creating a sense of foreboding that veers close to making its 15 minutes a tad too lengthy.

Another three tunes, of more modest duration, are no less full of restrained beauty.

Worth many listens - it may take that long to fully appreciate Quigley's deft, oh-so-subtle cymbal work.

Kenny Weir

ABC Jazz

This Sydney quartet presents a seamless ensemble sound, in which the melodies seem to merge into the solos played by pianist Greg Coffin and Richard Maegraith on tenor saxophone. The five tracks here feature attractive, contemplative melodies. Like the band's pulse, they are provided by bassist Michael Galeazzi (otherwise known as a member of pop band Karma County) and drummer Michael Quigley. The Javas like to develop their perormances at length, in no particular hurry. On the fifteen minute long Nursery Crimes, the result could be hypnotic or tedious, depending on on your mood, but it does boast Coffin's and Maegraith's strongest solos of the set.

Adrian Jackson


Reviews

The Age Green Guide - 10th May 2001

The Sydney quartet explores time and space in this collection of peices from its rhythm section in bassit Michael Galeazzi and drummer Mike Quigley. Not exactly mind-blowing, not the kind of stuff that feels like you've stuck your toe in a light socket. It's more subtle than that. Lots of shades and nuances in this corner or the garden and it has mysterious power, when it works. The answer lies in the sparseness and the way it eschews look-at-me pyrotechnics. Instead, the focus is on disarmingly simple repeating melodoc themes. It's also about creating a series of dynamic tensions which, at their best are hypnotic and captivating. A good example is the track nursery crimes, in which the doubling lines of Richard Meagraith on tenor sax and Greg Coffin's chiming piano sings across the constant beat of a repeating bass line. But there are limits. At nearly 16 minutes long, this track leaves you wondering where it's all heading. Nevertheless, the attraction throughout this release lies in those tensions and the way things hold together.

Leon Gettler



Time Off - 4th April 2001

One of the highlights of this year's Pinnacales line-up it the appearence of The Java Quartet, possibly one of the nations most underrated Jazz ensembles.

Formed by bassit Michael Galeazzi (of Karma County fame) in 1994 as a vehicle for his own compositions. It's no wonder they've been snapped up by the ABC record label with huge results.

"I just did a musical back in Melbourne called Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom", Michael Galeazzi recalls. "I saved up some money and thought 'I'm going into the studio to put down some of my tunes' and that was an EP, but now we're three albums later."

Despite a few line-up changes, the Java Quartet sound is as strong as it has ever been since they showcased their abilities at the renowned Montreux Jazz Festival in 1997.

"Since the first EP, there was a line-up change to the rhythm section that we have now. So basically the group's been together for six years, except two albums ago we had a different horn player. Now we've got Richard Maegraith on the last two albums so, you know, we're a jazz band, [but] I treat it like an indie rock band.

"In the jazz scene, you're got a lot of transient players and things like that. That doesn't happen with this group; if all the players can't make it, then we don't do the gig."

Dark Garden is the new album written by both Galeazzi and drummer Mike Quigley. Based on thoughts of memory, the release is a moody, heartfelt journey through that dark, weedy part of the garden where no-one usually dares to go.

"Dark Garden, it's dealing with memory", Galeazzi explains. "Because that's the dark garden, that's the part of the brain, that funny, weedy part of the backyard you don't always venture into.

"What preoccupied me was the idea of we have memory. Ever since we were born, we've got images going though our eyes and interpreted by our brain. It all must be there because it's going through our head, but we can only remember some things and not others. So this whole idea of selective memory, why are we allowed one memory, but not other memory? Why does our body allow us to remember things and not others. And that was sort of like the theme."

"And a theme of loss as well because I mean I know Michael - 'Where We're With You', that tune - was dedicated to a friend of his that died and same with 'Lullaby For Deb', the last track of mine, is dedicated to a dear friend that died.

"And so you know, it's the idea of memory, a little bit of loss and that's why it's [the album] almost a touch ambient."

Peta Hayes




Metro Album Of The Week - July 6-12 2001

If the Java Quartet continues to improve at this rate, world domination beckons. For those familiar with Karma County, this is what bassist Michael Galeazzi does in his spare time. It's a style of jazz that is more about mood than groove, the compositions setting up contexts in which the four members can collectively build a simple idea into a major opus. This would be deadly dull if it amounted to nothing more than swapped solos and a preoccupation with making clever music, rather than painting pictures or telling stories. But this band - completed by drummer/composer Mike Quigley, saxophonist Richard Maegraith and pianist Greg Coffin - works hard at playing the pieces rather than playing their instruments, if you follow my drift. The richness and vibrancy of the sounds stops the often solemn music becoming morose. On Nursery Crimes Galeazzi sits on a slow riff which first Maegraith and then Coffin decorate sparsely before turning those decorations into sustained evocations of a mood of quiet menace. The more sprightly This Time I Can't Say apart, that quiet menace comes close to summing up the album as a whole.

John Shand