David Ades: A Life in a Day

David Ades, alto saxophone; Tony Malaby, tenor and soprano saxophones; Mark Helias, bass; Gerald Cleaver, drums
Lionsharecords LSD20153
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

You may have gathered that over the past couple of years a group of highly important Australian musicians have died. As they all played predominately in the area of jazz, the presumption might be made that drug overdoses or drunken falls from rooftops could have been involved Nothing of the sort. Two parallels might be mentioned. David Ades (pronounced Addes) and my son Mathew both died of cancer. Both played the alto saxophone. On different occasions I performed with both. Twice at the Opera House Studio.

David Ades

David Ades

Enough of that. This recording was made in New York in 2013 with highly regarded New Yorkers, listed above, with whom Dave had formed a close association. Dave’s father, incidentally, was a much loved New York street vendor whom I met in Sydney. At the time of this recording Dave was intermittently in great pain, and he had not played for some weeks before this session. He was also advised that he would be mad to fly to New York in his condition. The playing here is scarcely short of miraculous, even without this consideration.. Dave died shortly after receiving the finished product, with which he was well pleased.

Many of the tunes here are by Dave and some are by his American friends All are brilliantly and often elaborately developed per medium of both very free and very tight collective and solo improvisation. A couple of the tunes begin with a buoyant but medium slow theme in unison harmony, but breaking again and again into a dancing double time dance of free counter lines or even near formal counterpoint. On the two saxophones Sometimes they evoke or closely imitate a kind of folk jig or dervish. The combination of simultaneously textural and contrapuntal rhythmic play from the master drummer and bassist is compelling, defining space in which the saxophones move and creating an even momentum along changing paths – in short a spread of percussive figures flying both under and around the melody lines.

David Ades

It is all strong, bright, passionate and, particularly when Malaby moves from tenor to soprano sax, uplifting as the overall pitch lifts and the two high voices sing.

Dave himself produces a very bright, edged but unusually full alto sound, often running brilliantly and suddenly flying upward to a note like the whistle on a boiling kettle, but curving further skyward. It is often hair-raising, full of pressure and release.

Everybody is their self, musically, but they somehow put into the air the very wide ranging life – surfing in tropical Asia for instance – of one Dave Ades.

David Ades and Zack Hurren

David Ades and Zack Hurren

You may have recently heard a band paying tribute to and celebrating his art in various clubs in the capital cities. Saxophonists Julien Wilson and Zac Hurren picked up various local rhythm teams in the different cities. Here is David himself.

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