This third album from award-winning Brisbane-based saxophonist Rafael Karlen with pianist Steve Newcomb adds guitarist Toby Wren for an intimate trio project. Five of the 10 tracks are Karlen originals and there are traditional pieces, plus compositions by Wren and Newcomb.
Karlen says he doesn’t see much difference in using a piece by Schubert or playing a tune from the Great American Songbook. That idea is demonstrated by including an arrangement of Schubert’s Serenade where the classical-sounding guitar intro prefaces the arrival of Karlen’s laconic sax, soon to improvise melodically on Schubert’s classic composition as piano and guitar lay out a gentle accompaniment.
Ten Ten, a composition by Wren, has a relaxed, bluesy feel. Newcomb’s composition Driftwood features some fine piano accompaniment for Karlen’s tranquilly floating sax, while Wren’s guitar solo reaches into the upper register as the piece moves serenely along. The religious folk song Kyrie is treated reverently and fits well into the album’s moody atmosphere.
This is a collection of rhythmless, colourful interpretations in unhurried settings where peaceful interplay between sax, guitar and piano is explored with ability and sensitivity.
John McBeath (January 21, 2017)