Artist: Blake Wilner

Date of Release: 04/06/2006

Catalogue no: 875

Label: Ant Jazz

Price: £9.95

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Track Listing







Drunken Romance




Mo Mo








Stormy Friday




In The City




Dangerous Mind








Cafe Rouge




The Prayer






Interloper features Blake Wilner on guitar, Brandon Allen on sax, Oli Hayhurst on bass and Chris Hutchings on drum. The quartet will be touring to promote the album throughout 2007, so check back for dates...




22/06/2006 Noel Mengel

Courier Mail

Blake Wilner Quartet
Ant Jazz * * * *
JAZZ not dead yet shock. There is plenty of evidence of that from a bunch of young lions around the country.
Among them the Blake Wilner Quartet, from Perth, currently whipping up interest in the UK, where guitarist Wilner and saxophonist Brandon Allen now reside. And they aren't doing it by simply going over familiar ground or making polite dinner music. Wilner and Allen are edgy, restless, their rhythm section up for every twist the soloists can throw at them.
The quartet can be as tranquil as a calm sea or just as ready to explode into a storm, as they do when Wilner's jagged lines thrust up against Allen's bubbling sax on the accurately titled Dangerous Mind.
But they know how to deploy these dynamics to arrive at an individual sound, whether on sweet mysteries such as In the City, or tunes like Stormy Friday, which begins with an elegant movement and gradually builds the power via Wilner's sinewy interjections, Allen's questing inventiveness and thrilling rhythmic interplay.
The BWQ are touring Australia and play Brisbane Jazz Club, Kangaroo Point, July 8; www.brisbanejazzclub.com.au


05/06/2006 24dash.com Ian Mann

This is the fourth album by the Australian guitarist and his quartet. Originally from Perth, Western Australia, Wilner is now resident in the UK but spent time in New York City en route. He is joined on this album by fellow Aussie ex-pat Brandon Allen on saxophone and by a British rhythm section consisting of bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Chris Hutchings.

The album features nine original compositions by Wilner. He is a powerful and highly individual writer. Many of the tunes feature rock elements but never descend into the clichés of fusion and a well-balanced programme engages the listener throughout.

The emphasis is very much on the compositions and the overall group sound. Wilner has a distinctive voice on the guitar and is very much his own man. He avoids the trap of copying more famous players like McLaughlin or Metheny.

Allen's saxophone is rooted in R & B and rock and he too avoids the obvious jazz clichés. On many tracks he and Wilner share the melody line and there are also a number of lightning unison passages and riffs throughout the album. The combination of instruments makes for a powerful, distinctive and very effective front line. There are of course solos by both musicians but these are always pertinent to the composition and never ostentatious for their own sake. Wilner and Allen are supported brilliantly by the lithe, muscular bass of Hayhurst and the crisp, energetic, rock influenced drumming of Hutchings.

The album opens with "Drunken Romance" featuring Allen's sax over Wilner's undulating chords and Hutching' chattering snare. An atmospheric piece, but not an obvious album opener. Hayhurst's bass and Wilner's jagged chords introduce the riff based "Mo Mo". This is far more accessible and now the album really begins to hit its stride. The twisting, darting title track is better still and features Wilner's ringing guitar.

"Stormy Friday" begins quietly (the calm before, perhaps) before rising in intensity with insistent, driving drumming from Hutchings, then fading to a quiet finish. It is an excellent example of building and releasing tension within a composition. The brooding "In The City" is as close as the album gets to an orthodox jazz ballad but its numerous twists and turns take it far beyond these limits.

"Dangerous Mind" features a killer riff that a heavy metal band would be proud of but expands brilliantly on this with every band member making a memorable contribution. Allen's bellicose saxophone combines with Wilner's clanging guitar and the pair are driven on by Hayhurst's nimble electric bass and Hutchings' dynamic drumming.

The brief "Deconstruction" calms things down and is almost meditative in comparison. "Café Rouge" provides a melodic acoustic bass solo from Hayhurst and is also a feature for Allen's probing saxophone.

The atmospheric "Prayer" brings the album to a quiet close with its keening saxophone, spacey guitar and shimmering cymbals all anchored by Hayhurst's resonant bass.

This is an excellent album of distinctive compositions played with great élan by a highly competent young band. At times the guitar/sax front line and the rock influences remind me of The Partisans and Wilner's compositions sometimes recall those of Theo Travis who also readily uses rock elements in his tunes and is happy to acknowledge the fact.

I suspect that like Travis, Wilner grew up listening to rock and progressed on to jazz at a later stage in his musical development.

I rate the Partisans and Theo Travis very highly so these comparisons should be seen as a compliment. However, Wilner is nobodys clone and this is excellent material in its own right. Highly recommended to both jazz fans and to adventurous rock listeners who should find plenty to enjoy here.


20/04/2006 All About Jazz - Chris May

At the risk of being guilty of national stereotyping, I have to say that London-based Australian expat Blake Wilner's guitar playing reminds me of Russell Crowe. Wilner may or may not enjoy pitching mobile phones at hotel receptionists, or rounding off an evening's drinking with an invigorating bar room brawl, but he brings the same lurching Wild West unpredictability to his music as his thespian compatriot does to a night on the town.

Bring it on. Interloper punches the lights out and announces Wilner's certain arrival in the major league. All the elements that have distinguished his previous three albums—slow-drag rock and funk motor rhythms, interactive tenor sax/guitar improvisations, fractured bass/drum ostinatos, high contrast dynamics, shifting tempos, an embrace of pause and silence, and lyrical post bop toplines—are again present, but the mixture is more fully and effectively realised than before. It's dangerous, exciting, individual and delightful.

And this time round, Wilner's band members all play like motherfuckers, too. The biggest and best news is the return of saxophonist Brandon Allen, a fellow Australian expat and collaborator of Wilner's since the early days of the quartet in Perth (both musicians left for London around the same time, but life temporarily took them in different directions). Allen's lusty playing—which mixes free, funk, jam band, Stax and straightahead just like Wilner's, and is also as gorgeously and messily lyrical—is a major ingredient in the album's success.

Bass player Oli Hayhurst, a founding member of Gilad Atzmon's Orient House ensemble, returns from 2004's The Reprieve, but teamed this time with Chris Hutchings, a drummer of comparable wit and propulsive power, who's been playing with Wilner on and off since 2001. It's a bad-ass band with brains.

Wilner's writing hits a new peak too. Faux fumbling on the opening “Drunken Romance,” meditative on the closing “The Prayer,” and tempestuous and passionate in between—”Interloper,” “Stormy Monday,” “In The City” and “Dangerous Mind” do just what they promise on the can. Forward motion, melodic invention, back-line soul, and big architecture are constant.

The Blake Wilner Quartet tours Australia in June/July and the UK in November/December.


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