The Keijzer McGuiness Quintet - The Seed Habit

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 Dutchman Remco Keijzer and Australian Lucian McGuiness normally reside hemispheres apart, but they brave long haul flights and carry-on restrictions to join musical forces whenever possible. In 2009 they launch the album The Seed Habit on Rufus Records. The disc is the product of three years collaboration in Australia and The Netherlands, and was recorded in Sydney in 2008.

Jazz is transitory. It twists, turns, strikes and moves on – just like the Keijzer McGuiness Quintet, and the music on their infectiously toe-tapping début release. A tenor and trombone combination like Keijzer & McGuiness is hard to beat - a sleek, humanistic sound curls up inside your ear and expands your mind.

Among the best young players in their hometowns, Keijzer-McGuiness gigs soar melodically, with gutsy engagement between personnel; a spectrum of youthful energy, soul, breadth and vigour.

This album delivers the key contribution of the jazz tradition: great playing to make your toe tap and your head bounce. Better still, it doesn't fall into the trap of over-seriousness. Sounds like fun.

Remco studied jazz and improvisation at The Hilversums Conservatory, The Conservatory of Amsterdam and The Manhattan School of Music. He’s played with luminaries Dick Oatts, Dave Binney and the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, inspired a contemporary big band for emerging composers and added soulful sax to a popular live hip hop act sans samples.

Lucian McGuiness (trombone)
Lucian studied in Canberra, Amsterdam and Sydney. He plays with the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra and Ben Walsh’s Crusty Suitcase Band, and has performed or recorded with a wide variety of artists including Jim McNeely, Shasha Marley, The Herd, The Holland Big Band and Steve Hunter.

Matt McMahon (rhodes/piano)
Matt leads his own groups and co-leads Band of Five Names with Phil Slater and Simon Barker. He won the National Jazz Award, and the Freedman Jazz Fellowship, and has played and recorded with Dale Barlow, Greg Osby, Katie Noonan, Vince Jones, Bobby Previte, Dave Panichi and Steve Hunter.

Mike Majkowski (double bass)
Mike is one of the new breed of creative musicians emerging on Australia's music scene. A gifted jazz bassist committed to a wide spectrum of contemporary music: he’s a founding member of the large-scale Sydney-based electro-acoustic group The Splinter Orchestra; a member of The Now Now collective, and works closely with some of Australia's most highly regarded improvisers - Jon Rose, Chris Abrahams and Jim Denley.

James Hauptmann (drums)
James grew up in Canberra and studied at the Canberra School of Music. Living in Sydney, he records and tours nationally and internationally in bands including Mark Isaacs, Steve Hunter, Exposed Bone, Blue Juice and Elana Stone.

‘It’s accessible, readily enjoyable jazz.’

Adrian Jackson Rhythms

Members of this quintet are Remco Keijzer, tenor saxophone, Lucian McGuiness, trombone, Matt McMahon, Fender Rhodes piano, Mike Majkowski, bass and James Hauptmann, drums. Between them, they have performed with an impressive array of musicians. They have toured as a group and the two horn players have been collaborating for some time both in Holland and Australia. There is little wonder that the intelligent original music on the CD is played very competently with conviction and poise.

Upon first hearing the opening tune, Pigis, I thought the use of Fender Rhodes piano to be an eccentric affectation. The instrument has always made a brittle sound when driven hard, as it is in this track. Then came Get Out in which it is not possible to imagine any other sort of keyboard instrument producing a more suitable effect than that obtained from the tines and rubber--tipped hammers of the Rhodes. Thus, within the space of two tracks my feelings about the type of piano used ranged across a broad spectrum. By the fifth selection, Small Pictures, I was won over. Ballade Conservatoire reinforced my conversion.

In Pigis, Keijzer has a disturbing tendency to anticipate the entry of melody notes, thus making the intended unison playing of the melody a bit sloppy. This is an earnest composition, played in rigid march--like manner, an effect that is reinforced throughout by the rhythm section playing strictly on the beat. The horns become quite impassioned in their brief ensemble improvistion, but overall I thought this was a strange choice for an album opener by a jazz group.

Get Out opens with an uneasy sense of disagreement between the horns against a rhythm that sounds as if it is injured and limping. This is resolved in a mellifluous harmonized segment, then trombone and bass each solo over a rhythm with a strong sense of five. The activity dies down and fades to a pause, after which the horns resume to restate their initial material.

GC for CP begins with unaccompanied horns followed by an odd sort of angular melody over a rock riff. After a distinctively Rhodes improvisation, the trombonist and the drummer solo and then the selection concludes as it began. It forms a very suitable centrepiece for the album.

The final track is a jaunty reggae number entitled Natte Worteltjes. Its alternating tightly arranged ensembles and more free--wheeling trombone and saxophone solos draw the recording to a satisfying conclusion.

My compliments to the graphic designers, Robert Guerin and Cheryl Orsini for their work on the cover art. Their attractive images somehow reflect the musical contents of the CD, even though I could not fully articulate why that is so. Perhaps a better understanding of Dutch language and culture would help. In past reviews I have been critical of drab cover art. I hope that more jazz artists and record companies invest resources in this aspect of production in future. Overall, The Seed Habit is a collection of very fine contemporary jazz that is certain to please all who are serious about knowing to where the music has progressed.
Gavin Franklin  Music Forum

The Keijzer McGuiness Quintet takes its name from a combination of Dutchman Remco Keijzer (tenor saxophone) and Australian Lucian McGuiness (trombone). In addition to Keijzer and McGuiness, the quintet consists of Matt McMahon (rhodes/piano), Mike Majkowski (bass) and James Hauptmann (drums). The Seed Habit is the quintet’s first release. The tracks, all originals, were composed by Keijzer and McGuiness, who collaborated over three years and two countries to write the songs.
There is something very special about transatlantic collaboration - it brings with it all the trials of composing and working in isolation and all the joys that come when all parties meet to bring life to those compositions. Knowing that the connection is fleeting brings a certain poignancy to the way in which the songs are interpreted; the compositions have at their core, a certain wistfulness or nostalgia.
The title of the album takes its name from a biological process concerning the life-cycle of seeds and plant reproduction. It is within that context that the album came to be. Remco Keijzer and Lucian McGuiness planted the seed of an idea in a little café, the Vlinder, in the middle of Amsterdam. That seed unfolded and grew to become The Seed Habit.
As co-leaders of the quintet, McGuiness and Keijzer work incredibly well together, playing the compelling, often insistent heads of each song in tight unison. McGuiness’ trombone provides a breathless texture to the supporting saxophone which weaves about over and under the melody….
McMahon’s understated rhodes is a delight - his solo break on ‘Apple S’ for example. At times the rhodes takes on the role of guitar, a slightly distorted sound behind the moving themes of McGuiness and Keijzer. He uses space to explore the melodic possibilities before ceding way to Keijzer’s saxophone. ‘Apple S’ is a good example of the balance the quintet has - musically there are no definite leaders, each musician working together, enjoying the fleeting moment…
Featuring beautiful cover art by Robèrt Guérain and memorable compositions, The Seed Habit is an outstanding debut from a band destined for great things, providing they can manage the tyranny of distance. The compositions have a maturity to them that belie the musician’s years and the tonal qualities and the band’s sound is contemporary and refreshing.
Charles Lidgard extempore  website

‘This quintet comprises four high-standard Sydney musicians and talented Amsterdam-based tenor saxophonist Remco Keijzer. The group completed a national tour promoting the CD in March, funded by the Sound Travellers project. The tracks are all original by front-line members Keijzer and trombonist Lucian McGuiness, who collaborated over three years to write the songs. The compositions are varied, accessibly contemporary rather than avant-garde, and are driven by a great rhythm section of pianist Matt McMahon, drummer James Hauptmann and bassist Mike Majkowski. The tenor and trombone work very well together, and Keijzer blows some fine solos, especially on Small Pictures, where he accelerates into the high register to build climactic excitement nearly to breaking point. Pigis has trombone and tenor moving slowly in unison against a driving solid four, almost -- but not quite – a marching beat. Impressive counterpoint develops between the two horns, while at times the trombone also holds pedal notes behind the tenor’s fast phrasing as the beat strides on. McGuiness’s trombone speaks up in a storming solo on Get Out and McMahon’s Fender Rhodes is supportive throughout, demonstrating his finely developed solo abilities on GC for CP.’ 
John McBeath Weekend Australian stars


SKU 9399033307929
Barcode # 9399033307929
Brand Australian Independent - Rufus Records

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