It's no exaggeration to describe Albert 'Albare' Dadon as one of Australian jazz's most influential figures. In addition to his considerable musical accomplishments (spearheading Australian acid-jazz, chart-topping success throughout the mid-'90s), his work as a philanthropist and administrator accounts for some of Australian jazz's most crucial initiatives.
“Albare has been writing music ever since I met him back in the early-90's,” reflects longterm friend and collaborator Evripides Evripidou – the bassist having contributed to four of Albare's six albums to date. “He's obviously had a lot of success; even in the mainstream pop charts, which is quite rare for a jazz musician. Really, though, I just think he has a really beautiful approach to music. It's very original but very jazzy at the same time. I've always loved working with him.”
His latest band International Travel Diary arrives with a surfeit of similarly prestigious pedigrees. Evripidou is a journeyman musician, producer and lecturer; lecturing at Victoria's College of the Arts and performing alongside legendary artists like James Morrison. Drummer Antonio Sanchez can boast three Grammy awards; saxophonist George Garzone has worked with Jack DeJohnette and lectures at Berklee.
“This is what I've found from living life – sometimes you have challenges or obstacles that you have to overcome and sometimes you're on a journey that's a part of your destiny and things really do just work out a lot more effortlessly,” Evripidou laughs of assembling the line-up. “When Albare discussed who we should get on our tunes, we pinpointed a couple of players and, well, everything was just a yes. It would seem that, sometimes, things really do just sort of work out!
“I think, especially in jazz, great musicians will always leave their stamp on a song. In the pop world, musicians might make a suggestion here or there but, with jazz – well, one of jazz's literal definitions is 'freedom'. I think, when Albare and I started to assemble our band, we really got to see our music kind of bloom and unfold. I mean, these are some of the best jazz musicians in the world. It has just been unbelievable.”
So, when Evripidou describes Albare & International Travel Diary's debut album Long Way as an artistic breakthrough, he is not simply spruiking. It is actually a significant work. Recorded in New York and released through Enja Records, Long Way fuses together strands of complex jazz musicianship, gorgeous lyrical melody and expanded worldly eclecticism.
“Albare and I started writing about five, six months ago – basic melodies, sketches and ideas – and we just became so excited by what was coming out of our little jams,” Evripidou recalls. “Everything just fell into place. As we kind of worked on grooves and arrangements and pre-production, it was almost like the melodies had so much life in them that we couldn't contain them. When it came to finishing the record, it just felt effortless. It was a joy to work on it and I think you can hear that.
“It does feel like another level,” the bassist reiterates – excited. “When Albare and I play together, we're always looking for a specific voice; a kind of strong melodic foundation with a really strong rhythmic backdrop. You could call it smooth jazz, funky jazz or acid-jazz or whatever. I don't even know. The intention with Long Way was to make something that wasn't just your typical, pigeonhole-friendly jazz album. I'd like to think it could appeal to anyone.”