Jeremy Rose

Project Infinity: Live at Phoenix Central Park


Listen closely, and you can hear the sound of the room where this music was made. Even through the thickets of electronics and expert post-production, you can still sense the space that made the different sounds sing as one: Chippendale’s Phoenix Central Park, a venue with an interior akin to an ant’s nest and acoustics close to heaven.

One could say that composer/saxophonist Jeremy Rose wears many hats, given his array of projects, including the groovy Vampires and the cross-cultural Vazesh. But really it’s the same hat covering a questing mind that enjoys placing his improvisatory skills in wildly different contexts. One could also say that Project Infinity, being a free-improvising quartet, doesn’t really lean on his composing flair, except that this would miss the extemporaneous composing that’s happening at every moment in free improvisation, as the performers’ ears and intuitions lend shape to spontaneity.

Rose is joined by Novak Manojlovic (piano, keyboard), Tully Ryan (drums) and Ben Carey (modular synthesizer), players with imaginations to match his own, who instantly intuit when to place their instruments in the music’s foreground, and when to pull them back to a supportive role.

Listen to them do this on the spooky A Shape of Thought, which sounds like music that nervous ghosts might make. In fact, edginess is something of an album throughline, with Ryan overlaying grooves that are as jittery as they are compelling. Even when the drums fade to rubato washes in Excess of Access, you still feel the tension of when they’ll reassert themselves, and meanwhile are enthralled by Rose’s bass clarinet mourning over an otherworldly soundscape.

Despite having titles, the pieces are really all part of an extended improvisation incorporating such organic changes of mood as to allow Rose to christen them separately. Symptoms of Our Age

has his soprano crying over a dystopian maze of piano, drums and electronics. Perturbation begins with a heartbeat that’s suffering severe arrhythmia, but it is when this settles that the music becomes really scary, with Rose’s soprano squealing in an asylum of sounds that only the brave should listen to in the dark, culminating in Manojlovic’s breaking-glass piano.

Iterative Semiotics is about as close to reassuring as the music gets, which means it’s still disquieting, although with a sense of humour now lightly tugging at its edges. You need this respite, because Heuristics would cast you adrift in a gravity-free zone once more, were the intensity of the four-way dialogue not riveting you to the spot. Finally, Memory and Sex ends the trance, and sends you back out into the world reprogrammed – in a good way.

Simultaneously with this album, Rose’s Earshift label has released three others offering a wondrously diverse cross-section of Oz jazz artistry. There’s rambunctiousness from Phillip Johnston and the Greasy Chicken Orchestra, reimagined Bach from luminous singer Michelle Nicole and beauty blended with visceral excitement from Underwards.