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Australian artist Ross Prior sheds metal roots for engaging jazz on new album
(Published: December 18, 2014)

The title of track number one of Ross Prior's Heavy Sheddin' is a concise blurb of itself - "Arabian Blues." Certainly middle-of-the-spectrum jazz, it features bluesy saxophone and guitar melodies that revolve around double harmonic scales, also known as the Arabic mode. A eureka moment. This opener's carrier tunes are smoothly set on a backdrop of rockabilly bass lines and drum beats with a touch of subtly sharp angular rhythm guitar.

The sinister-sounding "Conversations" plays next seamlessly; it's a piece that would not be out of place in the soundtrack of a James Bond movie. It dips in that sexy 6/8 time signature, interrupted only by shots on 5/8 in between transitions, just enough to let the listener swim above the surface to breathe and relax. This particular track is a head bobber and a finger snapper all the way.

A sunshiny, scatting jazz pop, "You Didn't Mean That" has a tropical-island reggae feel. No need for further ado with that. Slow jazz enthusiasts will surely love "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," the sound of a stereotypical jazz ballad whose star is the sexy and slinky-scaling saxophone. It will make the listener either sway or swoon in sweet surrender. But now, picture this: Sweaty summer weekend evening at a packed jazz bar in 1950s-era Naples. That is the sound of "Caravan," which would fit well on a setlist that includes the canzone napoletana "Tu vuò fà l'americano" by the Italian artist Renato Carosone. And this was my instant favorite, and could be yours, too.

A reprise of the album opener wraps up Prior's first full-length, only this time with a female singer. The only non-instrumental track in the album, it just proves that the piece, whether instrumental or with vocals, remains effective and engaging.

After researching about the Australian musician Ross Prior, I learned that his musical nest resided on metal. And mind you, not a soft kind of metal, but rather, the aggressive types; he played bass for the thrash/death metal band Black Mask. That's why his jazz dabbling may seem baffling, especially to the uninitiated. But on second thoughts, it should be easy to figure out that only one letter differentiates "heavy shreddin'" from Heavy Sheddin' anyway. Besides, it should be unsurprising because, musically, jazz and metal both feed on virtuosity.

In Heavy Sheddin', Ross Prior on double bass is joined by Andrew Fincher on guitar, Blair Westbrook on drums, and Andrew Garton on saxophone.

More Information: http://https://rosspriormusic.wordpress.com

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