From time to time Scottish Jazz Space reaches out to our jazz sisters and brothers overseas. Today here is a review of Australian trio Berardi/Foran/Karlen, with special guest Luxembourg-based Pascal Schumacher : ‘Haven’.

Berardi/Foran/Karlen – Haven
(Earshift Music 2020)

In the midst of the present pandemic there is a welcome sense of respite when one comes across music which acts as an aural and emotional balm. This Brisbane-based trio achieves this effect in spades in their latest album Haven, which was recorded three years ago but is only being released this November 2020. Haven is a helpful reminder that times of tranquillity existed in the past and will do so again.

Band members vocalist Kristin Berardi, pianist Sean Foran and saxophonist Rafael Karlen have between them toured extensively, receiving wide recognition of their own respective projects. This writer recalls with pleasure a gig in early 2017 at The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, in which accomplished pianist Foran played mostly his own compositions as part of Australian nu-jazz trio, Trichotomy. (See Scottish Jazz Space’s review of this excellent gig for DooBeeDooBeeDoo New York.)

The Berardi/Foran/Karlen trio formed in 2014, their 2015 debut album ‘Hope In My Pocket’ quickly acquiring two major Australian music awards.

As regards this their follow-up album Haven, the Press release shares that, admiring his work, the band invited respected Luxembourg-based vibraphonist Pascal Schumacher to join them on an Australian tour in 2017. It was during this visit that the studio recording that became Haven came about. The trio’s already slightly unusual complement of instruments was thus made more unusual still, their trademark delicate nu jazz-folk-classical sound-webs rendered in the new album all the more ethereal by Schumacher’s contributions.

Though clearly comfortable improvising, the musicians take turns composing ten of the album’s eleven tunes, with only stand-out electronics-heavy penultimate track, Bush Fire Two being credited to all three.

Other stand-outs for this listener are Karlen’s Bush Fire Break, apparently inspired by a beautiful painting by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa (look it up!), Berardi’s melodious song with words No Shepherds Live Here and Foran’s improvised-sounding Rambling.

This listener would characterise the overall sound of Haven as soothing, classically-informed textural jazz, with touches of electronics contributing to the feeling of delicacy. Throughout, Schumacher’s exemplary vibes complement and segue well with the trio and particularly with Foran’s piano, while Karlen’s sensitive sax and Berardi’s vocalisations – which curiously repeatedly brought images of tree bark into this listener’s mind – have a particular affinity.

A final word of congratulation must also be offered to Sai Karlen (art work and design), Mark Smith (recording), Stefan Glaumann (mixing) and Shawn Joseph (mastering), whose valuable contributions are the cherry on this very appealing cake.

Haven will be released on 1 November 2020, by Australian label Earshift Music, digitally and on CD.

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