The Stranger in the Mirror album review

*Late last year my good friend from high school Jake Mason decided to form an organ jazz trio with guitarist James Sherlock and yours truly on drums. We had two most enjoyable days in Jake's studio and i'm really happy with the way this record turned out. This review published 16/6/18 in 'The Weekend Australian' newspaper.


The Stranger in the Mirror

Jake Mason Trio

Soul Messin’ Records

4 stars

This excellent album from a Melbourne organ trio features Jake Mason on the Hammond, guitarist James Sherlock and drummer Danny Fischer. Mason plays left-hand bass lines, and achieves the classic organ trio sound, beamed through the traditional Leslie speaker. Saxophonist Paul Williamson guests on three of the 10 tracks. All compositions are by Mason, about half of them co-written with others.

Attractive, catchy tunes, they are effective vehicles for improvisation. Sherlock, Mason and Williamson produce solos that epitomise good taste and swing. Relaxed and playing within themselves, they’re not concerned with tearing the place down. The album’s success is found in the variety of different moods on each track. Most of the conventional time-feels in this genre are given a solid workout.

The title track of The Stranger in the Mirror is a haunting beguine. People Two & One has a dead-slow 12/8 feel, characteristic of the blues. Rib Eye tears along in bright four, while Candy Smack is a happy, clap-along shuffle with a backbeat, characteristic of R&B. Fischer must warm the heart of each bandleader he works for: as also heard in groups led by John Scurry and Sam Anning, he is the quintessential jazz drummer, able to excel in different contexts.

Rather than foist a style on to the music, he plays only what is necessary to maximise the time-feel and the mood of the moment. He is not afraid to use brushes or to bring the volume right down when necessary — his talent to create space in the music is indispensable — yet when the music goes into overdrive, as in many places on this fine album, he’s there with you.