Drawing heavy influence from the New Orleans sound made famous by the likes of Professor Longhair and Dr. John, Melburnians Jazz Party serve up a mixed bag on their debut album. The band doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel – but their stylings on this album promote what would no doubt be a very fun and entertaining live experience.
Monday Night was recorded live – in a studio, presumably, although frustratingly there is a major lack of detail in their press release and across their web presence. We do however know that the band teamed up with producer Steven Schram, who is perhaps best known in local circles for having previously worked with The Cat Empire and Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes. The album at times definitely bares the hallmarks of his production. A short section of syncopated, 1950s style exotica at the end of “Magic Man” follows the same seemingly spontaneous outro formula as the Schram produced track “Shoulders” by The Cat Empire. Rock n’ Roll Graveyard (a track which calls to mind Tom Waits‘ 1992 album Bone Machine) features a piano arpeggio and drum buildup, again nearly identical to a formula Schram employed on The Cat Empire‘s Cinema album.
Given the stunning lack of information provided about Monday Night‘s production, it is unclear whether Schram was responsible for a mix which at times is quite murky. “Jazz Dog” is reminiscent of “Life in a Glasshouse” by Radiohead (and jazz outfit Humphrey Lyttelton Band) and evokes images of a dark, smoke filled cabaret. The song builds suspense, with what sounds like a distorted vibraphone providing welcome and mysterious overtones, however a lack of dynamics is not aided in any way by the mix. At the midway mark of “Gravity”, it feels like someone forgot to push the fader up on the desk during a noodling jazz guitar solo.
Vocalist Loretta Miller makes a stunning entrance on track four, “Out of Sight Out of Mind”, and remains as lead for the next couple of tracks. “Talking In Your Sleep” and “Magic Man” are reminiscent of jazz standards “Autumn Leaves” and “Feeling Good”, respectively. Miller’s performance on these tracks is truly captivating, and coupled with sublime backing from the band, make for a compelling listen. Unfortunately, with vocal duties alternating, it’s not sustained across the entire 46 minutes.