Australian Trio Woolhouse - Michailidis - Robertson release album of atmospheric, enigmatic contemporary jazz
Hailing from Australia, the trio Woolhouse—Michailidis—Robertson is quite unlike many acts in the jazz scene today. Instead of following a straightforward rhythmic path, the band has liberated themselves from any sort of musical boundaries, delivering free-flowing grooves that produce layers of atmosphere and texture.
Consisting of pianist Jeremy Woolhouse, guitarist Lucas Michailidis, and bassist Ben Robertson, the group was formed in 2006. Categorizing itself as contemporary jazz, the band certainly defines the literal meaning of that title. Their debut album, Ascent, is completely modern in its design and feel. Just listen to the first track, “Mandala," with Woolhouse unreeling cinematic landscapes on his piano as Michailidis weaves patterns of ethereal guitar work.
There seems to be a deeper, even spiritual, thought process at work with Woolhouse—Michailidis—Robertson, giving their compositions an added sense of mystery. For example, “Mandala" is also a Sanskrit word for “circle." In the Hindu and Buddhist religions, their sacred art commonly appears in that form. And art is certainly what the group is creating here. According to Woolhouse, the band's work represents his passion: music. “Entering the music field was never a choice for me," Woolhouse explained. “At the time of choosing what to study, it was simply a natural progression of me doing what I most enjoyed—there was never anything else that seemed remotely appealing. I've developed several other interests since: graphic arts, cooking, and walking. But music is where I am home."
However, art in whatever form doesn't gel overnight. For Woolhouse, it can be a meticulous process. “For a song to reach the recording studio, it has first been through a long process of refinement," Woolhouse revealed. “My compositions usually take three months or so to be complete, then I take them to the band, who will give fresh input. I'll be editing for a year or so, sometimes longer, until we have such comfort with the tune that it seems to play itself, and we have confidence in messing with it—the way jazz players do."
Such dedication to craftsmanship and innovation unveils a motivation that is more concerned with artistic longevity than short-term commercial success. “Honestly, I don't take an entrepreneurial view on music," Woolhouse said. “I only relate to it being a business from the sense that I can earn a living doing what I love. And what could make one richer than spending a lifetime sharing music?"
by Robert Sutton for allaboutjazz.com