Phillip Johnston: soprano, alto saxophones
Paul Cutlan: alto saxophone
Sandy Evans: tenor saxophone
Andrew Robson: baritone saxophone
In the 2000s, the unique Australian saxophone quartet, with Phillip Johnston, Andrew Robson or Paul Cutlan, Sandy Evans and Nick Bowd, played a series of memorable gigs at festivals and clubs in Sydney and recorded the Rufus Records CD Boggy Creek Bop, which was praised domestically and internationally. In 2020, the group is beginning again, with a small juggle of personnel, and is now available for performances.
Boggy Creek Bop was the debut release from SNAP, an Australian saxophone quartet which can jump from fiery improvisations to complex written music at the drop of a beat. Their music encompasses bop, free jazz and world music, as well as a few styles that don’t have names yet. But it’s joyous and energetic, and appeals to both the emotions and the intellect.
The group features New York expatriate Phillip Johnston, and three of Sydney’s finest saxophonists: Sandy Evans, Paul Cutlan, and Andrew Robson. Their combined C.V.s include work with the Australian Art Orchestra, The catholics, Clarion Fracture Zone, MARA!, Guy Klucevsek, Gary Lucas, The Microscopic Septet, James Morrison, Mike Nock, ROVA, Mikel Rouse, Sousaphonics, Art Spiegelman, Lou Reed, Ten Part Invention, Gest8, & John Zorn. Individually, they have toured Australia, Asia, Europe, the U.S. in various combinations.
Listen to the SNAP play Sandy Evans’ Street Party
The centrepiece of the CD is Five Portraits of Bellingen, a new work by Sandy Evans which evokes the sights and sounds of the NSW north coast. It pays tribute to the Gumbanggyir, the indigenous people of the Bellingen region and combines bebop, blues and African High Life in a uniquely Australian way . Phillip Johnston’s contributions to the CD draw on his extensive history in film scoring and Third Stream music. The CD also includes pieces by legendary classical/New Music accordionist Guy Klucevsek, and Allan Chase’s imagined meeting of Julius Hemphill and Howlin’ Wolf.
John Shand, in the Sydney Morning Herald, described their appearance at the 2007 Jazz: Now Festival at the Sydney Opera House as, “creating sonorities from the Ellingtonian to the spiky,” and music writer John Clare called them “full of early jazz quirkiness, impressionism and modernity…”
Listen to the SNAP play Guy Klucevsek’s’ Bar Talk
The New York City Jazz Record says: “SNAP, a Sydney-based saxophone quartet, combines the firepower of four animated musical personalities – Phillip Johnston, Paul Cutlan, Sandy Evans and Nick Bowd (playing soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes, respectively) – with the compositional prowess of Johnston (best known for his work with the Microscopic Septet) and Evans. Space prevents full elaboration of the merits of Boggy Creek Bop, their debut, but suffice to say that the writing is brilliant, combining a sophisticated mix of unisons, chorales, solos, counterpoint and free-blown sections, which transition organically and come alive through the dynamic playing of each hornist. High points include Evans’ “Urungatang” and the title track, both part of a longer suite.” (Tom Greenland)
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