5+2 Brass Ensemble review excerpts

"Melbourne trumpeter, Peter Knight’s journey through a world of imagination and memory created by Italian writer Italo Calvino in his novel Invisible Cities, a work which arises from a series of imagined conversations between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, and captures the forms of cities as living, breathing architecture.

This album is built around the line-up of five horns (two trumpets in Knight and Gianni Marinucci; trombonists Kynan Robinson and Adrian Sherriff; Geoff Collinson French horn) with double bassist Anita Hustas and Rajiv Jayaweera on drums and percussion providing rhythmic drive. Like Calvino’s work, the music seems to breathe and change each time you listen to it. It’s a mix of sound and genre, a meeting point of jazz and orchestral – the opening bars seem to echo Bartok. The standout is the emotionally powerful four-part Invisible Cities Suite, full of tensions in the rawness and meticulously constructed layers spread across wide territory."

Leon Gettler

The Age Green Guide 1/12/05

"Brass bands have always been good at solemnity, nostalgia and hints of irony, as may be heard here in parts of the Spanish-tinged opening, All the Gravitation of Silence. For much of the time, however, trumpeter Peter Knight’s five-piece brass section, augmented by bass and drums – hence the band’s name – latches on to another quality entirely. It reminds me of that brooding sense of hidden peril in the paintings of Georgio de Chirico, with their long late-afternoon shadows and eerily empty streets.

Two trumpets, two trombones (including Adrian Sherriff’s earth-moving bass model) and a French horn constitute Knight’s palette, and he uses the full richness of that combined sonority sparingly in the course of the 25-minute Invisible Cities Suite, and in the four other pieces. Often the lead instrument at a given time insinuates its part as much as performs it, while the others whisper secrets behind its back, as on Cities and Desire. At other times the horns function as a mini big band, punctuating the solos over the driving rhythm section."

Limlight (ABC Arts and Entertainment Magazine) January 2006

John Shand

"If you’ve only noticed brass bands, which can be charming enough, you could be surprised by the harmonies and textures here. Play it quite loud. In two sections broad brass gives way to a scribbled world of mutes, high, bowed bass and intricately clattering drums. Patterns, the patina on walls, the palimpsest of time, that’s what I hear. Beautiful."

John Clare Sydney Morning Herald

"Rufus, one of Australia’s most prominent independent Jazz labels, has consistently documented that country’s rich Jazz scene. While a great deal of Australian Jazz is probably not heard by the majority of Cadence readers, Rufus is a great place to start for the curious sort. One such excellent release on the label is trumpeter Peter Knight’s 5+2 Brass Ensemble, a brass ensemble consisting of five horns and two rhythm players. As one might gather, the group’s sound is powerful and strident, though the arrangements and instrumentation provide for a surprisingly wide timbral spectrum. In this configuration, two trumpets play against a French horn, a trombone, and bass trombone, abetted by the potent rhythm team of bassist Anita Hustas and drummer Rajiv Jayaweera.

Compositionally, the program is focused on Knight’s 'Invisible Cities Suite,' a four part suite influenced by Italian writer Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, a tome dedicated to reflections on cities and their imagery. Taking up such inspiration, the first movement, “Cities and Desire” is a foggy, ruminative piece that presents both symphonic elements, thanks mostly to Geoff Collinson’s French horn and the trombones that conjure a grave soundworld. The suite gains momentum on its second section, “Hypatia,” a roiling vamp set by Adrian Sheriff’s bass trombone, Hustas’ bass, and Jayaweera’s pulsing drums that inspire the active interplay of the ensemble, eventually dissolving and then swinging mightily. As for the concluding half, “Cities and Signs: Vault” ripples with urgency due to a pliant groove and the farewell, 'Cities and Memory,' floats away like a passing vision, replete with the ensemble’s vocal whispers that add an air of both mystery and reflection. As for the standalone compositions, 'All the Gravitation of Silence,' opens as a shifting soundworld, commencing as an impressionistic pastiche, an uptempo swing jaunt that includes potent solos from the leader and Adrian Sheriff’s bass trombone and a return to its initial thoughts. Of the remaining pieces, 'Fragment' is a stunning ballad with Gianni Marinucci’s flugelhorn cutting deep and Dave Douglas’ “Loopy,” the only non- Knight piece, is taken as a joyous waltz that is both invigorating and inspires repeat visits. Worth noting is there are also two brief fragments that are less compelling, but serve their purpose as interludes/sketches. Worth searching out (if you can find it), Peter Knight and his ensemble have created a riveting work."

Cadence Magazine New York

Jay Collins