“This is an unusual and charming album. After 30 years of being known as a bass player, Steve Arie emerges here as an alto saxophonist. His quartet features two frontline instruments only: himself and Paul Cutlan, who, despite his virtuosic command of the whole saxophone/clarinet family, plays only bass clarinet. A rhythm section of double bass (Abel Cross) and drums (Nic Cecire) functions without a chordal instrument. This is modern jazz pared back to its essentials. Still, Arie’s 12 compositions are full of attractive musical ideas, and interactions between the alto and bass clarinet, often in collective improvisation, are beautiful to hear. The improvisations are a delight, and the excellent rhythm section grooves, even at an energy level of subtle chamber music. The cumulative effect of this highly enjoyable album, full of melodic beauty, is that it invokes the feeling that all is well”. Eric Myers, The Australian, May 16, 2020
“Many musicians change their primary instrument in their teens, and the odd one (like guitarist Ralph Towner) in their 20s. But to spend 30 years as a double bassist in such stellar projects as Ten Part Invention and John Turnbull’s beat-poet show, Birth of the Cool, and then suddenly decide you’re really an alto saxophonist, borders on the bizarre. Unsurprisingly for such a musical sophisticate, Steve Arie’s debut in this new guise reveals that facility, conception and a delightfully airy sound are already in place.
He’s also found ideal ways to house it in terms of both the band, completed by Paul Cutlan’s bass clarinet, Able Cross’s bass and Nic Cicere’s drums, and the compositions (which carry vague echoes of the great Oscar Pettigrew’s work). After the teasing Blues in the Meadow these become fascinating, with the off-kilter groove of Weeds topped with the sort of moody melody and solos that imply dark rather than light. The highly distinctive Cutlan continues to cross-hatch shadows throughout an album that, like a large, rambling house, is full of intriguing spaces and curious nooks. The instruments blend beautifully, and Arie sounds like he was born to be a saxophonist”. John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, May 23, 2020