Jason Bruer – Hammerhead

4.5 stars
Reviewed by Barry O’Sullivan

Jason Bruer’s third album with his band Hammerhead is a pleasurable pastiche of original compositions written during the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic. These are grand sextet ideas with inspired blowing on the solo spots from the horns, Andrew Robertson (alto, baritone, and flute) and Simon Ferenci (trumpet, flugelhorn), combined with a stellar, spot-on rhythm section with Greg Coffin (piano), Dave Quinn (double bass) and Alex Hirlian (drums). Within the majestic arrangements from Bruer paying tribute to his jazz heroes and family, his assured playing on tenor and soprano saxophones is always confident and melodic with a full-rounded tone, backed by Hirlian’s all-energy drums shifting the rhythmic drives and grooves. Greg Coffin’s piano solos are inspirational and a measure of his unassuming genius. The music created on favourite tracks, Tumbleweed on George Street, Blues for Shemp and The Yearning, is a testament to the experience these musicians have all had in improvising, without any grandstanding. Here is unpretentious, lyrical music that will greatly appeal to a contemporary jazz audience.