Acclaimed Australian world music duo Alex & Nilusha have been kinda busy lately! On June 10th this year they released a wonderful new album called Afterglow but haven’t been able to slot in an Australian launch for it until August 30, when they play Melbourne jazz club Birds Basement. First they had to attend to many international commitments including a performance at the prestigious Cubadisco Festival in Havana, Cuba, as well as dates in Mexico City. While in Havana, the pair appeared on several popular Cuban radio and TV programs, plus played a couple of shows as guests of local artists such as Jorge Gomez and Grupo Moncada, and Cesar Lopez and his Habana Ensemble. They also found time to record new works with William Roblejo on violin and Pedro Trujillo from the legendary Grupo Moncada on flute and quena, engineered by Alfonso Peña.
Not that any further confirmation was required but the pair’s 3rd album Afterglow is even more evidence that Alex & Nilusha are a world class act, capable of producing complex and sophisticated rhythms wrapped in an easily digestible (and slow-danceable) package. From the opening track, Estelle, listeners will rapidly surrender to the swirling melody and the lure of Nilusha’s exotic vocalisations. On the surface it all seems so effortless but dig deeper and you’ll discover her amazing control and technique, as she hovers over Pertout’s intricate and contagious Latin-flavoured percussion arrangements. Meanwhile in the background, guest guitarist and jazz legend Mike Stern meanders sublimely over his fretboard. Autumn Green, is a masterclass in vocal control. The combination of tasteful Grapelliesque violin, and accompanying Fender Rhodes piano result in a warm, contemplative vibe. The track Early Black Velvety Sky should have come with a warning sticker, as its tidal pull may easily induce involuntary samba steps. Percussionist extraordinaire Alex Pertout brings his considerable collection of toys and rhythmic magic to Ominira, featuring Evripides Evripidou on electric bass, who makes the trip particularly scenic. Australian jazz dignitary Paul Grabowsky lends his piano elegance to the title track Afterglow, yet another enchanting piece, possessing a reflective spirit, buoyed by its oscillating rhythms. The Moon and Me completes the album journey. It’s apt that the percussive pulse which permeates the entire album, emerges from the mix to take a bow in an extended percussive outro.
In addition to their own cultural backgrounds, Chilean-born percussionist Alex Pertout and Sri Lankan–born vocalist Nilusha Dassenaike travel the world experiencing and devouring the arts of many different nations, infusing it into their own projects, presenting us with a fascinating, sonic slide show of their many musical expeditions. Mention also must be made of core band members Frank Di Sario (bass), Geoff Hughes (guitar), Phil Turcio (keys) and other international guests Cuban violinist William Roblejo and Argentinian guitarist Alan Plachta, whose collective input adds immense flavour to the recording.
Alex & Nilusha officially launch the album on Tuesday August 30 at Birds Basement in Melbourne. Tickets available here