On March 20 of this year, one of the finest modern jazz records of the year was released by Coast. This self-titled LP is filled with pure energy and I knew that as soon as the opportunity arose, I wanted to feature this Australian quartet on our site. Today, I am proud to present Coast as our Weekly Featured Artist. If you’re interested in exploring what a modern jazz record should sound like, then Coast is a great place to start. Finding new takes on fusion and experimental jazz is always a treat and from the very first time I heard “Blackline”, I was in love with their sound and approach. There are little nuances and influences from classic jazz, electronic, and rock to be heard.
Forming in 2015, Coast‘s cast of characters united after a few rehearsals and their realization that they had something pretty special. I reached out to Paul Derricott, the drummer and chief songwriter, to get more information about the band’s formation and how their distinct approach to jazz came about:
‘I have always composed music, I think it started with learning to play music. For me the two are completely entwined. Tenor Saxophone was my first instrument and something is still muck around on, it is in a similar range to my voice so I hear melodies in that register naturally. Playing with Pete [Koopman], Michael [Avgenicos] and Shannon [Stitt] is a sir tot special treat for me, those guys are some of the best guys around. they bring so much to the music’.
One unique thing about Coast is how abundant yet balanced electric guitar is sprinkled throughout their compositions. Sure, there are plenty of melodies led by the keyboard, flashy sax lines, and punchy bass parts, but adding in an electric guitar is a natural, albeit rare find. There’s a really good reason for its inclusion, according to Derricott:
‘More recently I wanted to play and therefore write music that was more influenced by electric sounds, the stuff I grew up listening to was always driven by electric guitar. Guitar and saxophone sound so nice together as melodic instruments a natural choice for harmonic accompaniment to them (to me) is Fender Rhodes’.
One of the many things that struck me about Coast is the diversity of the rhythms and the genuine sonic journey that occurs with a full listen through. “Blackline” is the perfect album opener that allows each aspect of the band to shine, but keeps things generally upbeat. “Tide” is a more laid-back approach and lets the space between the notes breathe more deeply. “Or Not” is percussive, direct, and aggressive. The final track, “White Water”, ends the album on an experimental and atmospheric high that at times feels more like post-rock than jazz. When I asked about the inspiration about the music and the concept of the record, here’s what Mr. Derricott had to say:
‘The music is inspired by the coastline of Sydney from Bondi to the SouthHead land at Vaucluse, it is a beautiful and stark place that has a special energy. The tension of a place between the city and the wilderness. I became fascinated with it after swimming along it as some sort of meditative fitness trip I have been on for a while. Life Be In It! Hahaha’.
Coast are a breath of fresh air in the modern jazz scene. Their debut LP has been a bright spot in the genre and they’re just getting started. If you find yourself in Australia in on October 25, don’t miss them at Lazybones in Marrickville, with fellow Art As Catharsis label mates, instrumental, adj. In the meantime the band is hard at work on new material for a follow-up to their debut, look for it next year!
Peter Koopman – Guitar
Michael Avgenicos – Saxophone
Shannon Stitt – Keyboards
Paul Derricott – Drums