“As soon as I heard jazz, I knew it was the music for me.” Late Nights is a lovely little tape, a love letter to jazz via electronics and sampling. The set contains a clear narrative arc, represented by dialogue snippets that begin with one man’s introduction to jazz and end with an encore dedication in a jazz club. The middle section is peppered with brief outtakes of musicians speaking about their craft, as well as a brief prison interview. Even the non-jazz references speak jazz, with a free flowing style and riffing nature.
The form chosen by Melbourne’s Department (Adam Kyriakou) is similar to Botany, Fold and Public Service Broadcasting, in that the words and music are smartly embedded in sharp, head-nodding beats. “I would like to be able to produce a more beautiful sound”, an old, unnamed narrator intones on the title track. This combination accomplishes the feat by framing the saxophone, trumpet, piano, and other instruments in relief. In the end, it’s easy to see why the lead character fell in love with jazz, as every groove, beat and sample exudes a smoky, brandy-filled vibe.
The quality of the release is the lead story, but the artist’s age (16) is worth mentioning. We’ve heard plenty of excellent music from younger people (and lest we forget, Lorde was 15 when she had her first #1), and we’ve heard plenty of poor music from older people, but it’s rare to find one so young who appreciates the music of an older generation. Late Nights honors history by updating it, and speaks to the listeners of two centuries at once. After dedicating a song to “that lovely lady in the front row”, the final speaker signs off: “thank you very much, you’ve been a great audience.” It’s a final example of the dignity that Department lends to his subject. After such an accomplished start, we’re hoping to hear more from the young artist soon. (Richard Allen)