Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Sunny Side Up offers up a fine look at the burgeoning jazz scene in Melbourne, Australia, one full of young creatives pushing the music into new and exciting directions while still paying homage to the music’s past. Dufresnse’s “Pick Up/Galaxy” is part space-age big band and part Headhunters-era Herbie Hancock updated for more modern sensibilities. Its otherwise straight-forward harmony and unison horn lines – lovely in their own right – are soon overtaken by a plethora of extraterrestrial synthesizer sounds, underscored by an unrelentingly heavy funk groove. By the time the song lands in the “Galaxy” section with its Space is the Place-era vocal chants, it’s clear Dufresnse has built a track designed as much to embrace the past as portend the possible future, a sci-fi operetta that manages to tap into the hopeful – rather than dystopian – nature of the genre. Much of the rest of the compilation subsists on a slow-burn, each track riding an ethereal groove built around pan-African percussion and dreamy keyboards. Paramount among this ideal is Kuzich’s almost abstract “There Is No Time.” Like the other tracks on the album, “There Is No Time” exists within some sort of future state in which the promise of jazz’s new directions in the late-‘60s/early-‘70s have been coopted by a new generation and fully realized. “There is no time/ To rewind/ The cycles of my life,” the group intones over an ephemeral groove designed to allow the listener to become completely and totally lost within the moment. There’s an almost meditative quality to the performance, the sparse percussion affording a hypnotic center upon which to focus as the remainder of the track floats in and out of focus. Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange’s “Powers 2 (The People)” borrows heavily from the Headhunters-era Hancock catalog with a dash of Weather Report virtuosity mixed in with its post-James Brown heavy funk. Indeed, the drum groove during portions of “Powers 2 (The People)” comes off as an amalgam of “Sly” and “Spank-A-Lee,” a knowing acknowledgement of the track’s predecessors with instrumental homages and allusions, a practice that has long been a staple in jazz in all its incarnations. Meanwhile, Laneous’ “Nice to See You” operates within the same sonic space as artists like Thundercat and Flying Lotus, incorporating elements of neo-soul, electronica, funk and jazz to create something that sounds futuristic in the truest sense of the word. It’s an exciting aural experiment both densely structured – check the intricate bass and guitar riffs atop an octopus-armed drum groove – and supremely danceable; it’s music both experimental and accessible in the best ways possible. Horatio Luna’s “The Wake-Up” exists within a similar sonic template, exploring an alien landscape dominated by bass being pushed into strange and wonderful new directions. It’s not all post-futurist-funk/fusion, however. Audrey Powne offers up a gorgeous vocal jazz performance in a more traditional sense on “Bleeding Hearts,” her effortless read of the song’s melody complemented by a chord-heavy piano that soon embarks on a post-bop instrumental B section that shows the performers respect of and reverence for the genre’s past while still looking to push the music forward into the 21st century. Similarly, Silentjay’s “Eternal/Internal Peace” rides a slow tropical groove of wordless vocals into a gently rolling bit of Latin jazz that still manages to sneak in aspects of the avant garde, showing a respect for both the past and an innate desire to bring it into the present, pushing the music on into the future. Indeed, Sunny Side Up by and large offers up a look at the exciting current state of jazz as practiced by the younger generation who refuses to let the music itself molder in the halls of academia. Instead, these nine tracks offer seek to infuse new life into modern jazz, showing it to be as vital and relevant as ever, its creative potential far from fully realized.