Originating from Darwin, Australia, James Ryan has performed extensively throughout Australia and Europe, basing himself in London for four years. Following a Masters of Music majoring in Jazz he taught performance, improvisation and composition at the Canberra School of Music (A.N.U.), The Queensland Conservatorium of Music (Griffith University) and the Queensland University of Technology. James Ryan’s fascination with improvisation and original jazz composition is reflected in his recordings and performances. The James Ryan Quartet released its self titled debut in 1997 and the James Ryan Trio released ‘Long Way Home’ on Jazzgroove Records in 2007.
ORIGINALLY from Darwin, James Ryan moved to Sydney in 2003 after four years performing in Europe, and his first album is an informal live recording. Astonishingly, it is also the first time James Hauptmann (drums), Brendan Clarke (bass) and Ryan have played together. What leaps out is the near virtuosity of the leader, as a player of three instruments (tenor sax, flute and saxello, a more mellow soprano sax) and as a composer. Ryan’s energetic, hyper-fast tenor rockets through one of the originals, Hey Which Way, in a style that is far more than speedy finger-following. The solos are rich in ideas, produced by a superlative technique, supported and understood by a tightly integrated rhythm section. Yet the slow ballad Moonlight In Vermont is just as expressive, lavish with moody sound pictures. The opening solo flute on High Life, featuring overblowing and throat growls, is a smorgasbord of hard-swinging excitement, reminiscent of great US player Roland Kirk.
4 and a half stars out of 5 John McBeath The Weekend Australian November 2006
James Ryan's latest contributions to Australian Jazz in a Long Way Home, are evidence of a productive artist who transcends all previous works. Seemingly searching for new sonorous boundaries, externalizing an abundance of expression, while underpinned by a rhythm section who provide great swing feel at extreme tempos. The title track Long Way Home, pays tribute to Ryan's homeland in the Top End, evoking a warm sense of longing and pensiveness. This piece is rich in tone and not quite as raw and aggressive as other tracks and even comparative to Branford Marsalis in tunes like Mo' Betta Blues. I was also intrigued by his use of the key Gmajor and a certain sense of sound-colour that seems to compliment so warmly. Intended or not, for the synaesthesiasts like Scriabin, Gmajor sound-colour correspondances are said to be red and orange with a sense of will and creative play, which really sets the 'mise en scene'! Whatever... the fact is, it’s a nice result, the tune really engages the listener aesthetically. The most contrasting piece High Life, is a bright and playfull original tune, which showcases his exciting 'gusto' flute style, that is sure to have your feet tapping. Overall, this CD presents some impressive compositions, great improvising and ample jazz groove. From a unique and talented player who may well become Australia's next Bernie McGann?
Jim Budd Jazz Queensland Jazz Queensland News Letter December 2006
The 505 club in Surry Hills is as close as I’ve seen in Sydney to a New York loft. The sound is great. It’s hard to find. Jazz is a strong component of the club’s line-up, and here is saxophone trio recorded live there with unusual presence. The first track is a loose waltz on which the leader, Ryan deploys the high, sweet saxello in a theme statement and an improvisation that is by turns languid and scalding.
The second track, led by tenor saxophone, is full of power, hard bounce, loping swing and thunder. You can hear the tenor’s barking exclamations boom in the room’s resonance. Shouts rise as the rhythm section (bassist Brendan Clarke, drummer James Hauptmann) kicks in. The textural and rhythmic interplay is very fine.
There follows a slow, sensuous rendition of Moonlight in Vermont, some African high-life on flute and so on. It’s a satisfying workout by distinctive young musicians reaching maturity.
John Clare The Sydney Morning Herald February 24th 2007
This is a vibrant, expressive and highly enjoyable CD by a very convincing trio. The live atmosphere has been beautifully captured on this CD without compromise to the sound quality. The leader's saxello sings with wonderful freedom on the beautiful opening track, Three Wishes penned by Brendan Clarke. James's tenor playing is strong and virtuosic, but never mere acrobatics. The band pays tribute to tradition with interesting interpretations of several standards Moonlight in Vermont and Bye Bye Blackbird. The original compositions on the CD are catchy jumping off points for these three exciting players who play with precision, energy, commitment and creativity. Buy this CD. Listening to it, you feel like you're at a really great gig.
‘One of Sydney’s great trios’ John Pochee, Australian Jazz Legend
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Master of Music, Australian National University 1995