Chelsea Prastiti could be said to represent an intergenerational change in the direction Jazz Vocals are headed. I have watched her grow in confidence since her time at the Auckland University Jazz School and she is always ready to try brave new experiments. Because her default is the use of wordless vocal lines, she has better been able to explore the relationship between voice and the other instruments. This integrated approach is possible for two main reasons. Her keen awareness of what is happening around her and above all her compositional skills.
Chelsea Prastiti is writing good material. At times it feels brave and edgy, but it is always interesting. Perhaps another factor is the musical familiarity with her band mates. Her bands generally feature Matt Steele (piano), Callum Passells (alto saxophone), Liz Stokes (trumpet), Eamon Edmunson-Wells (bass) and Tristam deck (drums). Because they were students together and because she has played with them often, I have gained the impression that she may even write material with them in mind. One of her best recent performances was as guest artist on Callum Passells last CJC gig. These two always work well together, but hearing them moving in lockstep as they traversed standards and amazingly innovative free numbers was a joy.
There were a few newer compositions and some re-arranged takes on earlier compositions. Everything in the sets was composed by Prastiti. I like ‘Bells’ which begins with a simple peal of bells, but quickly evolves into an altogether more complex piece. Steele was standout on this, never over-playing but making every note count. His comping was at times minimalist but he conveyed a certain strength. The rhythmic feel that he laid down was further enhanced by Deck and Edmunson-Wells. This allowed Passells and Prastiti to explore the tune in a methodical manner. Steles solo is worth a particular mention on ‘Bells’, as it underscores his growing maturity as a pianist.
Prastiti is involved in a number of local projects including an ethnically influenced a capella group. It is however her ability to edge toward the avant-garde that always interests me the most.
What: Chelsea Prastiti (vocals, compositions), Matt Steele (piano), Cameron Passells (alto saxophone), Eamon Edmuson-Wells (bass), Tristan Deck (drums) – Guests; Liz Stokes (trumpet), Cristal Choi (vocals)
Where: CJC (Creative Jazz Club), Britomart 1885, Auckland, New Zealand. 9th July 2014. http://www.creativejazzclub.co.nz