ARENA / Arena
If you can imagine the gathering of a group of Australian session musicians channelling the sounds of Herbie Hancock Headhunter’s and Marc Moulin’s Placebo, recording an album out of hours at a TV studio and then releasing a privately pressed hard hitting jazz funk record then what you have is Arena, one of Australia’s most revered and scarce rare groove records. This was the name given to a pick-up group of session players led by Ted White, a veteran of the British big band jazz scene (an associate of Ted Heath and Basil Kirchin) who had immigrated to Australia in the 1960s to work in the burgeoning television industry. This one-time studio project (recorded only to test out the facilities for a new studio) barely yet thankfully saw an LP release in 1975. Pressed in minute quantities only with limited distribution, the album was subsequently forgotten and obscured by time, only to be resurrected in the 90s by DJs and collectors seeking out lost and rare records. The album has since become one of the country’s most celebrated and collectible jazz funk recordings and has proved to be a pivotal point in Australian jazz, marking a shift from the modern jazz and R&B sounds of the previous decades to the cross pollinating electric jazz funk of the 70s. Characterized by the heavy use of electronically treated saxophone, psychedelic guitar, Moog and spacey Fender Rhodes, the album is a classic of the genre. While acknowledging the often compiled and sampled breaks track, The Long One, the complete album offers much more, exemplified by its complicated and obsessive jazz rhythms, abstract and middle-eastern horn lines and pulsing electric funk. The Roundtable & Northside Records are pleased to offer this long awaited reissue of this highly collectible Australian rare groove LP.