East of West offers a captivating new take on the fusion between world music and jazz, playing original compositions inspired by the music of the Mediterranean and Balkans. East of West was formed in order to showcase new compositions and improvisations that explore the connections between Eastern and Western music, and is proud to announce the release of Little Harbour, their debut album in September 2019. 

The East of West trio plays original music that primarily draws from the rich musical influences of the Balkans and the Mediterranean. With experience in jazz and Middle Eastern classical music forms, the band’s compositional focus is on creating beautiful story-telling melodies spun over rich traditional rhythms, allowing space for open solos and improvisation. Oud, double bass and percussion blend to create a sound that will awaken in the listener a sense of mystery and possibility.

Little Harbour was recorded live in the beautiful Yama-Nui studio, tucked into the leafy Sunshine Coast hinterland, with guest engineer Siiri Metsar, one of Australia’s top live and studio sound engineers for music involving traditional acoustic instruments. The album was also mixed by Siiri Metsar and mastered by Martin Pullan of Eden Sound, Melbourne, who’s worked in the course of his career with names like Things of Stone and Wood, Split Enz and The Black Sorrows.

The trio consists of Bosnian-born Goran Gaji (double bass), Philip Griffin (oud) and Malindi Morris (hand percussion). All three are active in professional music scenes (world, jazz, folk, baroque, to name a few). Goran Gaji plays with and composes for the Queensland Music Award winning band Mzaza; Philip Griffin works or has worked with internationally renowned musicians such as Linsey Pollak, Tunji Beier, Frankie Armstrong and Ross Daly; Malindi Morris has worked with internationally known guitarists ‘Duo Aritmija’ in Slovenia, composing for and directing the project ‘Lastovka’ and was one of the founding band leaders of the Balkan brass band ‘The Transbalkan Express’.

Little Harbour is a rich collection of 13 of the band’s original compositions, most of which involve a considerable element of improvisation (as can be heard on the title track, ‘Little Harbour’), using jazz forms and elements from the Middle-eastern/Mediterranean traditions of taqsim (melodic improvisation). The main sound of the album is grounded in the interplay between oud and double bass, interwoven with a rhythmic tapestry of hand percussion instruments such as frame drums, darabuka and cajon, embellished occasionally by the bright tones of the Greek laouto on tracks such as ‘Zephyr’. The warmth of the shah kaman (the luthier Peter Biffin’s modern Australian take on the spike fiddles of the Middle East) played by guest musician Greta Kelly (Mzaza, Deep Blue) adds a lyrical beauty to the tracks ‘Altered State’ and ‘Sleepy Giant’.

Recorded live in the studio and carefully curated, the album has a spontaneity and freshness that engages the listener immediately, inviting them to explore the deeply personal and rich internal landscape of East of West’s composition and improvisation.