CD Review by Tony Smith
In this 2006 album the trio, Jigzag, display great individual musicality and outstanding ensemble collectively.
Jigzag are Greg Bryce (guitar and voice), Caroline Trengove (violin, flute, percussion and voice) and Liz Frencham (double bass, SASE bass and voice).
They share the writing credits for all 13 tracks bar one, ‘Bless This Day’ by Steve Vella.
The sleeve notes supply complete lyrics.
Although Jigzag no longer perform regularly as a group, Bryce, Trengove and Frencham continue their musical journeys and perhaps unsurprisingly, it is their numerous productive collaborations which have drawn them onto stages across Australia and internationally.
Liz Frencham for example, has been a long term collaborator of Fred Smith’s and has produced albums which are anthologies of partnerships with many other musicians.
Her ability to provide support in vocal harmony and with her bass is extraordinary.
Frencham speaks of the way an unfretted instrument allows a player to bend a note to achieve the perfect balance with the emotion in a song.
Trengove and Bryce have had equally interesting musical journeys, and Jigzag could no doubt re-assemble with ease, given their obvious comfort with each other.
Apparently, apart from sheets of lyrics, the trio have not needed to write their music down, such has been their intrinsic understanding.
In these pieces, Trengove’s fiddle work is outstanding, Bryce’s rhythm on the guitar the perfect anchor and Frencham’s bass subtle and enriching.
Their voices as lead or in harmony are always tuneful and expressive.
‘In the Middle’, ‘My Reason’, ‘Over the Fence’ ‘Tread Carefully’, ‘Rejoice’ and ‘Get Back Home’ are excellent songs to showcase Jigzag’s originality.
In ‘Jericho’, Liz Frencham sings her heart out, “Hello, you can call me Jericho, ‘cause I feel like a city forsaken by God, and oh, if only I was Jericho, I could wait for my Joshua”
Trengove’s ‘Melt in Your Arms’ is a slow burning jazz blues number.
“I wanna melt in your arms like a lover, I wanna rest on your chest all day.”
Bryce’s ‘New Shine’ starts with the cheeky “I met a girl, hard to describe her she was an abalone diver.”
The chorus which consists of ‘woo hoo hoo’ can be carried off only because of the sense of fun Jigzag bring to their performances.
While each of the songwriters has produced some memorable work, Frencham’s ‘The Weaver Song’, has perhaps the most commanding lyrics: “I’m a weaver of potions, a weaver of rhyme, a weaver of any old thing I can find, I’m a weaver of notions, I weave mountains to climb, I can drown in an ocean I’ve woven inside”.
‘Tsunami Surfing’ by Bryce and Trengove and ‘Building Canoes’ (Trengove) are instrumentals that would both fit comfortably in the dance repertoire.
Jigzag are highly professional musicians who clearly play for the love of the music and the joy of collaboration.
Festival audiences would be delighted to have Caroline Trengove, Greg Bryce and Liz Frencham re-unite and reprise.