Daily Dose: ‘Hair’ by John Sangster

This, this I really love. I didn’t know anything about John Sangster before I heard, other than that he has a rocking beard, but I’m really digging his style. The start is promising, with that absolutely leviathan bass sound, and you tell that it’s old school straight away due to the audible crackle, but it really breaks out into something special when the brass kicks in. It’s the kind of restrained, humorous, not ostentatious horn sound that I really love, and it provides a joy and cheesy excitement to the song that I cannot enthuse enough over. This is all the setting for the lead instrument in this piece, Sangster’s favoured vibraphone, a still underutilised tool and one that really takes over in the second half of this jazzy ditty. To quote Sangster himself: it combines ‘the percussive qualities of the drums with the melodic capability of the trumpet’, and does all of that while still feeling warm, goofy and accessible, even as the soling ramps up towards the end. This kind of retro funky jazz might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really applaud the composition; this track has been flawlessly and elegantly designed from the ground up to release happy endorphins, there’s no better way of describing it. It came out on an album called Ahead of Hair (1969, Festival Records), which is clearly fantastically named, and was released after Sangster had spent a long while mixing it up with every serious name in the Australian jazz scene (he was from Melbourne). It’s exuberant, different, and expressive without being limiting, and I’d really urge you to try it.


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