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Album Review


Shadows and Light (2023)


By Dave Lisik | Published June 2023


1. Long-lost Frenemy (6:13)

2. Delicatessence (8:08)

3. This Too Shall Pass (8:42)

4. The Darkness of Silence (11:35)

5. Willowy (6:26)

6. Orange and Olive Trees (5:55)

7. Onwards, Upwards (and Sideways) (5:47)

8. For Woody (7:22)

Divergence 3.jpg
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(There’s an in-depth look at the compositions, orchestra, and this project in the feature piece:

New Shadows and Light for Sydney’s Divergence Jazz Orchestra)


Shadows and Light is the third studio album of the Sydney Australia-based Divergence Jazz Orchestra. Bandleader Jenna Cave has a hand in composing or arranging six of the album’s eight tracks, while also assuming the role of conductor and musical director for Divergence. One of Cave’s early mentors, Miroslav Bukovsky, is the composer of one of Cave’s arrangements (“For Woody”) and he and Cave collaborate on an arrangement of Bukovsky’s “Delicatessence.” Paul Cutlan and Andrew Scott each provide one additional chart to the set.


The orchestra’s first recording was released almost ten years ago, and they continue to release solid material, even with a considerable turnover in the roster of musicians over the years. The band navigates this new set of often technically-challenging compositions with a commendable level of musicality and precision. This indicates a solid baseline ability from each musician as well as effective leadership and rehearsal management from Cave. There’s also a detectable sense of aspiration toward musical nuance in all of the tracks. This intent is first woven into the written music through various orchestration decisions, including variations in orchestral weight and the use of woodwind doubles and other tone colors, and is then effectively brought to fruition through the individual musicians who clearly understand what is being asked of them. 


The band generously gives twelve different musicians solo space, not including drummer Mike Quigley, who is tastefully improvising, as part of his role, much of the time. Bassist Hannah James and Quigley work particularly well together throughout the recording. Vocalist Marie Le Brun lends her attractive and captivating voice on “This Too Shall Pass.” 


The session is engineered and mixed with a sensitivity that reflects the presumed intention of the music. The attention to detail in the ensemble work is where this orchestra shines most, likely evidence of Cave’s ability to communicate her direction effectively when rehearsing the ensemble. Despite the fact that the three recordings of the Divergence Jazz Orchestra have been tracked in different recording spaces, there’s a certain uniformity to the choices made in the post-production of the projects, especially a clear production choice to allow for a noticeable amount of room sound, which is also evident on the previous two Divergence Jazz Orchestra releases.


Even in a city with as much musical depth as Sydney, Australia, Jenna Cave and Divergence Jazz Orchestra’s third impressive recording project in a decade is a tremendous accomplishment of ability and fortitude. 

More information:



Saxophones: Loretta Palmeiro, Abi McCunn, David Reglar, Louis Klaassen, Laura Power, Paul Cutlan (1, 8)

Trumpets: Matt Collins, James Power, Paul Murchison, Will Endicott, Will Gilbert

Trombones: Paul Weber, Alex Silver, Rose Foster, Luke Davis

Guitar: Yutaro Okuda; Piano: Adrian Keevill; Bass: Hannah James; Drums: Mike Quigley

Voice: Marie Le Brun (3)

Director: Jenna Cave


Engineering: Ross A'Hern (February 5 and 6 at Rancom Street Studios, Sydney, Australia)

Mastering: Ross A'Hern and Paul Bryant

Produced by: Jenna, Cave, Paul Cutlan, Jessica Wells (session producer), Blain Cunneen (recording assistant)

Previous projects:

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