John Coltrane Homage to Strata East ft. Gary Bartz

from Precious Energy by Barney McAll ft. Gary Bartz

  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    "It is a magnum opus that belongs alongside the kaleidoscopic 21st century jazz-inspired sounds emerging from London, Chicago, and Los Angeles, though it towers above most of them. -ALLMUSIC.COM

    ‘Like a dream’: Barney McAll recruits Hiatus Kaiyote and it’s genius
    -Sydney Morning Herald

    Barney McAll Is at His World-Class Best on ‘Precious Energy’
    -Rolling Stone

    "like drowning in incredible album"-
    Music Trust

    “ Barney is one of my favorite pianists, that’s why he’s been in my band for the last 20 years” - GARY BARTZ

    ​"a brilliant album, beautiful work"- GILLES PETERSON

    About The Precious Energy Album

    Melbourne-based, Grammy-nominated and ARIA winner Barney McAll returns in 2022 with his new album Precious Energy, on Extra Celestial Arts.

    Growing up on the outskirts of Melbourne in Mooroolbark in the 60s and 70s, the McAll family home was just around the corner from Len Barnard, drummer and brother of local jazz luminary, Bob Barnard.

    “Len used to bring these records to our house. He'd be dropping these amazing rarities to us on vinyl,” Barney recalls. “We were these little kids just lapping it up. It was changing our very DNA, but we were just digging it ‘cause we loved it; we weren't studying it, we were just playing it until we absorbed it.”

    When Barney was just ten years old, his brother gave him Miles Davis’s Tune Up, a double LP on Prestige “with a picture of Miles on the front cover in a boxing ring looking all tough."

    “The Tune Up album had so much language there that I learnt ‘cause I REALLY listened to it, thousands of times," Barney laughs. "The reason I can play this black American music is because I have certain records where I can sing every note, not because some university said you have to learn every note, just because I loved them so much. So, that’s how I learnt to play, listening to black music from a young age and absorbing it. Then eventually I got called up by the artists in that whole scene.”

    In 1997, after numerous ARIA nominations and Australian jazz awards, Barney relocated to New York to join legendary saxophonist Gary Bartz’s quartet.

    During this period he also toured with Fred Wesley and the JB’s, The Josh Roseman Unit and earned a Grammy nomination in 2007 for his work with Groove Collective.

    “I ALMOST have the right to talk about funk, because I've played with some of the people who created it. I toured with Fred Wesley for 14 years. I learnt so much from playing that James Brown material during my time with Fred. I got to play with Maceo, Pee Wee Ellis, Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks. That was an incredible opportunity for a kid from Mooroolbark, and they were happy with what I played!”

    Fred Wesley once told Barney to “just bubble along, listen to everyone else, really listen. Save all the other shit for your solo album.” By the time he returned to the bandstand with Gary Bartz, Barney had learned to play more as a band and create as one entity, rather than trying to shine the spotlight on himself. Bartz noticed it too. 'You tell Fred, thanks a lot!'

    “It’s not your show, it’s the music’s show; that’s what Gary always told me.”

    After twenty years in NYC and constant touring with the likes of Fred Wesley, Gary Bartz, Dewey Redman and Billy Harper, and stints as music director for pop luminaries Sia and Daniel Merriweather, Barney returned home to Melbourne with his young family. It was Merriweather who helped re-acquaint him with the local scene, including Laneous and the members of Hiatus Kaiyote.

    This album is the alchemizing of Barney’s worlds, both distant and near, spanning generations and continents. Precious Energy came together naturally from him being on the scene, among the mural covered streets of Melbourne, in strange night clubs where the dance scene overflows into the jazz space, improvising experimental R&B jams at bush doofs and just being open: all rich fertilizer for Precious Energy which Barney describes as ‘an organic blossoming’. “I’ve done a lot of recording and this one feels really organic - all in the same sphere.”

    Barney’s most acclaimed records have been more compositional art affairs. “I've been making stuff I wanted to hear and was ruthless in that,” he says. “With this record, I wanted a warm feeling for everyone. I wanted to make an album that spoke to positivity, sun rays and love during 2020, when all these things seemed to be on some kind of cosmic precipice. I also wanted to blend my mentor Gary Bartz with some of the sounds and players I've been delving into in Melbourne – and the result is the happiest, deepest album I have ever made.”

    Barney speaks of recording with Simon, Bender and Perrin of Hiatus Kaiyote as a never-ending sandbox of creativity. “Those guys are always thinking in new ways, they’re not precious at all. It’s all broad strokes...they have such authentic, distinctive ways of making music, and they are always looking for new sounds!"

    "Simon has all these bizarre keyboards with all these different effects and will just randomly say ‘this feels good let’s just set up a mic right now on this little amp and put the piano through it!'”

    On drummer/percussionist Perrin Moss, Barney says “Perrin is psychopathically creative. Every time he plays it’s like dropping the dial on a Monk record, you know it’s Monk and you know it’s amazing is that?!”

    The admiration is mutual. “Barney’s energy is like a five-year-old child tasting ice cream for the first time every day!” Simon says laughing. “We did a day at Headgap with Ben Vanderwal on drums and churned through all these songs. It was such a low-pressure environment and there was room for creative energy from all the players. The way Barney is so open to other musicians' interpretations is very special. It's a unique thing for someone who is so respected; it is a beautiful rare trait. I love that he just has that sort of trust in the musicians he's engaged.”

    ​Paul Bender describes Barney as “a pure spirit, an incredible cosmic jester, in tune with the divine humour of reality. The sessions we did were totally open, playful, exploratory and a true joy to be part of.”

    Melbourne-based Laneous agrees. “It’s always just fun doing sessions with Barney...he has a childlike enthusiasm for music that rubs off when recording with him.”

    Whilst the rhythm section tracks for the album were being laid down in Melbourne, Gary Bartz was in San Francisco in lockdown. “I had to show him the ropes of DAW recording over Zoom," says Barney. "I loved helping Gary, so he can actually be doing more sessions for people than ever before. It’s amazing; he’s this 81-year-old cat and he’s shedding more in lockdown than ever before!”

    “So, when Gary’s audio files would come in and I’d lay them in the tracks, the gravitas was immediately apparent. The amount of spirit and life that he puts through his horn is profound. It’s very rare today. It’s just incredible to have him on there. I’ve been playing with Gary for 20 years; he’s a real mentor for me so it’s a gift having him on the album.”

    Laneous features twice on Precious Energy, first channeling Funkadelic energy on the stand out ‘Wild Horses’ track, and appearing again on the spacey, funk anthem ‘Sun Rays’ alongside a stellar vocal performance from Rhythm Section artist and Hiatus Kaiyote backing vocalist Jace XL. At Barney’s insistence, Laneous recorded his guitar solo singing along with his exceptional guitar playing a la George Benson. Between the talkbox runs, waves of celestial synth lines, G-Funk riffs and heavenly chorus led by Rita Satch and Choir, the result is a sun-soaked theme park, something akin to a funk heaven.

    “Rita brings this incredible instrument that I have the privilege of working with,” says Barney. “We met at a gig one day and I was just spellbound. Her instrument is so profoundly beautiful and Belle is this absolute angel of a human, so she and Rita together is some potent medicine!”

    Julien Wilson, one of Australia’s most revered saxophonists, plays on the title track ‘Precious Energy’ and contributes a transcendental solo on ‘Sweet Water’. Barney describes Julien as “an incredibly respectful Celtic brother. He embodies all the twelve-tone diamond music but has a Boston pedigree too. He sounds exactly like how he is, loud and soulful.” He adds, “Jules feels a lot, he expresses all his feelings all at once, it’s remarkable.”

    Much of the Precious Energy album was created through the joy of simply hanging out, jamming with friends. Barney aspired to capture that natural flowing energy. “Through these processes and experiments I see a glint of light that I wouldn’t see otherwise, and I can use that,” he explains. “It's like being a lunatic scientist. It’s a way I can find things inside myself I didn’t know existed.”




    “I learned it experientially through playing with Bartz. Gary had recorded this song with Leon Thomas. For me, it speaks to a kind of post civil rights sort of spirit music that Pharoah Sanders, Gary and Leon Thomas and that whole crew created.”

    “These simple spiritual anthems like ‘The Creator Has A Master Plan’, were a tonic then and are a tonic now for the complexity of the world we’re living in. 'Precious Energy' has this simple, yet deep set of changes and there's a feeling of freedom, warmth, elation and love. When I hear Gary or Pharaoh play I hear sunshine pouring out like rays of gold, healing music. Like Gary says ‘We don’t make this music to make money, we make this music because it heals us and hopefully other people.’”

    The song was originally recorded in late 2019 for Barney's An Extra Celestial Christmas album. Simon Mavin had introduced Barney to Kawai DX800 organ: “I pressed this drum machine button and I thought it could sit well in 'Precious Energy'. I called in the North Coburg Community Choir to sing it in three-part harmony, and it became this song that really took me off on this whole journey.” After Covid emerged in 2020, “I began to think about the idea of precious energy and how crucial it is, in this day and age, and I ended up making a whole album spearheaded by that song.”


    Sweet Water was originally written for Nai Palm. Barney had run into Nai at a houseparty and she was wearing an Oshun shirt, the river spirit of the Yoruba religion. Barney was thinking about the healing priorities of these deities and they found their way into the lyrics. “I knew I also wanted to have these tempo shifts, so I recorded all these disparate pieces and cut them together so there would always be an element of surprise and unpredictability. One of the main things this song did was make the possibility of collaborating with the Melbourne scene a concrete reality. It was an example of me working with Melbourne artists and bringing what I had learnt in New York together into a contemporary lens.”

    Barney says the lyrics are “about a newfound respect for women. The idea that I have to dispense with my programming to understand the crucial nature of equality. In some ways it’s about my wife, recognising what love is, what it can be.”

    In addition to the Hiatus Kaiyote rhythm section and Laneous on guitar, Barney brought in Javier Fredes to play batá and percussion. Barney had known Javier through years of touring seasonally in Australia. Since those earlier times, Javier had been initiated as a priest in the Santeria religion. “I’ve really seen him work on himself through the precepts and stringent rules of Santeria and through this work, I’ve heard his playing become tenfold better, if that is even possible,” Barney says. “Javier's the real deal. A very spiritual being, he’s transmuting his life through his music; it’s all integrated, all the spiritual work and his music.”


    “It’s about inner freedom and the opening up that can occur when you can face your past and your demons. The basis of the song was created in the studio with Paul Bender, Simon Mavin and Ben Vanderwal. I had this piece of music with stacks of chords but Bender said ‘let’s try looping only this section and then we can vamp’. When Simon heard how it sounded coming out of this tiny little amp out the front of the studio he flipped out and we recorded it just like that on the spot.”

    “After the session, I continued to write over the top of it in one of those weird states we can get into when we’re making something, just this whirl of oblivion. When I got some perspective after the fact, I saw the lyrics are about how inner work can actually free you back to your essence. Then I had Laneous come into my studio and he just took it to the next level.”


    When Barney was the organist at a gospel church in Jamaica, Queens, he'd often write down the titles of hymns that struck him, and the chord changes that were most interesting. He realised at one point that it was Doris Akers who'd written many of the songs that touched him.

    “I love her music so much and I’d been playing it by myself ever since learning it in the church back in New York. One time I was rehearsing with Rita and Belle for this gospel gig, and I decided to add Coltrane changes to the hymn and then that’s when it really opened up. Gary Bartz loved the approach so much he wanted to make an album of hymns with Coltrane changes and use the song on his album!”


    “Many years ago at a restaurant gig in New York, I scribbled these chord changes down and said I’ll use these one day…After the ‘Sweet Water’ recording session, with some studio time left, we recorded two passes of the changes with Laneous, Javier, Perrin and Bender." Barney later found the session on a hard drive when piecing together the ‘Precious Energy’ album, and it became Sun Rays. “I wanted to showcase the energy of all those people in the room, just throwing down and vibing.”


    “I’d had these Stevie-like chords for a long time, but no lyrics. This was a long session in the studio jamming until we suddenly dropped into this moment where I lucked on to this clavinet part...the guys were playing so relaxed, and it became a groove that felt just so good. Once we had that, the whole song and lyrics just all opened up. Then we added Rita Satch, Jace XL and Belle Bangard and it really came to life.”

    “Y’know Stevie won’t be around forever, and when he's gone I’ll be incredibly sad, I mean who else has contributed so much beauty to this world, who has contributed more than Stevie Wonder?”

    “I wanted to honour Stevie, as everyone does!”


    “This song was from one of my favourite albums on Strata East Records, Glass Bead Games. I’ve been listening to that album since I was a teenager."

    "Dale Barlow told me about Glass Bead Games...he’d been playing with Art Blakey, and he came back to Australia and was aware of some more underground stuff that was loved in New York. That album just blew me away both compositionally and playing wise…”

    “Strata East is a symbol of autonomy for black-owned music. Those guys created this label, distributed it themselves and they took total ownership of their music. It was a very important statement of artistic independence. Bartz was playing with Charles Toliver, Stanley Cowell and all those people, and was involved in it on some level; he learned a lot from that whole movement.”

    “The song is so beautiful, Spike Lee’s father Bill Lee wrote it, and he also scored some of Spike’s films. He used to have this fantastic big band I’d go see in New York. I loved this song for so long and always wanted Gary to sing it.”

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John Coltrane
Black Spirit
John Coltrane
First new Born


from Precious Energy, released February 18, 2022


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Barney McAll New York, New York

Barney McAll is a Grammy nominated ARIA winning artist who has worked with luminaries such as ; Gary Bartz, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Monder, SIA, Daniel Merriweather, Maceo Parker, Fred Wesely and Dewey Redman. Barney has played on over 100 recordings and has 25 solo records. ... more

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