There is something truly formidable about the modern-day big-band, especially when the ensemble comprises some of Australia’s best jazz musicians performing today. Sunday night at The Foundry 616 saw the reemergence of Sydney-based ten-piece, Pharos, after a long and involuntary hiatus due to that wretched global pandemic.

Pharos performing at the Sydney International Women's Jazz Festival in 2020.

Pharos performing at the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival in 2020. Image © Shane Rozario.

The band, lead by bassist Hannah James, made their triumphant resurgence as part of the 2021 Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival, opening the evening with a composition by Silke Eberhardt, a former Artist-In-Residence at the festival. Kali Gillen plunged audiences into a broad, shimmering aura with her baritone sax, gathering the breadth and dynamism of Eberhardt’s unique, elliptical sounds through her grounded technique.

Trumpeter Louise Horwood shifted the mood in the packed house, opening the next piece with a haunting, spectral tone. The chilling start conjured images of a dark and brooding forest, somewhere in the middle of Norway — the enigmatic soundtrack to the opening credits of a Nordic film noir. A veil lifts half-way through, advancing the...