Liminal (Jex Saarelaht Trio)3 - Cover Liminal Square

Liminal is the new release from the Jex Saarelaht Trio, a set of six original pieces recorded live at the Esto-Cubist Jazz Festival, Bennetts Lane, in October 2013. 

Formed over twenty years ago, the trio (pianist /composer Jex Saarelaht, double bassist Philip Rex and drummer Niko Schäuble), has an association going back as far with the jazz club, also the location of their debut recording 'Fridays, Late'.


[ ‘…very bluesy, in its way, while suggesting outer space…I find this essentially late night music very beautiful, 

both ethereal and earthy, with a powerful sense of place.’ John Clare, Sydney Morning Herald

‘They ride, white knuckled, into testing, dramatic terrain, and do so with a pungency you can taste…this is one of the finest working bands in the land.  Their art is dense, black and majestic. But so is it thrillingly lyrical.’ Craig N. Pierce, The Drum Media ]

JST Promo




liminal  /’lImIn(É™)l/

1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process  

2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold   

3. of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : in-between, transitional 

< in the liminal state between life and death — Deborah Jowitt  >




In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold") is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes... The term has also passed into popular usage, where it is applied much more broadly, undermining its significance to some extent. - Wikipedia

At the risk of undermining its significance, Jex was thinking of the idea in terms of transition, musically in relation to ambiguity and disorientation, and the development of the written piece through the input/improvisation of the musicians involved, not just in one performance, but over time. The choice of title for the piece in particular was also prompted by friend and drummer Peter Jones’s situation after his diagnosis with brain cancer in early 2011, when he entered a liminal state for quite a while. Ultimately the music here is a snapshot of the trio in a transitional moment, in between everything that has come before in their twenty-years-plus together, and whatever may transpire and develop into the future.


...like three five-year-olds who just happen to have mastered instruments having fun... ’ - John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald



3 - OzCoSmall




*** Jazzhead and this project have been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Track Listing Show

  1. Closing
  2. Liminal (for Peter Jones)
  3. Five Nineteen
  4. Then Again
  5. Ivory Cutlery
  6. Fiveways
    All compositions by Jex Saarelaht