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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Jane Irving is one of Sydney’s most swingtastic singers. I’ve had the pleasure of performing and hanging out with her many times and she is one of my all time favourites.
Every Sunday you can check her out with her all star band “The Swinging Blades”  down at Marrickville Golf Club 3:30pm-6:30pm.
www.janeirving.com

Check it!!!

Here’s her top 3 albums:

Sarah Vaughan ‘Swingin’ Easy’.
The tracks on this CD are from two New York recordings. 1954 and 1957. John Malachi and Jimmy Jones piano; Joe Benjamin and Richard Davis bass and Roy Haynes drums.
~I first heard this album somewhere back in the early 80s in high school. It was my introduction to jazz singing. It completely blew my mind then and when I return to it now it’s the combination of interaction, quality of accompaniment and Sarah’s effortless singing style that I love. Swingin easy indeed. The thing I remember the most however, was hearing Sarah’s solo on All Of Me. A perfectly constructed solo, inventive, grooving and acrobatic. It was that precise moment that I fell in love with Sarah and made my decision to go about learning how to sing jazz. I knew I had a long road ahead of me but I was attracted to that beautiful mystery. I love her time, her humour, the range (hello!) and the willingness and confidence to really take a tune somewhere –not just sing the melody and be done with it. On this album Sarah’s personality shines beautifully bright –especially for someone who had only recorded once before with a small group, and in the 50’s her larynx was no-where near as close to the floor as in later years. There are some straight ahead tunes here, ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams’, ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’ and other tracks including a very swinging ‘You Hit The Spot’, ‘If I Knew Then’, ‘Words Can’t Describe’, ‘Linger Awhile’ and the opening track ‘Shulie a Bop’ (a tune that Sarah wrote with George Treadwell) -are tunes that I will forever associate with Sarah.

Mark Murphy ‘Kerouac, Then And Now’ 1989
Bill Mays piano; John Goldsby bass and Steve LaSpina bass; Adam Nussbaum drums.
~ Mark Murphy draws from the days of Jack Kerouac including readings from the ‘Big Sur’ and ‘On The Road’ both with rhythm accompaniment but
this is a pretty big album in terms of material. Mark says in the liner notes that people like Monk and Eddie Jefferson (who are also acknowledged in this album) “…all added a richness to the legacy of the Beats –and beyond. This legacy still is as hot today as it was then”. Well, Mark should know. He is jazz. Monk’s ‘Ask Me Now’ is so god damn groovy I can’t stand it and his singing on ‘The Night We Called It A Day’ is just sublime. Every single track on this record holds you, deeply invested in –what’s about to happen and there is a lot of ground covered. Mark is the ultimate story teller. His perspectives are totally unique and he goes to great lengths to get his point across over a lyric with the most beautiful phrasing – never the same, always giving every word the precise weight it deserves. Like a conversation. I’ve learned much from this record.

Sonny Stitt sits in with The Oscar Peterson Trio’
Two sessions1957 with Oscar; Ray Brown bass; Herb Ellis guitar; Stan Levey drums and 1959 with Oscar; Ray Brown bass and Ed Thigpen drums and Sonny on tenor and alto.
~This one swings it’s ass off, unwavering, right in the pocket. I’ve pretty much committed this album to memory – well, pretty much, ha! A tune that nobody does ‘The Gypsy’ was the killer for me. I’m sure that when instrumentalists know the lyrics to tunes, you can hear it in their blowing. Well, whether Sonny did or not, the soul and intent in this mans playing is extraordinary. This is pretty much a dream band and the vibe of both recordings is just so happening. ‘I Know That You Know’ is what I like to call stupid fast and they all get around it. Sonny with all those triplet rolls and the way he gets from one part of the horn to the other in half the blink of an eye, is so fluid. I think I’m gona take it for a spin right now… happy happy daze!

Later,
E. Dilla

P.S Coming up next – Kristen Beradi!!!

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Over the next few weeks I’m doing a favourite CD series with a few of my favourite vocalists that I’ve had the pleasure of playing with.
First up is the delightful Hannah Macklin who hails from Brisbane. We first met as finalists in the 2008 James Morrison Scholarship in Mount Gambier and I have been listening to a CD she recorded of her duo project with Steve Newcomb.
She is a wonderful, creative singer and I recommend you check her out at her Myspace.

Here’s what Hannah had to say about 4 of her favourite albums:

1. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

This was without a doubt the most-listened-to album of my high school years. I still listen to it frequently and love it; Lauryn’s tone is my favourite! “Every Ghetto, Every City” makes me want to wear high top sneakers and Afro combs and play in broken water mains, all the time. The tunes and grooves are so super solid and the lyrics are powerful and passionate and intelligent.. I don’t really need to explain it. It’s dope.

2. Bjork – Homogenic

It’s kind of hard to choose one Bjork album as the most influential… Bjork in general is a massive presence in my life! Musically, artistically, lyrically, everything. I think what sets Homogenic apart for me is the personal listening experience I had with it… at first I found the album cold and harsh, with tracks like “Hunter” and “Pluto” that really get up in your face and scream right through you. With each listen, though, the album softens and the incredible beauty of tracks “Joga” and “Unravel” becomes apparent, as does Bjork’s raw, soul-baring vocal and lyrical delivery. The arrangements and instrumentation are a constant source of inspiration – I love how she blends pure instrumentation with electronic programming – as are the off kilter grooves and leaping, soaring melodies… Just talking about it makes me want to listen to it right now.

3. Wayne Shorter Quartet – Beyond The Sound Barrier

I love the language and the conversations between the players on this album, little bits of information that gradually come together – it reminds me of a jigsaw puzzle, starting with all separate bits which move closer together to eventually make a whole scene. Wayne’s tone is of course beautiful – vibrant and joyous and always carving the direction for the band. This is inspiring as a solo voice and a band leader. There’s a particular phrase he plays on… I can’t remember which track, but it’s in my head right now, and I could base an entire song around it, it’s so packed with grit and substance.

4. Rufus Wainwright – Release The Stars

Again, it was a toss up between a couple of Rufus albums, but by the time Rufus released Release The Stars I was already a huge fan… and then I heard this, and my respect for him increased tenfold. The impact it had on me was huge. For me, Rufus writes songs that sound larger than life… and he is the master of tension and the slow build. I transcribed the orchestral arrangement on Do I Disappoint You for a uni assignment, and one day in the library whilst listening intently to the crux of the song, I found myself crying like a baby. Pretty embarrassing, but also completely amazing. His voice is an amazing, amazing instrument, and the songs on Release The Stars are for me, perfect pop songs.

Later,
E. Dilla

Next week: Jane Irving

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This week I asked Sydney drummer James Jennings to write about some of his influences and favourite albums. He is possibly one of the best dressed Jazz musicians in Sydney and while still studying at the Sydney Con, he has started to make waves around town. Check it out below:

Top 3 drummers:

Very difficult to List only 3 favorite Drummers as there are so many inspiring players out there. At the moment this would be my top 3 for various reasons.

#1 Brian Blade:

Anyone who knows me would definitely have guessed this as my Number 1 but for reasons everyone is aware of. Brian Blade is why i started to play jazz drums. Brian’s Drumming/musicality is so so so deep and can rival and match any of the greats in the past. So much of my inspiration has come from Brian. His groove touch and feel are all aspects i wish to absorb. When i was 16 i was handed Ryan Kisor’s battle cry, which Brian is on and from that moment i knew i had found a drummer/musician that i truly wanted to grasp. Brian’s versatility as a musician is also absolutely astounding. Be it grooving with Sam Yahel, swinging with Joshua Redman, creating timeless art with Wayne shorter or getting his rock on with Black Dub, Joni Mitchell and Seal. He brings so much history present and future to every stroke he applies to a drum/cymbal.

Bill Stewart:

In my opinion Bill Stewart has changed the way Modern Drummers thing about playing jazz. His sense of phrasing among the limbs is amazing as well as the understanding of the ride cymbal as not only a time keeping devise but a creation of colour.The way Bill has taken from the masters of the past is also inspiring. You can definitely hear the history with large amounts of Roy Haynes ha.The very first album i heard bill on was John Scofield’s What We Do. His creativeness and undeniable groove blew me away! i still listen to that album a lot and still find new things every time which in my opinion is a true sign of a master.

?queslove:

Lately i have really been checking out a fare amount of Hip hop soul and r&b.?uestlove has the best time feel. Its CRAZY!. I really think checking out and really listening to hip hop and r&b is on of the best ways to get your time feel happening in any genre. Drummers such as Spanky, Steve Jordan, Chris “daddy” Dave, Eric Tribbett, Aaron Spears, Gerland Heyward, are just some of the drummers i’m checking out in this genre.

Ok so i cant leave off Eric Harland:

Eric is my biggest inspiration right now. His articulation on the drum set is out of this world. His power intensity and GROOVE are all things i want for my playing. His compositions and arrangements are also amazing. His Arrangement of Monk’s I mean you played with SFJazz Collective is a perfect example of this. Also his total musical support towards other musicians and the music is what makes him one of the most happening and sort after drummers of today.

Other drummers that I’m checking out at the moment include:

Kendrick Scott,Jeff Ballard, Mark Guiliana,Matt Chamberland,Felix Bloxsom Nate Smith, Billy Kilson, James waples,Jorge Rossy, Roy Haynes, Jack Dejohonette, Jochen Rueckert.

Note:

I know all 4 of my Picks have been recently “modern” drummers as HIGHLY important as it is to look back on the MASTERS of jazz music and the art of jazz i think it’s also equally as important to listen and check out the new things that are happening in the world of music around us in present times.

3 fav Youtube videos:

Kendrick scott:

Christopher Hitchens:

Wayne Shorter Quartet:

Favourite Albums:

Kurt Rosenwinkle’s The Remedy:

Aaron Goldberg- Piano

Eric Harland- Drums

Joe Martin-Bass

Mark Tuner- sax

This album is just full of raw hardcore energy and inspirational solos form all players. This for me is the perfect example of Eric’s musical support to the band. Kurt’s compositions are also jaw dropping.

Chris Potter’s Gratitude:

Brian Blade-Drums

Scott Colley- Bass

Kevin Hayes –Keys

This Album really hit home to me with how truly amazing Brian Blade is. His groove on this album, on every tune is rock solid but not in a rhythmical pattern way. He could be breaking up the beat without loosing any sense of the groove what so ever!! I also really like Scott Coley on this album and of course Chris Potter is just killing!

Wayne Shorter’s Footprints Live:

Brian Blade-Drums

Wayne Shorter- sax

Danilo Perez- Piano

John Patitucci- Bass

This album is my example of how a band can work together to create something that has never been heard before. All members’ are virtuosos of their instruments but not for a second dose ego or selfishness entre the music. They are all there 100% for one anther and the music!! P.S Brian Blade is bubbling intensity GOD.

Brad Mehldau’s largo and Live in Tokyo:

Largo is one of my favorite albums I can put on and just simply listen to with out my brain trying to over analyse. The Producing on this album is wicked.

Live in Tokyo I think truly shows what a amazing musician brad is.He makes the piano sound like a 80 piece orchestra with not a hint of physical effort. The way he can build and maintain and solo on this album is another aspect why I choose it for my Top list.

and

Zubin Mehta Conducting L.A Philharmonic Orchestra Playing Dvorak’s New World symphony #9

Later,
E Dilla

P.S check out James with Mike Nock, Karl Laskowski and Alex Boneham at 505 on Saturday

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Mike Rivett hails from Cairns, studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, then moved to Tokyo (married) and is now about to finish a Masters Degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York. He was a few years above me at University and I only got to see him play a few times but last year while I was in New York I met him, hung out and made some music. He is an amazing saxophonist and one of those guys whose always willing to share information. Each time i saw him he’d show me a new idea he’s working on and even got me into one of his classes at MSM with Phil Markowitz. I sent him a few questions via email recently, as he’s someone who has inspired me greatly. Click here for his MySpace

1. You’ve lived in Cairns, Sydney, Tokyo and New York. Can you describe the transitions moving cities and trying to play music?

Moving to Cairns was great for me.  It gave me a chance to really study electronic music production.  I built a studio in my parent’s basement and acoustically treated it on the cheap- making acoustic panels out of rock-wool, caneite and frontrunner.  While I was there I studied various books such as “Mixing with your Mind”, “The Visual Guide to Mixing” and a bunch of other things I can’t remember off the top of my head. I got totally obsessed with it.

As far as playing went, there wasn’t much – a couple of functions here and there and the occasional cafe gig.  There was only really one other musician there that I dug playing with- Andre’ Houghton- a Guitarist that studied at Berklee.

Teaching was easy.  In a small town it’s easy to be “the man” as a musician.. I ended up teaching woodwind at a school and a bunch of private students- sax, piano, flute and clarinet. But of course I got bored with not playing serious music all the time.  As well as this I missed my girlfriend (now wife) who was living in Tokyo.

Next came the Tokyo stint.  This was a tough one- initially at least.  First came debt.  I was trying to find the ideal english teaching job- something that paid well and had flexible hours so I could still gig.  It took longer than I expected- thus the debt.  But eventually I settled on GABA corp- they had flexible hours… one out of two ain’t bad.

In terms of playing I was limited to what Ko (my good friend from Sydney who is bilingual in English and Japanese) would book me for, as in the beginning I couldn’t speak any Japanese.  However, as the time went on I picked up more and more and got to the stage where I could have very simple conversations in Japanese and thus could book some of my own stuff.   I ended up doing pretty well in Tokyo as far as playing at cool clubs with cool musicians went, but there was almost no money.  Most clubs offer a door deal.  So the english teaching job was essential.  If I was fluent in Japanese I could have taught music for a much higher rate- but that’s how it was.

While I was there I also started a record label with my friend Andre from Cairns, who eventually moved to Tokyo to live with my girlfriend and me.  The label is a minimal techno label and is called “Primpy Records” www.primpyrecords.com

Lots of fun.. silly… but fun.   We made a 12″vinyl and released also on all the digital platforms such as beatport etc.

Tokyo was a super positive experience and I wholeheartedly recommend doing what I did.  Possibly the best 2 years of my life.

Next came NY.  This is still happening but so far has been really intense, lots of study and practice- but I have learned a lot and made some great friends.  This school is the absolute bomb but really expensive.  With no scholarship it is US 100 grand including living expense for 2 years.  I managed to get a small scholarship- the president’s award.  I have been lucky enough to have my parents pay the difference.

2. Can you tell us about studying at Manhattan School of Music? What was the audition process like – demands, requirements – and the kinds of classes you undertake.

First you send a CD of “Billie’s Bounce” and a couple of other standards.  This is the prescreening process.  Then, if they like you, you get offered a live audition.  I sent a DVD audition from Tokyo which had 10 standards on it.

We take Improv, Jazz Styles, Piano, Ear Training, History, Arranging and Pedagogy.  There are many other electives too.  There has been a lot of composition involved. We have to write a tune a week for improv and write a more serious composition about once a month for Jazz Styles as well as writing solos and performing them for the class.  The requirements for improv are ridiculous.  Hexatonics, Pentatonics, approach notes through a progression in 4, 5, and 7/4, structures e.g. 1, 2, 6, b9 , structures with chromatic approach- i.e Maj. third above and below of the 1st note of the structure.. so in C it would be E, Ab, C, D, A, Db.  Then we do every possible approach up to a Maj. 7th.  Now we are working on countdown in 12keys with various patterns.  E.g.- chromatic below, scale above, chord-tone, chord-tone.  so for Emin7 it could be- F#, A, G, B..etc etc.

3. Who have you been learning from and what are some of the teachings they have imparted on you?

I’ve been studying triadic chromatic approach with George Garzone intensely for the last few years, even before MSM.  This is the secret weapon. Come and take a lesson if you want to get into it hahaha.  Takes a bit of explaining.

I’ve been studying bebop with Garry Dial.  Learning how to take the line from anywhere in the scale and knowing all the possibilities to play totally inside but really chromatically (tonal chromaticism).

With Lieb [Dave Liebman] and Phil Markowitz we learn more non-tonal chromaticism.  Again.. it would take a while to explain..

4. About a year ago in New York, we were discussing ‘developing your own sound’ and at the time what you were working on. (triadic approach to improvising) How has this developed since and if changed, what is your concept towards working on developing your own sound.

(For me) Developing your own sound means playing only things you like and filtering out the stuff you hate.  It’s about having enough musicianship to then execute those decisions.  In terms of the saxophone getting your own sound is inevitable as no one has the same mouth. But it’s all about hearing something and trying to achieve that.  You also need a concept for how in or out you want to be- how pretty, or how aggressive you know. I think it really starts by listening to cats and thinking to yourself, “I would have done that differently”  or ” I like that, I’m going to steal that”.

5. What projects are you currently working on?

I just recorded a CD with this drummer from Austria- Peter Kronreif.  He’s bringing some other cats and me out to Europe in March for a tour to promote the record.

I have an organ trio of my own.. We are going to record in late Feb.  The music has interesting harmony but is melodic as well.  We are trying to make it as interactive as we can.

I’m also playing in Dan Jamieson’s big band.  We are going to record at the end of May with John Riley on drums.  The music is a mixture of straight ahead and more chromatic, experimental sounds.

I also have a rock band that I just started writing for.  It’s the band that plays after the jazz guys when everyone wants to drink and party.. always fun to be in that band you know haha.  It has a few notey heads, which is unavoidable for a jazz geek like me, but the bulk of it is filthy grooves that would make you want to “have another beer and possible get the courage to go and talk to that chick over there.”

6. Who are some musicians we may not know about here in Sydney but should check out?

All the cats at this school.  Don’t worry you’ll hear about them.  Give it 5 years they’ll be the new cats.   But as far as pros on the scene:  I really like Ari Hoenig’s band with Gilad Hekselman and Orlando Le Flemming and Tigran Hamasyan. That music is SO INTERACTIVE.. it’s what we would all dream of achieving.  It is real jazz.  Totally open, anything can happen, but the architecture is strong and the form perfectly adhered to.

Later,

E Dilla

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Meet the Casey Golden Trio.
I’ve known all these guys for years and grew up playing music with the drummer, Rob Turner. Last night they played a smokin’ gig at 505 and I’ve uploaded two tracks that you can check out. There’ll be a debut record coming out later this year which is being recorded as I type and if you can, you should definitely give these guys a listen. A few weeks ago I spoke to Casey about doing a feature on his band and so here it is, in his own words.

When we first started playing together I wasn’t really thinking about forming a band too much. I met both Brendan and Rob on non-jazz gigs so we decided to get together and have a play on some jazz stuff one day. I remember thinking at the time how easy it was to play with these guys. It felt really good from the beginning. Around that time (mid 2008) I’d started writing a lot more than I had been before and it just seemed like a natural choice to use Brendan and Rob on some of my original tunes. We all have pretty eclectic tastes in music but there is a lot of crossover between the three of us in favourite bands/records/musicians and this is part of why I like playing with these guys. I’ll often bring tunes to rehearsal that are unfinished or vague and it never takes these guys long to come up with the sound I’m after.

From a compositional point of view, my main influence comes from a lot of the younger guys living in New York at the moment. Guys like Aaron Parks, Robert Glasper, Lage Lund, John Ellis, Gerald Clayton, the list goes on. I think all the guys mentioned above are great composers and they all have a really clear concept of how they want their bands to sound. I have a pretty clear idea of how I want the trio to sound and that sound is very much influenced by these people. Alister Spence is another important influence. I used to learn from Alister and he was one of the first people I saw who really impressed me as both a composer and player. He’s got a great trio and I think he’s very thoughtful in both composition and in his concept of the type of music his trio plays. All this being said, as far as inspiration goes, these days I seem to be inspired to compose by music other than jazz.

The hardest thing leading a group is really doing enough gigs so your band has some sort of a presence on the scene. There aren’t a huge amount of well-established places to play original jazz in Sydney so it can be difficult to get regular work. I try and continually write new stuff, so if I don’t have any trio gigs for a month or two then it’s still very much on my mind. Having a lot of new material all the time also motivates me to go out and book gigs to see what works and what doesn’t.

The main thing I’m focused on at the moment is getting everything sorted for recording our album. We’re recording in February and hope to have it out a bit later in the year. We’ve got a couple of gigs booked over the next month or two then we’ll do a bunch more when the record comes out. Buy our record.

Casey:

Favourite YouTube Video:
Best live gig seen: Aaron Goldberg Trio at the Sound Lounge, mid 2008
Seamus Blake Quintet w/ Kikoski, Lage, Matt Clohesy and Bill Stewart at Smalls, Feb 2009

Favourite album: Too hard to say, but for what I’ve been listening to over the last few months it’d be between:
Matt Penman – Catch of the Day,
Gerald Clayton – Two Shade and
David Binney and Edward Simon – Oceanos.

Rob:

Favourite YouTube Video:
Best live gig seen: Too hard to decide on one! Short List -
Ed Simon Trio (w/ John Patitucci & Brian Blade) @ The Village Vanguard, NYC
Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra @ North Sea Jazz Festival, The Hague
Chris “Daddy” Dave & Friends, Revive Da Live @ Crash Mansion, NYC
Favourite Album: Oscar Peterson Trio – Night Train
(Favourite album of 2009 – Robert Glasper Trio, Double Booked)

Brendan:
Favourite YouTube Video:
Best live gig seen: The Necks at the Riverside Theatre. I couldn’t even manage to stay for the second set, it was that intense!
Favourite Album: Too many to count, but I’ll say Sam Rivers – Violet Violets

Later,
Eamon

P.S. Check out this great track from last night:

Also make sure you check out Casey’s Myspace for updates about gigs and the new album.

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This week we have a bit of a drummer’s feature with an interview with ex-pat Adam Pache and a top 5 list with Simon Barker. The first time I met and played with Adam was when I was 16 in about 2003 when I used to sit in with Matt Baker’s trio when Adam was playing with him and Ashley Turner. I remember being awestruck by those guys and always looked forward to getting a chance to play with them. Since then we’ve had a few jams and always at least a year apart and its always how things have changed and developed with time and experience. Adam has spent 4 of the last 5 years living in New York and currently resides in Italy and has been playing with saxophonist Steve Grossman. He’s currently out here on tour leading a quartet with James Muller, Gerard Masters, Steve Newcombe and Jonathan Zwartz. I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the experiences of leaving Australia and making music in other parts of the world.

Here it is:

1.Tell us about the music on this latest tour.

We are playing songs I chose, largely based on the personnel. I was extremely glad that James Muller and Jonathan Zwartz could do all of the gigs, and the piano chair is split between Gerard Masters in Sydney and Steve Newcomb in Brisbane. I tried to imagine what the music might sound like as a group, and I ended up thinking of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane… tunes that have an in-built vibe but are still open, such as “Pinocchio” and “The Sorcerer”. With that as a base I added some other tunes, old and new (from Billy Strayhorn to an original by a Norwegian friend of mine) that I thought would fit that mould and make sense together.

2. You’ve lived in Sydney, New York and Rome making music. What have been some of the experiences of making a transition into a new city and new scene?

For me, the move from Sydney to New York was much harder than New York to Rome, despite having to learn Italian. New York’s jazz scene is so immense and so competitive to try to break into. In Sydney and Rome I feel like there is a sense of a “jazz community”… everyone knows each other and is supportive, whereas in New York I feel there are many, many different cliques, so it takes some time to work out where one fits in, and while there is a mutual respect for each other, as everyone is battling to survive there, it can be very cut-throat. I had a few close musician friends there, but I think due to the enormity of the scene and how busy everyone is with making ends meet, it can be hard to build relationships that go deeper than just knowing the person’s phone number, where they live, what they sound like and who they play with, even after more than 4 years there. By comparison, I found the musicians in Italy to be extremely warm and welcoming and I made friends instantly the night I arrived. After only 8 months there I have some friends that are truly like family… People I know I could trust with anything and I could always call on for help. That really makes a difference.
I also think in New York you have to play the game to work. You have to hustle. I haven’t felt that in Italy. It’s more like you hang out, go to jams, make friends with people and you end up playing. It’s more natural and based on genuine relationships. Hustling on a New York level there would seem really crass and out of place. It makes it easier to concentrate on music, not having to deal with playing games in order to work. Of course politics exist in any music scene, but so far that has been my experience there.
I have realised that as a musician, the ease or difficulty in moving to a new city/country/scene is actually less to do with music and more to do with people. If you like a city and a music scene enough to move there, the people are what can make it or break it for you.

3. What do you notice about audiences around the world and their responses to jazz and improvised music?

It varies so much, and I think it largely depends on how the music is presented. One thing that I think can really be detrimental to jazz is when somebody gives a speech at the beginning of a gig about how important the music is and how everyone should be quiet and respect the artists etc. It can strangle the music and make the audience feel like they are in a classroom. I would much rather play to a room full of people enjoying themselves, even with a bit of chatter, than a room full of people feeling like they have to wait for the song to end before they can cough. I think it’s one of the big turn offs for young would-be jazz listeners and helps to perpetuate this notion that jazz is for elitists. It’s hard to relax and have a good time at a gig after you’ve been told all of the things you can and can’t do. I think no matter what country you are in, if the music is presented in an honest, down to earth manner, played with conviction and passion, people respond in a positive way. Not every playing situation is perfect, and not everyone will like what you do, but I think if you can play with enough spirit, you command attention, and conversely if the audience is restless and chatty, maybe it’s a sign you are not putting out enough (or maybe the music is lame!)
Having said that, I think people in Europe generally have more respect for musicians. They seem to appreciate people playing music for them without being told to appreciate it.

4. Who are some of the European musicians worth checking out that we may not know about?


There are many!! The first that jumps to mind is Roberto Tarenzi (from Milan). He is one of the most exciting and original piano young players that I know of. He is influenced by McCoy Tyner and Ahmad Jamal but is really going for something else… something very contemporary. I would love to see his trio tour Australia… the members are all on an extremely high level. He has a few CD’s out and I would highly recommend his latest, “Dig Deep”.
There are some great young drummers in Rome worth checking out too: Roberto Pistolesi, Nicola Angelucci and Marco Valeri are my three favourites. All have incredible dexterity on the drums and an individual approach.

5. What are you working on right now?

I am getting back into studying harmony and playing the piano and trying to write some of my own music. I would really like to record an album of originals within the next year or so.
On the drums the list is long, but basically I am trying to refine my technique, so I can cleanly execute what I am hearing in my head, and I’m trying to focus more onstage and play with as much spirit as I can, every time I play. Playing with Steve Grossman has really been a big lesson in that. He plays with so much intensity… there is no room for auto-pilot… he demands 100% all of the time. I feel like anything less is an insult, not only to him but to the music, and I would like to carry that level of commitment through to every playing situation, no matter who it is with or where.

5 in 30 seconds:

Favourite YouTube Video:
Best Gig you’ve seen: Elvin Jones, 2002
Best gig you’ve played: with Steve Grossman in Ischia, Dec 2009.
Current favourite artist and album: Herbie Hancock – Speak Like A Child
Where can we see you next? at the new 505 venue for Jazzgroove this Tuesday the 16th at 8:30.

Later,
Eamon

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One of the things I’ve wanted to do with the blog is not only put up articles about my peers but also put up interviews with some of the people who have inspired us to make music.
I sat down with guitarist Carl Morgan a few weeks ago to come up with the following series of questions to ask Sydney based Guitarist James Muller.
Here’s what he said:

What motivates you to keep practicing/disciplining yourself to continue working on furthering your craft?

A lot of it is being inspired by other musicians, especially my contemporaries and the new-breed. I get jealous sometimes when I hear my friends sounding better than me. Ha. I don’t want to be left behind sounding old and lame! Also, I get bored playing the same old stuff.

What are some of the ways you’ve approached working on time/feel?

Mainly, it’s just something I’m always aware of rather than working on specific things. I’m more conscious of time than harmony or melody. It’s the most important component of jazz, I think. I play little rhythmic games when I practise – usually just picking a tempo and then subdividing the beat in different ways. I like going up and down through quavers, quaver triplets, semiquavers, semiquaver quintuplets and semiquaver sextuplets. Then I try and mix them all up randomly. Also, dividing regular quavers/semiquavers into odd groupings 3/5/6/7/9 etc… All of these things really help your basic 4/4 playing. Feel, is different. It’s harder to work on. I listen to players with great feels and try and analyse what it is that makes their feel great. Usually, it’s about the way they accent certain notes and where the lay on the beat, but it’s also the shape of the melodic line itself that makes it feel groovy or not. I don’t think you can play any old bunch of notes and make it swing, no matter how good your time feel is. The way the notes are arranged is really important (and the rests too!). It’s taken me a long time to figure that out…

What are some of the key aspects that you feel are most important for younger aspiring musicians to work on?

If you’re a pianist or guitarist – COMPING. I’ve only really just started to get into that. What a fool I’ve been. It’s so important to learn how to do well. Transcribe comping as well as solos…

Business skills! I’m not kidding. I still have no idea with that stuff and I really regret not learning more about it. Hopefully it’s not too late.

Are there any bands or musicians (of any genre) you’ve recently discovered that are challenging or inspiring you to think differently about music and improvisation? If so, what aspects and/or ideas have you drawn from them?

At the moment I’m on an Allan Holdsworth kick. He is a real genius. Listening to him has totally reinvigorated my practising. The way he constructs lines and chords is incredible and completely unique and I think everyone should be checking him out. He’s as heavy as Coltrane, I think. He has changed music. Sean Wayland is a constant source of inspiration. Simon Barker has some great views on music and life. I guess I haven’t “recently discovered” these guys technically speaking. All of these guys are really methodical about the way they practise and learn. I have always been really erratic and just noodled for practise which I guess works to a certain degree but it’s time for me to actually start thinking about precisely what I want.

How has living in Australia affected your development as a musician?

That’s hard. I could be nasty and say “adversely”. There is some incredible talent here and Australia it’s a wonderful place to live but I can’t help thinking we all (jazz musos) would be better off living in the US or Europe. We would be better players and might be a lot better off financially, certainly artistically. It’s not the musicians’ fault really. The more I think about it the darker I get about the way we are viewed by the general public over here. Still, there are many worse places to be.

You recently completed a tour with Sean Wayland’s band featuring Mark Guilliana. Can you tell us about your history with Sean and some of the highlights of the projects of his that you’ve been involved in?

Sean started booking me for gigs in 1997, a year or so after I moved to Sydney from Adelaide. Soon after I was in pretty well all of his subsequent groups right up until he left to live in NY. I’m not sure why he kept me on. I think initially he was impressed with my playing but later it became just as much about having a friend around that respected his music/vision. I think that’s a big part of why I played on his most recent US recordings. I think having another Aussie around experiencing these great rhythm sections and horn players is important to him. It’s great for me!! It’s been amazing to watch Sean develop so consistently over the years. He is one of the great thinkers and problem-solvers in music today, I think. As far as highlights go, the most exciting/fun gigs I did were when Sean brought out Jochen Rueckert and Matt Penman from NY in 2002. That was my first taste of a top-notch modern American rhythm section and I was in HEAVEN! I have recordings of those gigs. Really great experience. I did a couple of gigs at the 55 bar with Sean in 2007 with some great players – Will Vinson, Orlando La Fleming, Henry Cole, Rudy Royston. Matt Clohesy – they were awesome fun too. As soon as I get in the studio though, I can’t enjoy myself. Playing with Keith Carlock, Tim Lebvre and Adam Rogers on the Pistachio CD was great but I couldn’t relax. I wish we did a gig. There were Aussie highlights too – recording with Sean, Nick McBride and Brett Hirst in “the shed” – Sean’s old house in Jarrett St, Leichhardt. My amp was in Nick’s car in the driveway, turned up to 11, Brett was with the double bass in the bathroom and Nick in sean’s bedroom. The only way sean could communicate with the other guys was to speak “live” arrangement instructions into a microphone which came out on the recording! It actually sounded pretty good!!

What are you working on right now?

Chords. Trying to comp better. Trying to remove other people’s licks from my playing..it’s EMBARRASSING when I hear myself do it these days. It will stop!!

5 questions in 30 seconds

Favourite Youtube Video :
Best live gig you’ve seen: John Scofield with Larry Goldings, Dennis Irwin and Bill Stewart @ The Basement Jan 1995.
Best gig you’ve played: Hmm Sean Wayland, Matt Penman, Jochen Rueckert @ Coogee Beach Jan 2002
Current favourite album: Allan Holdsworth “The Sixteen Men Of Tain”
Where can we see you play next? Feb 6 @ the Walsh Bay Jazz Festival and Mar5/6 @ 505.

Later,
Eamon (and Carl)

P.S check out James Muller at www.jamesmuller.com

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John Hibbard asked me to compile a list of 10 cds that have influenced me the most so i thought id share it here too.

• Miles Davis – 64 Concert My Funny Valentine

My housemate and I recently acquired the record of this concert and for the first 3 weeks in our new place listened to it over and over again every night. I can’t get over how the rhythm section reacts to every solo keeping things fresh and exciting. The way Ron and Tony make decisions about feel and direction makes the solos so exciting. Herbie’s solo on All Of You is possibly one of the greatest on record. The way this band interacts is one of the major inspirations for the Dilworths.

• Terence Blanchard – Flow

Terence is one of my living idols. He has a big glorious sound and plays with such conviction and freedom that transcends the notes and harmony to which he’s playing over. The rhythm section on this record, Aaron Parks, Lionel Loueke, Derrick Hodge and Kendrick Scott, work so well in creating a bed for the soloist to improvise upon and help propel the music forwards. To me this band is like the 60s Miles band of today, always searching and making such a high level of music. There’s also a great live gig from the Village Vanguard you can download from the website.

• Sonny Stitt – Sits in with the Oscar Peterson Trio

Back when I was 16 I had my first band and it was before copying hundreds of gigabytes of music from other people iTunes and I remember that this disc was getting passed around us. I think it was Alex Boneham’s originally and by the time it got through the band and to me it was fairly scratched (it was getting passed around without a case). For the 4 of us at the time this album was our life and only recently i managed to find it in a store in New York second hand. Man, this album is like the definition of straight ahead feel good swing. The kind of music that puts a smile on your face.

• Ryan Kisor – Battlecry

When I first started learning with Phil Slater he gave me a whole bunch of albums on an Mp3 disc, and most of them I had never heard of. I took a random pick and this album came up and it was one of the first I could sing along to start to finish. Its a straight ahead record with Sam Yahel on Organ, Peter Bernstein and Brian Blade. Kisor is an unbelievable trumpet player and the lines he plays are almost compositionally perfect.

• Hancock/Hargrove/Brecker – Directions in Music

This was the first “modern jazz” albums I got into. It’s a live album with Roy Hargrove, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock, John Patitucci and Brian Blade doing a tribute to Miles Davis and John Coltrane. I remember loving the sound and intensity they all played with but having no idea what was going on with forms and harmony. Every time I getting the CD out I still find it so exciting and spontaneous.

• Kenny Dorham – Quiet Kenny

Phil Slater told me this was a must have so I ordered it from Amazon and from the first moment was hooked. Kenny is quite understated and gets such interesting colours out of his horn. Every track on this swings and Paul Chambers and Art Taylor create that feeling on 2 & 4 where I guess they coined the phrase “In the pocket.” There are so many great recordings from 1959 and this is certainly one of them!

• Dvorak – New World Symphony

I heard the London Symphony play this live earlier this year and then permanently borrowed the CD from my girlfriend. This work has largely influence my writing in placing more emphasis upon themes and development from the material you already have. So much of it is built upon one melodic idea and passed throughout the orchestra. This idea has simplified my approach to writing new tunes.

• Avishai Cohen – Continuo

This album has a great sound, energy and one of the best bass sounds on record. I went through a phase of checking out the Jewish New York scene, guys like Avishai Cohen (Trumpet), Omer Avital and Jason Lindner. There’s something very accessible about the music these guys produce, a lot based around the harmonic minor scale modes and rhythmically really groovy but mixed with virtuosic technique making complicated stuff sound simple.

• Ambrose Akinmusire – Prelude to Cora

I spent some time hanging out with Ambrose in New York and recently when he was out and he has been a big inspiration for me. He got me thinking about having my own concept and thinking about my sound and where I wanted to head with it in the future. I really dig this album for its writing and the way an overall mood is created throughout.

• Matt McMahon – Paths and Streams

The guys on this CD are local heroes of mine. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them live many times and had many conversations about music with Matt and Phil Slater. I saw the release of this album at the Studio and was blown away by the beauty and space these guys created. I bought the CD and went home and listened to it twice that night.

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This interview is taken from the December 2009 issue of FINE Music Magazine.

Interview by Chris Rhule

How did you first start playing music and what instruments did you play?

My mother started a school band program that my older brother and sister went through, so when I got to year 2 it was decided I’d learn the violin, then later the Trumpet, double Bass and French horn. At one point i was playing the horn and trumpet in concert band at the same time!

How did the trumpet become your instrument of choice?

I hadn’t had as much formal training on the trumpet and perhaps that was what made me want to drop the other instruments. Playing trumpet meant playing in the Stage Band and when i was in year 6 i formed my first jazz group and so i guess i was attracted to performing solo more than hiding up the back of a concert band.

What were some of your first musical influences?

I remember going to James Morrison concerts at the Opera House and falling asleep on the floor, but i think he was one of the first people to really inspire me to play music for a living. His brother John has been something of a mentor to me over the years and they demonstrated how music could be enjoyable and entertaining. Later I met Phil Slater and Warwick Alder, which is when I started discovering more modern and improvised music which largely influences me today.

You are currently studying at the Sydney Conservatorium Of Music.

Can you describe that experience?

Perhaps the greatest thing, as I near the end of the degree is the musical friendships I’ve developed with people. My peers have been Alex Boneham, Steve Barry, James Jennings and Jeremy Rose and they have as much as the teachers inspired me to write and play improvised music. The con provides us with teachers to guide us and the facilities to allow us to make hours and hours of music.

Who are some of the local musicians and teachers who have influenced and inspired you?

Mike Nock has been very supportive towards me and in support of the Dilworths from the first day he heard the band almost 2 years ago. Along with Mike, Judy Bailey, Dale Barlow and Phil Slater I feel have help shape my views and direction in music.

Is there a particular style of jazz that you would like to concentrate on in the future?

One of the things I like about jazz not being a mainstream music is that there aren’t enough gigs to be playing with the same band night after night so therefore you find yourself playing in all different styles so right now i have no idea what style in the future I’d like to play. I love sitting in at Unity Hall and playing Jazzgroove so at the moment I guess im in a place where id like to absorb lots of different styles which hopefully in turn will help shape a sound for me in the future

You have also played in groups like Kid Confucius and Beautiful Girls. How do you find that experience playing in a broader musical spectrum.

There is a different playing demand in pop music. Improvising and soloing comes second, the challenge is night after night to be able to play with a high intensity and nail the parts exactly like the record as the thousands of fans expect to hear. Those bands were the first time id played to crowds in the thousands!

How do you find the current music scene in Sydney, particularly as it relates to jazz?

There’s so many great musicians and bands around which is super healthy regarding the scene. There are a few venues with weekly gigs and others come and go. I guess the biggest challenge we have trying to play jazz is getting the money in from the punters so that the venue operators stay happy.

You have played at some of the great overseas Jazz Festivals. Can you tell us about those experiences?

I was lucky enough to be a part of the Australian All Star Youth big band in 2004 and 2005 which gave me the opportunity to go to Montreaux, Monterey and North Sea Jazz festivals. I was able to see Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Kenny Wheeler and so many more big names so it was such a great chance to be exposed to some of the top music in the world.

Your current musical project is The Dilworths. How did this group come together and tell us about the musicians you have assembled?

After my first New York experience i was so inspired after being there for 6 weeks that I decided I needed to start my own band with guys that were going to push me to play better. I called the best players I had ever met at the time and fortunately they agreed to get together and it was an instant vibe that we had to keep playing together. Karl’s been one of my favourite players for years and have always been inspired by the energy he can create when he plays. Alex and I have been playing together since we were 13 so naturally i added him and when put together with Hugh and Cam they make one of the most supportive an attentive rhythm sections in town. These guys are more than just band members, they are my brothers!

You are launching your new album for Jazzgroove this month. Tell us about the music on that album?

This is high energy, highly interactive jazz. They are all tunes I’ve written over the last two years and are inspired by the energy and vibe I discovered whilst hanging in New York seeing music every night.

Ideally, where would you like to see your music career heading in the future?

Next year will see the band doing some touring, and i will spend 3-4 months overseas on a scholarship from the Big Brother foundation where I plan to play with as many different people as I can in New York and Europe. Further than that I have no idea but hope it’ll involve making music with many more people.

-Eamon

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