Posts Tagged ‘australian jazz’

Last night I caught the first set of one of my best mates – Steve Barry. For those who haven’t heard this Kiwi now Petersham based piano player, he’s one of the best around.

His trio with Dilworths Alex Boneham and Cameron Reid played a great gig at 505 and here’s one of the tracks. enjoy!



P.S check out his top 5 influences list here

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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.


E Dilla

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This week we have Simon Ferenci’s main musical influences. Ferenci is one of the trumpeters in the generation before me (by that I mean a few years older) that I drew a lot of inspiration from. I first heard him play in Judy Bailey’s Jazz Connection and since then we have played many times together in various big bands and recently more frequently in a Mariachi Band. Ferenci can be heard with his own group ‘Simon Ferenci Quartet’, ‘Doig Collective’, ‘Watussi’ and ‘The Beautiful Girls’. Check out his Myspace and hear what he does!

Here are some musical influences of mine (in roughly chronological order).

Lee Morgan

Hearing Lee Morgan was what really got me into jazz – I’d heard some other recordings before but none of them had the impact that he did right from the first note. The first album I heard him on was “Blue Train” (thanks to Scott Simpkins), but not long after that I heard his own album “The Gigolo” which is still one of my favourites. I also really like “Live at the Lighthouse” (the 2CD Fresh Sound one). So raw and dirty but it just sounds so good.

Miles Davis

I love Miles Davis’ playing but he also had a great ability to bring together some really great combinations of musicians (I think Dave Douglas is another musician who is really good at this). The quintet with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams is probably my favourite band of all time – I love the way that they play together, sometimes going with the soloist and sometimes playing against each other. Also the freedom they have within a composition. I think the tunes “Country Son” and “Black Comedy” from “Miles in the Sky” are probably the two tunes I’ve listened to more than any others – and I still can’t believe what Tony plays!

Chris Speed/Jim Black (I reckon they count as one influence… it’s hard keeping the list down to 5!)

I went through a period where I listened to hardly anything else. ‘Alasnoaxis’, ‘Yeah No’, ‘Pachora’ etc… (and Human Feel! Gotta use this opportunity to put in a mention of Kurt Rosenwinkel who nearly made my list of 5!). The sounds and textures they get are amazing and I really like their approach to composition/structure. Also I love how “simply” Chris Speed plays his notes -no vibrato, shape, not much variety in his articulation – but still makes it sound beautiful. That’s definitely not easy. Current Chris Speed/Jim Black favourite: “Swell Henry” by Chris Speed’s band ‘Yeah No’.

Tony Malaby

One of my favourite musicians playing today. I was fortunate to see his band ‘Paloma Recio’ (with Ben Monder, Eivind Opsvik and Nasheet Waits) twice when I was in New York a couple of years ago. The second time I heard them was maybe the best gig I’ve ever seen (it definitely had the best drum solo I’ve ever heard!). I also really like his recordings as a sideman/collaborator with Angelica Sanchez, especially “Mirror Me”. Again, as much for the way the band plays together as for the individual playing.

-The other musos I play with

They probably deserve more than being lumped in one group together – collectively they have influenced and inspired me in my playing and approach to music more than anything else. Especially the members of my quartet (Hugh Barrett, Mike Majkowski and James Waples) but also many others: Dale Gorfinkel and Scott Simpkins back in high school, a lot of the students and teachers I studied with at the Con, and a lot of musicians/groups I’ve had the opportunity to play with since. Pretty much any playing situation you find yourself in there’s something (even if it’s only a little thing) you can learn by listening to the other musos; I try to always be open to that.

That’s it.



E Dilla

P.S He’s playing down at the Big Gorilla on Sunday

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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.


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.


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)

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


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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Tune into ABCJazz on Digital radio on Thursday, 9pm (channel 201 on digital TV) to hear a live one hour recording of ‘The Dilworths’ recorded for ABCJazz in January 2010.

Here is the link: http://abcjazz.net.au/features/abc-jazz-recording-the-dilworths

We went in for a few hours and recorded a live set of new tunes previously unrecorded. You can also download one track – “Black and White” for free to get a taste of what to expect on Thursday.



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Last night was the album launch for the Kim Lawson Trio over at Jazzgroove. It was great to see 505 packed to hear Kim’s trio with Steve Hunter, James Hauptmann and on a couple of tunes James Ryan. I guess best term to describe the music is powerhouse jazz-rock. It’s a really great thing that these guys put out a record, as these days it seems more and more like the CD becomes your business/calling card and helps to firmly establish your band on the scene.

Check out Kimmo’s Myspace.



P.S coming soon – Interview with Aussie saxophonist Mike Rivett who is currently studying at Manahttan School of Music plus footage of James Muller’s 4tet Live at The Basement

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Hey everyone,

Last night I got to film the great Dave Panichi’s Septet at the new 505 venue.
It was a great night featuring Phil Slater, Peter Farrar, Carl Morgan, Hugh Barrett, Brendan Clark and Evan Mannell.
Dave writes some great conceptual compositions and I hope to put up a few videos over the next week to show those who couldn’t make the gig.

For now here is Peter Farrar’s solo on the last tune for the night. Peter is one of the most interesting and exciting players in Sydney and it’s rare to see him perform. Hope you enjoy:



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