Q&A with Jackson Harrison – 2006 NJA finalist

Welcome to Jazz Australia’s second series of Q&A interviews with finalists in the National Jazz Awards, which will be announced at the 2006 TAC Wangaratta Festival of Jazz. This year the National Jazz Awards feature piano, for the first time since 1999. At the finals, to be held in Wangaratta in the first weekend of November, the finalists will play with bassist Brendan Clarke (winner of the National Jazz Awards in 2001) and drummer James Hauptmann.

Jackson Harrison is from Sydney

When did you start playing piano and why? For example, was there a ‘moment’ when it came to you as a calling or vocation?
I started playing piano when I was four, and was soon attracted to improvising and Jazz.

Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?
The pianist Sviatoslav Richter comes to mind as someone I probably admired growing up. He inspired me to not do theory exams, and he was a very natural player who didn’t waste too much time on self-reflection. Studying with Mike Nock was great.

When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration? For example, do you ever find that other art forms (painting, writing etc.) feed into your own creative process?
I find myself drawn to those who’s work has some kind of individual or ecstatic vision, whether they be musicians, painters, authors, film directors or, like Ray and Charles Eames, a combination of those. The ones who are doing it for real are humbled by it all. Werner Herzog has always been a strong example of what is possible.

What does the TAC Wangaratta Festival of Jazz represent for you?
I don’t know what it represents, but it’s a great festival and I am looking forward to it.

What are you listening to now?
Solo Flight – Ray Bryant.

Return to the main Q&A page… These annual Q&As with National Jazz Awards finalists are coordinated by Miriam Zolin.