Each year since 2005, in the month leading up to the jazz festival in Wangaratta, Miriam Zolin interviews the finalists in the National Jazz Awards. The awards are decided at Wangaratta in a series of heats culminating in a finals performance on the Sunday of the festival. Wangaratta Jazz festival this year runs from Friday 28 to Monday 31 October.
The National Jazz Awards have been presented at the festival since it began in 1990 and were designed to contribute to the development and recognition of young jazz and blues musicians up to the age 35. The Awards have become a much anticipated highlight of the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues.
This year’s top ten finalists are: Ben Falle, 25, Perth | Graham Hunt, 27, Sydney | James Waples, 28, Sydney | Tim Firth, 29, Sydney | Hugh Harvey, 30, Melbourne | Evan Mannell, 32, Sydney | Sam Bates, 33, Melbourne | Craig Simon, 34, Melbourne | Dave Goodman, 34, Sydney | Cameron Reid, 34, Sydney
When did you start playing jazz and why? For example, was there a ‘moment’ when it came to you as a calling or vocation?
I remember spending afternoons after school standing in the street listening to my neighb
hool with Mark Bowden. He was a real swinging player. I played in jazz ensembles and the big bands at school, and then in rock bands and university revues whilst studying Engineering at UNSW.
our play the drums. That was the first time I had really thought of playing a musical instrument (actually I was scared of the recorder and the xylophone at junior school). I started drum lessons in Year 7 at sc
Although music was my passion, I hadn’t really considered it as a career until the last year at UNSW. I spent a semester playing at the Sydney Conservator
ium Access Centre. I really enjoyed it, and decided to audition for the undergraduate course. Thankfully I was accepted, and I cant see myself doing anything else now!!
Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?
Mark Bowden – for his passion for music, sense off swing, freedom and creativity. Simon Barker for his development of an individual concept, sound and voice. Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Paul Motian, James Gadson, Al Foster, Jeff Ballard…
When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration?
I sing melodies and rhythms into my phone. Most of them are a bit ordinary, but I have turned the odd one into a tune!
What’s your favourite place to play or practise?
I converted my garage into a ‘drum den’ last year. I love getting down there and practising! As for playing: an audience that listens is always great!
What does the Wangaratta Jazz Festival represent for you?
Its such a great hang, and a rare chance to hear interstate musicians play!!
What are you listening to now?
Yoruba Andabo – El Callejon De Los Rumberos
Dena DeRose – Live at the Jazz Standard
Al Green – Lay it Down
Paul Motian – I have the room above her
The National Jazz Awards semi-finals and final rounds will be held at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, October 28-31. Early bird discounted passes are only available until Friday 30th September 2011. Festival Passes are available for blues only venues or all venue access. Purchase your early bird tickets now from www.wangarattajazz.com