Sandy Evans – a few quick questions

Roger Mitchell, over on the blog said of When The Sky Cries Rainbows:

“Evans and her brilliant ensemble tell a story that is surely best experienced as a whole, with no distractions.”

 Brett Hirst, Alister Spence, Sandy Evans, Phil Slater, Toby Hall, Hamish Stuart, James Greening at the recording session
l-r Brett Hirst, Alister Spence, Sandy Evans, Phil Slater, Toby Hall, Hamish Stuart, James Greening at the recording session | Photo thanks to ABC Jazz (James Kennedy)

Here at extempore, we completely agree and we’re looking forward to hearing the suite live at Wangaratta. So excited, in fact that we wanted to ask her about the gig at the festival.

I’m excited to hear that When the Sky Cries Rainbows will be performed at Wangaratta. Some of my favourite experiences at the festival in past years have been those ones with a longer narrative thread (e.g. the Gest8 gig from a few years back Stu Hunter’s The Gathering last year which was a highlight for pretty much everyone who heard it) Do you think a festival has particular merit as a place to perform longer narrative pieces like this?

The atmosphere of a festival like Wangaratta is conducive to concentrated listening. Both the audience and the musicians give themselves over completely to the musical experience for an extended period of time. People don’t have the distractions of work etc. in the way they do in their normal lives, having set aside dedicated time to enjoy music. So its possible to focus deeply on the musical intent of a longer narrative based work in this context. The attention of the audience really helps the performers so the collective energies of musician and performer work to highlight the experience for everyone. Another advantage of presenting a longer work in a festival setting is the chance to play in a concert hall. As jazz musicians we have limited opportunity to do this, so working in a well equipped theatre with good sound and production helps in the presentation and understanding of longer, more complex pieces.

I see you’ll be playing a gig with Paul Grabowsky; I’m really looking forward to that – two truly individual players who are also marvellous collaborators, with their own unique approach – can you tell me anything about your plans for that gig? For example will it be improvisation, or compositions by either of you, or someone else?

I’m really looking forward to this gig too. Paul and i have talked about doing a duet performance for a few years now and I hope there will be a special energy about it that will express the friendship and shared creative ideals that have characterised aour work together since I joined the AAO.

You’re always very busy and some of your projects are quite diverse. It seems to be common in any given week for you to be playing in a range of styles and teaching, and no doubt writing and practising as well (things your audiences don’t see) I’ve been wondering how you manage it – Do you keep all these activities separate and compartmentalised or is it like a big flow – the Sandy Evans river of musical activity?

Its both: separate and united! There are some aspects of playing the saxophone and thinking about music that transfer from one project to the next: things like breathing, rhythm, creating and controlling tone and technique, having afluid and free connection between your heart, mind, ears and body, having a flow of musical ideas. There are other things that are specific to particular groups, like stylistic features of particular grooves (kopanitsa, jazz waltz, boogaloo… all wonderfully unique!), chord sequences, timbral qualities and repertoire. I’ve been gradually evolving an approach for myself that unites some of these facets, but some things need particular attention and don’t translate from one situation to another. In that regard, I tend to focus on one or two things at a time, depending on the demands of the repertoire.

What do you enjoy (or find challenging) about the Wangaratta Jazz Festival. What place do you think it holds in the the Australian scene?

I love the way it brings together artists from all around the country. It’s a great chance for us to hear each other play and share ideas and experiences. Its always great to hear the fantastic international artists who grace the festival. I think we are fortunate to have a festival which balances the local and international content so well. It can be a bit overwhelming to have so much good music in one place at one time so sometimes as a performer I find I have to focus on my own contribution and sadly miss some of the great musicians who are playing until after I’ve finished my concerts.

As to the place of the Festival in the Australian scene: I believe it is absolutely the most important event in our jazz calendar!

What music are you listening to at the moment?
At this very moment I’m listening to Eppo Varuvaro played by BV Balasai

B.V Balasai Rao Flute
Embar Kannan Violin
D.A Srinivas Mridangam and Konnakkol
Chandrajit Tabla and percussions
Nivas Prassana Keyboards

I’ve been listening to a lot of Carnatic music and Carnatic fusion music recently. This particular track is an interpretation of a famous Carnatic composition.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Sandy Evans and Paul Grabowsky

Sunday 30 October 2011

Sandy Evans Sextet “When the Sky Cries Rainbows

Check Sandy’s gigs on the program page of the Wangaratta Jazz Festival website >>>

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