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 in 2012 runs from Friday 2 to Monday 5 November.
This year’s ten finalists are: Cyrille Aimée, France (currently based in New York) | Kristin Berardi, Sydney | Briana Cowlishaw, Sydney | Luara Karlson-Carp, Brisbane | Kate Kelsey-Sugg, Melbourne | Joshua Kyle, Melbourne | Chantal Mitvalsky, Melbourne | Judith Perl, Melbourne | Liz Tobias, Adelaide (currently based in Boston) | Katie Wighton, Sydney
Miriam: When did you start playing jazz and why? For example, was there a ‘moment’ when it came to you as a calling or vocation?
Josh: I don’t really know why jazz happened for me other than I fell into it. As a kid people were always suggesting songs for me to sing and I always felt most comfortable in the jazz style; as a result I kept moving further towards it, listening and finding more songs that I liked. I think,too, that jazz tunes were always considered harder than pop tunes to learn and I loved the challenge. I used to rock ‘Moondance’ as a 12 year old!
Miriam: Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?
Josh: There are loads who have inspired me, but I think mostly about Miles Davis and the seemingly infinite creativity he had. His ability to explore music around him and embrace it whilst still having a distinct sound really appeals to me. Ive also been listening to Vince Jones sing for as long as I can remember and thinking that that’s how I want to sound. Beautiful tone, meaningful connected singing, killer chops and not afraid of grooves.
Miriam: When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration?
Josh: Mostly when I’m walking around and not thinking about one particular thing something will trigger melodies and patterns that I quickly record onto my phone. Sometimes lyric ideas will be there instantly and others will just be notes. I think it’s important to have that time when you ‘switch off’, for me down time is when I can be most creative and inspired.
Miriam: What’s your favourite place to play or practise?
Josh: I think for most singers/humans we love to practise in the shower – I’ve been annoying family members and flatmates for years and I’m sure I will be for years to come.
Miriam: What are you most looking forward to at Wangaratta?
Josh: Hanging out – it’s going to be a singer fest this year both on and off the stage. Im really excited to see Gregory Porter do his thing in Aus for the first time, Gwilym Simcock is an amazing UK pianist and Jon Cleary will definitely help settle the nerves of the weekend!
Miriam: What are you listening to now?
Josh: I’m listening to loads of the old Lambert, Hendricks and Ross albums which I really love, plus Avashai Cohen, Robert Glasper and some Jamie Woon and Jamie Lidell.
‘The Thrill Is Gone’ – Josh Kyle at Stonnington Jazz Festival 2012
Visit the Wangaratta Jazz Festival website wangarattajazz.com
Josh Kyle on MySpace myspace.com/joshuawilliamkyle
The National Jazz Awards
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.