Carl Morgan | NJA Finalist Q&A

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 2014 runs from Friday 31 October to Monday 3 November. Find out more at

This year the awards feature guitar players and the ten finalists are: Quentin Angus from New York (originally from Adelaide) | David Gooey from Melbourne | Ryan Griffith from Melbourne | Peter Koopman from Sydney | Paul Mason from Sydney | Carl Morgan from Sydney (originally from Canberra) | Michael Anderson from Sydney | Hugh Stuckey from Melbourne (originally from Adelaide) |  Jeremy Thomson from Perth | Oliver Thorpe from Sydney

Carl Morgan

Carl MorganWhen did you start playing jazz and why? For example, was there a ‘moment’ when it came to you as a calling or vocation?

I started playing jazz after discovering a VHS labelled ‘Red Dwarf’ at home when I was 14. Little did I know the last hour of the tape was a concert of Miles Davis live in Germany in 1988. I’d never heard anything like it and was totally blown away. I became obsessed with jazz.

Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?

John Scofield, Pat Metheny and Kurt Rosenwinkel have been my 3 main influences on the guitar. They stand out for me as guys who have both strong playing and compositional voices. Other Jazz artists that were big influences growing up include Miles, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea and many others. Some non-jazz artists include Meshuggah, D’Angelo, Stravinsky and J Dilla. Lately I have been particularly influenced by the composing and production of Nate Wood and Louis Cole, both drummers that write amazing music.

When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration?

I muck around at the keyboard or guitar until there is some tiny idea that I think sounds cool. I develop ideas using Ableton, refining chord progressions/melodies and also trying out different sounds. Sometimes a particular effect like a reverb or delay plugin can lead a composition in a different direction. My composing is also usually influenced by whatever music I’m listening to at the time.

What’s your favourite place to play or practise?

I escape the inner city pressure of Sydney by spending a week here and there in Central Tilba on the NSW South Coast. It’s where I grew up and I can play all day in a little cabin that backs onto the bush.

What are you most looking forward to at Wangaratta?

Hearing the other finalists, seeing some great music, playing with Ben and Des, and playing with Mike Nock and Andrew Gander’s bands.

What are you listening to now?

Nate Wood ‘Another Time’, KNOWER, Kurt Rosenwinkel.

About Carl Morgan

Carl Morgan grew up in Central Tilba on the South Coast of NSW. After finishing high school he attended the Australian National University where he received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance. In 2009 he relocated to Sydney where he began performing regularly with his own group as well as many local artists on the sydney scene. He released his debut album Stone in 2011. He has performed with many Australian and International artists including Chris Potter, the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra, Mike Nock, Kristin Berardi and Katie Noonan.