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 wangarattajazz.com
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
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 started playing jazz in my final year of high school – I had only been playing guitar for a year or so and was teaching myself by looking up guitar lessons online (in the pre-YouTube days). One day I came across a jazz guitar lesson and I enjoyed it so much that I made a decision then and there that I wanted to play jazz. I think it was a ‘moment’. Jazz and I had a ‘moment’. Haha
Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?
When I started getting into jazz, I was obsessed with George Benson (some people would say that I still am). My brother Simon who used to be a jazz pianist told me to check him out, in particular his version of ‘Affirmation’. I love the energy in his playing, his phrasing and the way he seems to make difficult things sound so effortless. His album Breezin’ was actually the first jazz CD I ever got and it still is one of my favourites.
My brother was also big influence as he introduced me to a lot of music and songs that moulded my taste in music and inevitably influenced my playing.
When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration?
The music I write is always in the vein of the type of music that I love listening to, whether that is jazz, soul/funk, some pop or more acoustic orientated tunes. What I write about is usually inspired by events happening or that have just happened to me at the time – I guess music allows me to throw up all my feelings, thoughts and insecurities into a single harmonic wastebasket. It’s very therapeutic.
What’s your favourite place to play or practise?
The majority of my time playing/practising is indoors so if the weather permits, one of my favourite things to do is jump on my bike with an acoustic guitar on my back and head down to the local park to practice. There’s something about being out in the sun combined with doing something I love that is pretty hard to beat. Unless there is also food involved I guess.
What are you most looking forward to at Wangaratta?
So many things – of course checking out as much music as I can whilst I’m there. I’m also really looking forward to meeting the other musicians who will be at the festival, as well as having the opportunity to perform with Ben Vanderwal and Des White. My parents are also coming to the festival for the first time so I’m really looking forward to showing them around.
What are you listening to now?
Lately I have been listening to a New York based guitarist called Lage Lund who just blows me away with his tone, lyricism and sense of harmony. One of my favourites of his is a tune called ‘Vonnegut’on his album Early Songs. I’ve also been listening to a bit of Lior who is a beautiful songwriter. Aretha Franklin’s cover of the Doobie Brothers’ song ‘What a Fool Believes’ is regularly on repeat on my iPod too.
About David Gooey
Melbourne based guitarist David Gooey picked up the guitar at the age of 15 after many years of playing the air-variety to his father’s compact discs in the family home. He immediately fell in love with the instrument and has since spent time performing in the jazz/funk/soul scenes both domestically and abroad (Singapore).
Influenced by the music of George Benson, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra and the Smashing Pumpkins, David has studied with respected teachers such as Peter Petrucci, Ashley Cross, Bill Miles and Con Mintzis.
Over the past 12 years, David has been fortunate to perform with many amazing musicians including Raleigh Williams, Jess Young, Adam Rudegeair, Anna Gilkison and Greg Lyons (Singapore).