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 got a new guitar teacher when I was 13 who started teaching me some jazz. It took me a while to really get into it but I think I got serious around the time the West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra came to Bunbury (2 hours south of Perth). I loved what I heard! I bought a few of recordings of tunes my teacher taught me which I listened to a lot! I think one of them was Sonny Rollins on Tune Up.
Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?
Sonny Rollins, Peter Bernstein and Lage Lund.
Sonny Rollins was a huge early influence for me. His lines and control of time always amaze me!
I freaked out the first time I heard Peter Bernstein! The thing that I attracted me to his playing at first was the larger intervals he used, which I hadn’t really thought about or done before that.
Lage Lund’s sound and chords are what I really like in his music.
When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration?
Up until this year my inspiration was usually that I had an assignment due for uni. Lately if there’s been a rhythm or harmonic concept I’ve been practicing I try and turn it into a tune.
What’s your favourite place to play or practise?
I really like practicing in my lounge room!
What are you most looking forward to at Wangaratta?
I’m really excited to play with Ben Vanderwal and Des White. It’ll be great to meet the other guitarists as well!
What are you listening to now?
Stefon Harris/David Sanchez/Christian Scott – Ninety Miles
A couple of Kevin Hays Albums – For Heaven’s Sake and Sangha Quartet Fear of Roaming. Also this
Jeremy Thomson, 22 from Perth, has been playing guitar since the age of 11. He has completed a Bachelor of Music (Jazz Performance) Honours at the West Australian Academy of Performing arts during which time he won the award for the best graduation recital and highest course marks in his year. Jeremy has played with some of Perth and Australia’s best musicians including – Jamie Oehlers, Ben Vanderwal, Tom O’Halloran, Graham Wood, Chris Tarr, Giorgio Rojas, Mark Fitzgibbon and many more.