Zoe Hauptmann: ‘My focus and passion has always been with Australian made Jazz’

It’s been more than a year now that brilliant bassist Zoe Hauptmann has been doubling as Creative Director of Sydney Improvised Music Association, making sure that the organisation remains a point of reference for contemporary jazz in the city. Already deemed a success in the role, she’s taking on a new one, as a member of the newly appointed programming team of Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival. Which means that she’s quickly becoming one of the key people in the thriving Australian Jazz community. Here’s what she has to say about all this.

AustralianJazz.net: How has your experience at SIMA been so far?

Zoe Hauptmann: I’m absolutely loving being part of the amazing SIMA family. We have an incredibly supportive and active board who have really got behind me and helped achieve my artistic vision.

AJN: What has been the greatest challenge you’ve had to face?

ZH: The biggest challenge so far has been having to make some tough programming decisions. My focus and passion has always been with Australian made Jazz, so I’ve passed on some International artists in order to present home grown music.Having said that, SIMA is presenting a couple of really exciting internationals, with Donny McCaslin on May 31 and Bill Frisell on June 3!

AJN: What has been the highlight so far?

ZH: The highlight for me so far has been seeing Matt Keegan’s Three Seas finally presented in Australia at the Maritime Museum. It’s a truly special project and it was a priority for me to see it performed from the outset of my artistic directorship.

AJN: The change of guard at Wangaratta Jazz has caused some controversy within the jazz community; would you care to comment?

ZH: Adrian Jackson is a friend and long time mentor to me, something that I’m very grateful is going to continue and whilst he did not wish to leave the position, he has been incredibly supportive of me. He’s a great man! The amazing legacy he has left us as the founder and long time Artistic Director of Wangaratta Jazz festival is something that I want to protect. I will continue to keep the programming focus on Australian Jazz with a few killer internationals thrown in for good measure. I’m really enjoying working with my co-Artistic Directors Adam Simmons, Frank Davidson and Scott Solimo and look forward to presenting a great festival this year.

AJN: There has been some debate, recently, about the role of women in the music industry, and specifically in jazz. As someone who’s been involved both as an artist and an executive, what is your take on the issue?

ZH: There is undeniably an underrepresentation of women across all aspects of the music industry. You can’t be what you can’t see. SIMA’s flagship Young Women in Jazz workshop program, created by Sandy Evans, is celebrating its 15th year. This course has made a noticeable difference to at least the Sydney scene by creating a support network and clear pathway for female jazz musicians. We are now running this course in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, with Victoria to hopefully follow soon. There is so much work to be done on this issue. I’m also a founding member of the newly formed Women In Music Equity Committee (WIMEC), along with some amazing women from throughout the music industry. We are in the process of creating best practice recommendations that will be put to the industry. We need a commitment to change and expect everyone’s support to implement it.

AJN: Has your work as a creative director affected your work as a musician?

ZH: The great thing about my Artistic Director role is you can do it from anywhere, so I’m still doing a fair bit of touring. I was lucky enough to do a big Aussie tour with Missy Higgins earlier this year. We played with all the incredible Australian Symphony Orchestras in each capital city and now I’m spoilt and want an orchestra at every gig! I was at WOMADelaide and Gumball festival recently with a great young artist, Caiti Baker and will be down at the Melbourne International Jazz festival with Sandy Evans, Toby Hall and Peter Dasent with the Playschool band. Along with a 2 1/2 year old and 11 month old twin girls I’m kept very busy to say the least!

AJN: How did you get into jazz?

ZH: My dad is a trumpet player and huge jazz fan so my brothers and I have been listening to it since we were born. When I was 10 years old, I would only listen to ’60s era Miles and thought bebop was “too weird”, something that changed with age, thankfully. By high school, I was heavy into the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Shakti, Weather Report, as well as Funk, Blues and Grunge of course, as it was the 90s! I’ve always listened to a really broad range of music from lots of different genres.Dad used to do blindfold tests on us and as little kids we could pick Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Wayne Shorter, Coltrane the list goes on and on. It’s no wonder we all turned out to be Musicians!