Brenton Foster is steadfastly becoming one of the most interesting voices in Australian Jazz. A lyrical pianist and composer with a unique way of blending jazz forms and pop melodic structures, he is the 2018 PBS Young Elder of Jazz, which means that he gets to present a special project at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Leading a stellar band (Gideon Brazil, Stephen Magnusson, Tamara Murphy and Aaron McCoullough), he will present ‘Love, As We Know It’ – a cycle of modern jazz songs based on original poetry by Christopher Poindexter, which he will be singing himself.
What is the story behind ‘Love, As We Know it?’
I saw Christopher Poindexter’s work on Instagram.He’s quite a universally loved poet for the younger generation that is introduced to poetry through Instagram.
I think social media is a really great outlet to create relationships and develop opportunities with people at the other side of the world.I could have never come accross Christopher’s work differently. I really admire his work; he is able to talk about big topics, distilling them in a few lines that are really evocative and catch specific emotions and everyday feelings that we all experience.
I sent him some sketches and he sent me some poems reacting to my music and we both worked from that. I don’t know how much experience he has in matching words to music, but I was really impressed when I got his words back. Everything kind of fit together so quickly and naturally, and they allowed me to make some strong musical statements.
They are all songs about love, but they are not just another bunch of love songs about personal romantic relationships. I’m trying to come from a number of different angles. I find it really moving and very powerful and I hope that everybody who comes will share that sense of love and communal emotion that the band is creating.
I’m confident with singing, I’ve been doing it for a long time, although I’m not a ‘jazz singer’ so that might be a challenge.
Overall, this has certainly been a great experience. It was great getting to work with somebody else and be influenced by their style; it would be nice to have a little less time pressure so that we could influence each other a little bit more, maybe.
I’d love to collaborate with people like that in the future. It’s a great way to learn things about yourself as a composer and an artist in terms of how you react with others and you contribute your voice.
Which of Christopher Poindexter’s poems from this project particuarly resonates with you right now?
“Steady in the arms of,
This love a crown of thorns
Unsteady in the wave of us
What once was sweet becomes
Dangerous to touch
Chased to oblivion
To surrender to another is to gamble with your soul”
Brenton Foster will perform Love, As We Know It on Friday 1st June at the Jazz Lab, as part of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival