Upon first entering Bird’s Basement, I was immediately conscious of the crystalline sound of the piano, each unamplified note lingering in the space, untrammelled by its neighbours. The audience, in darkness, appeared hushed, as if intensely focused on the music: lyrical, melodic and restrained. As I was drawn into this music, I was conscious of its fragile delicacy, as Mark Isaacs mined the upper register, unafraid of summoning sheer beauty from his instrument.
“I didn’t want to do a tribute show, it’s not really my style”, Kimba Griffith says. “I wanted to mix really recognisable tunes with the power of jazz improvisation, which includes the idea of reinvention. When you’re a teenager, that’s what you do, you reinvent yourself.”
“I’m singing to whoever is listening. If you’ve gotten up off the couch and have come to see some music, I am (dare I say the word) grateful, so I will sing for you. I write for myself and I find that quite cathartic, but I sing for whoever needs a song on that day, at that moment.”
Kim Myhr: “For me, when I approach the piece and the composition it is important that the audience doesn’t have a feeling that the musicians are just reading through a big score, but they are actually really present and making music. The score is just a score but the music happens in the room and in the space.”
“I grew up thinking of jazz as dance music, just like the music you hear on the radio,” says Donald Harrison Jr. “This element was never taught in school or discussed by any of my music peers so that alone made me realize I had a different thought process then even the cats from New Orleans like the Marsalis brothers and my partner at the time, Terence Blanchard. They are all great players, but including a dance feeling did not seem to be high on their priority list in the early ’80s.”
In a series of performances in partnership with the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, the NGV comes alive after dark with the eclectic sounds of jazz during this season of NGV Friday Nights. The late-night art and music series runs alongside the NGVs Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art from 15 June to 5 October 2018 at NGV International. T
“I am presenting this music with a great amount of respect, because the thing that I realized is that there are really magnificent composers who only write for the church and are thus not really known – particularly Doris Akers is a very strong composer in different styles and few people in Australia has heard of her,” says Barney McAll