Refraction is one of the most consistent – and consistently evolving – modern jazz trios in Melbourne. Or, at least, this has been the case up until now. Because now the group’s leader, drummer Chris Broomhead, has moved to Nashville, a city rich with music history; pianist Brenton Foster also left Melbourne for Adelaide. This week they are both back, though and they will meet bassist Jordan Tarento at the Melbourne Recital Centre for yet another demonstration of their deep empathetic connection, and the wonderful music they make together. It will also be their last gig – at least for a while.
What are you going to present at the Melbourne Recital Centre?
The concert is called Trio Music: Reimagined and it is an hour-long performance featuring music from our three recordings, the current of which is entitled Reimagined. The concept is simply to present the best of our music, along with some new compositions, in the in-the-round setting of the Salon, taking advantage of the ambience and acoustics of the space.
This concert marks a turning point in Refraction’s trajectory; do you see it this way? Is it a ‘farewell’ gig?
I think in some respects it is a turning point of sorts, in that it is an opportunity to perform in a more visible artistic place, one which caters to the type of audience were seeking to reach with our music. I suppose too, that it is a swan song gig. I have recently moved to Nashville and Brenton has already moved back to Adelaide earlier this year, so we probably won’t be performing together for the foreseeable future.
Looking back, how would you describe this trio’s history?
I think the main thing we’ve been able to achieve as a trio is a sound, something with a personality of our own. This is something that can be hard to achieve with a group, but I feel that we’ve gone a long way to achieving this. I think we had a reasonably strong personality from the outset and that’s slowly been refined over the last few years, to the point where the music that I write, and also that the others write, is more naturally tailored for us as a trio.
What has been the highlight?
For me the highlights have largely been this year: performing at Kew Court House, recording a new album in July and working towards this Salon gig.
What’s next for the trio?
Well, I do want to keep Refraction as a concept going, even if that means we don’t get to perform together. It may mean I find a new trio over here in the US, or it may mean that we do something conceptually very different, for example creating some sort of recording separately – me in Nashville, Jordan in Melbourne and Brenton in Adelaide. It could work, although the music would likely be very different. It’s something that I would be keen to give a shot.
In the immediate future, we have a fourth album to release, which, as Ι mentioned, we recorded in July. I’m really happy with how this is sounding and I think it might be the closest yet to the sound of Refraction that Ive had in my head. Really looking forward to sharing this album when its ready to go.
What are your first impressions of Nashville?
Nashville has been okay so far. I haven’t gotten myself involved yet to the degree that I could get a feel for the music scene, however there is plenty happening here. It’s not jazz central, of course, but there are lots of great musicians and great bands and different styles being played.
What do you hope to gain from this experience?
I really just hope I can become a much better player, get exposure to different styles, perhaps get involved in some studio tech areas even, and be able to at least partly make a living off playing music. We’ll see!
What are you mainly looking for, as an artist?
Just to make great music that I hear in my head, I think. That’s the hard thing: getting the sound inside out into the world, whether that’s trio jazz, fusion, my drumming in general, etc.
What inspires you?
Great music. Particularly that which has a great melody and harmony. Great grooves help too! An emotional connection. For me, that can come even through more technical music, given the right mood!
Which tune best describes your current state of mind?
In terms of Refraction tunes, probably a new unreleased one called ‘Tacit Green’ from our new recording. We did a version of it at Kew Court House:
In terms of other music, Allan Holdsworth’s Sixteen Men of Tain album has been keeping me going this week. Not sure why. Maybe it’s just a reaction to all the country music over here…