“We’re seeing more women artists in jazz, but perhaps not at the rate we’re expecting. I think one of the biggest challenges is to encourage young players to pursue music at a tertiary level and beyond.”
There were over 70 performances to choose from, so even without the big international names in the line-up, it was outstanding value for pass holders. The tightly packed schedule meant catching complete sets was the biggest challenge.
“I grew up looking up to musicians like Andrea Keller and Sandy Evans, because I could see that they had their own bands, were writing their own music and were totally accepted and respected by the jazz community. I saw that it was possible to have a career in music.”
“I feel lucky to have wandered into the position of doing a job that I enjoy and find rewarding, and to do it for so many years. The highlight has probably been having the chance to work with so many musicians who I hold in such high regard ; to propose or develop projects with them ; and then to see it all come together onstage, to be met with such generous approval by the audience.”
With influences including American icons such as Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, alongside less known but no less luminous talents such as Carmen McRae, Roberta Flack, former Supreme turned balladeer Mary Wilson, and New Zealand expat Bridgette Allen, Mama Alto’s sound remains idiosyncratic and unique, partly due to her luscious and gender transcendent voice which has drawn critical acclaim and audience admiration.
” It’s our intention to make this yearly event a flagship for Queensland Vocal Jazz by providing significant career opportunities, job creation and promotion of jazz artists. We want to celebrate the diversity of the jazz vocal art form which encompasses everything from original works to original reinterpretations of jazz standards – mainstream and contemporary as well as jazz vocal improvisation.”
It was a high-energy performance, one that had your feet tickling and wanting to burst into swing-dancing or, at times, making your soul let go and follow the smooth flow of notes. Just what one needs on a rainy night in Melbourne!
“I came to better understand Coltrane; he often sounds like a preacher. I aspire to have this effect on people, than just show off my chops”.
AJN: Some think that a tribute to Vince Jones is long overdue and that the jazz community should gather and honour your contribution. What are your thoughts on that?
VJ: Give me a few more years to write some more songs before any tributes.
” I always have to have an emotional connection to the song, otherwise I don’t feel I’ll be able to do a good job. I’ve never been good at pretending, so it has to be honest and real”.