Indigenous jazz vocalist Lois Olney plays an intimate and very special show at The JazzLab with Fem Belling and the Belling band.
“We’ve made a conscious decision to compose freely in this band, not feeling restricted by genre, just bringing whatever we feel like to the table. You can hear influences of Jazz, 20th Century Classical music, North India Classical music, South American music. With the instrumentation of the music and the mixed influences, you could very much describe it as a contemporary jazz band.”
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 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
“To me, Theseus and Minotaur is a story about masculinity and a story about a cycle of fear and anger and rejection that fathers pass on to their sons that perpetuates bad things in society, like sexual abuse and violence. I see the Minotaur as a classic example of a child who wasn’t given the tools to be a good person in life regardless of the fact that he had the head of a bull.”
Jenny Eriksson: “Elysian Fields have several Scandinavian connections. Matt Keegan studied in Sweden, vocalist Susie Bishop sings fluently in Swedish and bass player Siebe Pogson is 1/8th Swedish. We’ve been doing covers of Scandinavian jazz artists almost from the start. Since Susie Bishop joined us we’ve added some Swedish folk songs. We’ve given Matt McMahon honorary Swedish citizenship, so he does not feel left out!”
“For this project I felt like it wouldn’t be fulfilling for the audience or musicians if we just attempted to play Bjork’s music the way she has produced it, especially for a jazz festival! There has to be something fresh, intriguing, experimental or risky involved for it to make sense to me. I guess this is what we will strive towards presenting some amazing music that we all know and love with a new perspective and sound and room for everyone involved to get their individual voices across.”