My brother, Carl Mackey, a sensational saxophonist, and I, grew up listening to the sounds of jazz. When everybody else was listening to Molly Meldrum’s Countdown in the 1970’s we were listening to John Coltrane’s ‘Countdown’. My father gave me John Coltrane’s 1957 album, ‘Rise and Shine’, aged 8, and this transformed my life…
He insists he is not a jazz man. ‘Seriously, I don’t think I’d be capable of making a genre specific album – I think of the people who shine in those genres and they define themselves in their own way. I think that in our post-modern state those boundaries mean less. I love Puccini, Ravel, Bach, Miles, Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Mingus, Charlie Parker, David Bowie… I just love great music.
Saxophonist-composer Gai Bryant, who is completing her Master’s in Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium, has found inspiration in traditional Cuban music for her latest big-band project.
The band has been playing together so long that they know each other’s playing intimately: ‘We can just look at each other or play something and know that we are going to go on to a new section of the music or that the dynamics are going to rise or fall. It’s amazing how it works.
Prior to publishing his review of Theseus and The Minotaur (Captain Kirkwood), John Hardaker asked Ellen Kirkwood some questions about the album and Here are her responses. 1. The most obvious first – why did you pick the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur for your debut release? This decision was mostly about practicality and …
‘Another thing I came to realise when I had to spend a few years really lost in my film and unable to practise music, is that when singing, because the breath is really focussed and controlled over a period, it has a meditative, almost yogic quality that is incredibly good for health and mind.’
Think big, dream large etc. This is an opportunity for you to stretch yourself creatively. Looking back at previous winners of the commission, we have all tried something very new to us and used the commission to test uncharted waters. The MJFF Commission is no place to play it safe.
‘We’re all friends who enjoy making music together’, says Jess, ‘which makes for a really exciting and engaging live show. Audiences really seem to dig it and keep coming back for more, which is something we don’t take for granted.’
Pacheco first became aware of jazz at the age of eighteen when she was given a copy of Keith Jarrett’s The Köln Concert. ‘It was the turning point of my life,’ she says. ‘I could not believe what I was listening to. I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t even know who Keith Jarrett was, but I knew that I wanted to play like that.’
On the eve of an Australian tour and a UK tour, pianist-composer Alister Spence spoke to Phil Sandford about his influences and approach to music.