“I had to distinguish myself as an artist, having grown up in the era of Ella and Sarah and Betty. I couldn’t do what they did as well as they did it, so I found my own voice, my own truth.”
“The broader aim of the Jazz and Social Justice project is to demonstrate the power of jazz as a force for justice, freedom and creativity. Jazz artists have used their music and profile to spotlight injustices since the Civil Rights era. The program I have put together shares the stories and music of jazz artists from 1930s to the modern day who have taken a stand for social justice issues including racial, religious and marriage equality and environmentalism.”
“I’m particularly interested in the jazz-fusion side of the music, (particularly Prince’s collaborative project with Eric Leeds, Madhouse, and also the Family, now known as FDeluxe) and I look for ways to marry the sophistication of jazz with the groove and danceability of party funk.”
“My favourite music (especially swing) exists where the band is on the edge of falling apart or going for things that then they have to navigate a way out of. When you play with people you trust musically, this isn’t scary, it’s exciting and brings out the best in you as a musician and improviser.”
“It’s been an interesting experience as a band, because we’ve been able to interact directly with the dancers and that’s been fantastic. They are part of the band. The most interesting thing for me is the interaction between the front line players and the dancers. Musicians are starting to solo differently and think about their solos, anticipating what the dancers will do; and you can see the dancers anticipating the instrumentalists as well. It’s an interesting process, I think we’re at the beginning of something.”
– When did you realise that you have found your own voice as an artist?
– I feel that my individual voice started to really become solidified on my previous CD, ‘Rush’. I hope to keep refining it.
– If your life was to become a movie, which tune would be on the end credits?
– Five Days In Hermosa, by this Canadian jazz musician named Mike Field. It’s another fun tune, and it’s instrumental so it would work really well for end credits. I wrote this tune because every time I’d travel on tour from Canada to New Zealand and Australia, I’d stop through Los Angeles and would play at The Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach. It’s such an iconic club with so much jazz history, and even though there’s a lot of karaoke and reggae bands playing there these days, there’s still jazz three days a week. Each time I was there, it would take me about five days to rehearse with the band and play the show, so after doing that a bunch of times, it inspired this tune, which I ended up recording on my third album.
“My music sounds like me and it sounds like someone who has not grown up in a major centre like Melbourne, or New York, or London. For a long time I was ashamed of this. But I have begun to realise this is also what makes my music worth listening to; its a part of what makes it unique. Matthew Sheens is also from Adelaide (although he’s been living in NY for many years) and Myele Manzanza comes from Wellington in NZ (which is even smaller and more isolated than Adelaide, where I am from). All three of us are coming from the outside of the centre of the worlds we love, participate in and contribute to. The Outsiders is my reflection on all of this.”
“For me singing is catharsis. I really believe a vocalist’s one and only job is to be a great storyteller, that’s more important than hitting the right notes, more important than being able to read or write music. So when I’m on stage, I’m just 100% immersed in the song”.
“The guys in the band did such a great job of writing music to really bring Lionel Loueke into the group so he’s a fifth member as opposed to just a guest. I would have loved to be present in the studio just to watch the magic happen!”