“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.
Recorded with two different Andy Sugg Groups in those two darkly glittering Gothams of jazz, New York and Melbourne, the eight tracks on Tenorness span the breadth of the tenors expression in modern jazz.
– 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”.
Terri Lyne Carrington, Christian McBride and Branford Marsalis share some common traits. They are all adept at both ‘straight jazz’ styles and the urban r’n’b-infused sub-genres, easily stepping in and out of these worlds, blending elements, mixing things, creating new music. By doing so, they all helped redefine jazz and keep it relevant.
“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!”
“This project deals with subjects that were big issues in America from the ’30s to the ’70s and the female singers at that time raised their voices, trying to change things with their singing. If some people may have been thinking that these issues were solved nowadays, Donald Drumpf’ s America and the #metoo movement show that it’s not the case. So by covering these songs, we raise our voices too, and keep on trying to open consciousnesses with music, which is our only weapon.”
One thing I’ve learned, while I was doing my homework, was that Australia’s first jazz band – literaly trading as ‘Australia’s First Jazz Band’ was formed in Sydney in 1918 by Belle Sylvia. So this year, we’re not only celebrating the centennial of Australian jazz, but also 100 years of female leadership in Australian Jazz. Not a bad legacy for a scene.