The 17th annual Australian Jazz Bell Awards acknowledged and applauded excellence of creativity, recording, performance and presentation of jazz in Australia.
“In Bridge of Dreams, the collaboration between myself, Shubha and Aneesh was at the core of the creative process. I am not in any way expert in Hindustani music – they are! They generously share their knowledge, are willing to experiment, trust, take risks, and allow me to use my instincts to shape and recontextualise the musical materials they offer. “
And that from anguish to giddy silliness, and everything in between is the scope of [A]part. It is a massive piece in every way: challenging to the ear and the mind, highly original (as we know Kirkwood to always be), often cerebral and abstract, all the time threatening to be too much to take in in one sitting. But what saves it from possible overwhelm is that Kirkwood never loses the emotional thread in the music; it is human music and it consistently makes you feel. Sometimes, as with all valid contemporary art, those feelings can be baffling or even plain uncomfortable, but you do feel them deeply.
Sandy Evans was inspired by these images of reality and reflection, so she started composing what turned out to be musical responses to them. “I like to think of harmony in relation to colours”, she says, describing her approach. “Other times it was the structure of the photos that I reacted to. There are certain mirror images, so what I did was take some melodic ideas and reverse them”.
Building on a long history of jazz in Bondi, Jazz @ The Pav will be a month long celebration of jazz music featuring a star studded line-up of Sydneys finest musicians including Matt McMahon Trio featuring Virna Sanzone, Sirens Big Band, The catholics and the Greasy Chicken Orchestra.
Sandy Evans’ playing across the album is unique and spiritedly human, which is what we have come to expect from her. Her questing nature and driven desire to consistently move out of the confines of Jazz has shown her to be an artist going for a universal sound.
20Up sees the AAO return to the place of its first concert: the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne. A total of twenty-five musicians will perform a range of works from Ringing the Bell Backwards, the first work written for the AAO by Founding AD Paul Grabowsky which premiered at Malthouse in 1994; Passion, which is the AAO’s take on Bach’s St Matthew Passion; Testimony, Sandy Evans’ extraordinary tribute to Charlie Parker; Struttin’, Eugene Ball’s impressionistic take on Louis Armstrong, and a brand new commission from young composer, Austin Buckett called Virtuoso Pause.
‘…cued by Komunyakaa’s use of multiple voices, Evans assembled discrete bands for each piece, including no less than 11 different lead singers, plus Michael Edwards-Stevens reading some poems as spoken word with musical accompaniment.’
‘Several ideas guided my creative process in this project: to interpret Yusef Komunyakaa’s poetry, to pay tribute to Charlie Parker, and to do this in my own way in the context of the vibrant Sydney jazz scene of the 1990s.’ Evans says. ‘I’m very proud of this work and thrilled that, in some small way, it is a vehicle for the voices of some very fine Australian musicians, and their embodiment of Parker’s influence, to be heard internationally.’
Evans’ bold vision has allowed her to remain faithful to Komunyakaa’s poems and to Parker’s spirit, while doing so firmly with her own voice. Her finely-crafted composition has given the vocalists and soloists excellent vehicles within which they can pay their individual tributes to Parker, perhaps best summed up in the memorable ‘Testimony Coda’, with Bernie McGann’s last notes floating gently in the air.