Q&A with Alex Boneham – 2008 NJA Finalist

When did you start playing bass and why? For example, was there a ‘moment’ when it came to you as a calling or vocation?

I started playing electric bass when I was 8 and picked up the double when I was 15. I remember I started to play because my primary school really encouraged everybody to play an instrument. The progression to double bass just seemed natural by the time I was 15.

Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?

I think I have been influenced by everybody I have had contact with over my musical life (and probably even before) but some definitely stand out. When I think of my biggest influences, especially in earlier years when listening to jazz I think of classics like Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson, Wayne Shorter, Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

I’ve also been very lucky to have played with and spent time with some musicians I feel have been very important such as Mike Nock, John Harkins, Craig Scott, Alex Henery (SSO) and Matt McMahon.

I also really like Larry Grenadier, Matt Penman, Ben Street, Matt Bruer, Eivind Opsvik, Bob Dylan, Brad Mehldau, James Muller, Mike Majkowski, The Strokes, James Wylie, Miles Crayford, Konrad Paszkudzki and all the musicians I play with everyday – they’re all wicked!

For the people alive and the ones I’ve been able to hang out with I think they inspire me because they are all so open to all music and fresh in their approach. That seems like a common denominator.

When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration? For example, do you ever find that other art forms (painting, writing etc.) feed into your own creative process?

I really enjoy all other art forms especially classical music, literature, painting and film. I think after experiencing any great art you always have a heightened sense of creativity and want to go get your instrument and play.

What’s your favourite place to play or practise?

I love to travel and perform in lots of different places and cities. I think it keeps you fresh.

What does the Wangaratta festival of jazz represent for you?

It has always been the festival to look forward to. The music is so good and it is an awesome hang with all the musicians I rarely get to see.

What are you listening to now?

Rufus Wainwright, Mahler 5, Ornette Coleman – Golden Circle, Guillermo Klein – live in Barcelona, Aaron Parks – Invisible Cinema, The Shins, lots of 60?s miles and Wayne shorter, Bill McHenry – Roses, Le Mystére Des Voix Bulgares – The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Choir, Sam Rivers, Elana Stone – and lots more

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