When i was a tiny little fella I used to crawl into my mum’s wardrobe and explore. I was always intrigued by an old case hidden away in there. Eventually i dragged it out, looked inside and was immediately enchanted by its form and odor. One day mum caught me checking it out and told me it was her old saxophone. I started lessons at school when i was about ten. By the time i was a hormonal pissed off adolescent i new this would be a good way to throw off the shackles of authority and the condemnation of hierarchy.
Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?
My biggest aussie influences are Dale, Bernie, Simmonds and Tinkler. My main american influences are Wayne, Trane, Sonny and Archie. Also Ornette, Mingus, Monk and Miles. They are all immensely strong personalities. When they play a note it hits me in the guts and makes me need to respond somehow.
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 don’t really think about feeding my creative process. I just feel like i’m living, and to feel well i need to play. When i’m playing i feel changes in myself and things coming through. Some things are fleeting and others feel more lasting. Sometimes i manage to capture a lasting feeling before it slips away. Those ones are tunes.
What’s your favourite place to play or practice?
I always play outside. Preferably in the bush. I live in the rainforest outside of Brisbane. The main thing I look for in a great spot is the vibe and the absence of leeches.
What does Wangaratta Jazz represent for you?
Wangarrata represents the tenacity of refusing to let Jazz become socially extinct. Thanks to Adrian and his team Wang has become a beacon for the pursuit of genuine, creative, aussie improvised music. It seems to create a sense of belonging for a sparsely populated creative community.
What are you listening to now?
A bunch of Mark Simmonds bootlegs and the gradual creation of my wife’s new album.
These annual Q&As with National Jazz Awards finalists are coordinated by Miriam Zolin.