Gian Slater โ€“ a few quick questions

The Wangaratta Jazz and Blues festival has some interesting projects this year – and one we’re certainly not going to miss is Gian Slater‘s Invenio singers with Barney McAll‘s Graft. The singers are thrilling on their own, we love Barney’s musical ideas and we’re looking forward to whatever happens, and excited by Gian saying that the music we’ll hear is ‘nothing I’ve ever heard before.’

We caught up with Gian by email and asked her a couple of questions about her performances at Wangaratta.

I understand your Invenio choir be performing with Barney McAll’s Graft; what can listeners expect from that combination? What can you tell us about the performance? For people who have never heard the choir before – can you tell them what to expect?

The music that Barney has composed for 2 pianos, choir, percussion and bass is like nothing I’ve heard before, but at the same time is very familiar and extremely beautiful. I always feel very privileged to play Barney’s music – His music is adventurous and fresh and yet always earthy and grounded which I find very inspiring and moving. I am hesitant to talk about what it sounds like, as we have yet to rehearse in the same space together and with Barney’s music, you never know what to expect and that is hugely exciting. I am really looking forward to hearing Barney and Andrea play together – Barney has really written the parts with Andrea in mind and I know that there sensibilities will compliment and support each other to create something very special. The choir has been working to learn and memorize the music, which has been challenging but really fun! The Invenio Singers are a group I formed early 2010 and have been really busy since then working on my projects as well as a number of other exciting things. All of the singers are very accomplished musicians, who are open minded, interested in exploring new territories and are all great improvisers. Our sound is in a sense style-less – we are not a jazz vocal group (as in the Manhattan Transfer model), nor are we a chamber choir – we have an organic sound, yet we are adaptable.

I think you did a duo performance with Linda Oh the last time she was here? I missed that concert unfortunately. Can you tell me about that? What do you enjoy about working with just a bass player? What is it about this combination of you and Linda that you really enjoy?

I performed with Linda’s Quartet earlier this year at Bennetts Lane. It was a really fun gig. Linda sent me her music a couple of weeks before and we just rehearsed an hour before the gig. It goes without saying that her music was quite challenging, but I had heaps of fun learning it and trying to get it right on the gig ๐Ÿ™‚

We did a few impromptu duos in the set which were a nice contrast to her very cool but tricky tunes.

I love singing duo with bass. Chris Hale and I do a lot of duo playing and have worked on the possibilities of this setting – I love the space and playfulness that you can create. Linda and I are both comfortable with leaving things open and seeing what happens – so it felt very easy and flexible. I guess the challenge in playing a whole set of duo is keeping it dynamic and interesting, so you have to put a lot of energy into it and break things up a bit.

Aside from this busy schedule at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival, what are you working on at the moment? (I heard your trio recently at Bennetts, for example)
My trio with Chris Hale (bass) and my brother, Nathan Slater (guitar) just recorded our first album. It will be out Jan 2012 and we will be doing a little launch tour then. Chris and Nathan both sound amazing on the album and we a lot of fun recording it! I am also excited about releasing Gone without Saying -Invenio Singers on the listen/hear collective label in December.

What does Wangaratta represent for you?
The festival is such a great time for Jazz in Australia. It is awesome to see everyone come together – musicians from around Australia, jazz fans and jazz students. It is always really inspiring and even when you’re not playing – it is time when Jazz musicians can feel really valued for what we are doing – which is nice every now and then.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest, Bjork –Biophilia and Feist – Metals.
I am also listening to Steve Reich’s – WTC 9/11 with Kronos Quartet and Meredith Monks – Songs of Ascension.

Where you can hear Gian Slater at Wangaratta in 2011

Barney McAll : Graft
Artists: Andrea Keller, Dale Gorfinkel, Gian Slater, Barney McAll,
SUN 30/10/2011 8:30pm-9.30pm, WPAC THEATRE

Gian Slater & Linda Oh
Artists: Gian Slater, Linda Oh,
SAT 29/10/2011 4:30pm-5.30pm, WPAC HALL

Linda Oh Quartet
Artists: Sam Sadigursky, Fabian Almazan, Kendrick Scott, Linda Oh, Gian Slater
FRI 28/10/2011 8:00pm-9.00pm, WPAC THEATRE
SAT 29/10/2011 8:00pm-9.00pm, ST PATRICK’S HALL
SUN 30/10/2011 10:30pm-11.30pm, WPAC THEATRE


See the full program here >>>>