Freedman Jazz Fellowships finalists announced

From the media release

The Freedman Jazz concert will be held on Wednesday 20 of August at the Sydney Opera House Studio at 7:30pm.
Tickets: $35/$30 Bookings:

The Music Trust today announced the four finalists for the 2014 Freedman Jazz Fellowship, Australia’s premier award for excellence in jazz. 2014’s contenders for the annual scholarship are trombonist Shannon Barnett, vocalist Gian Slater and pianists Matthew Sheens and Aaron Choulai.

The finalists will now have the opportunity to compete for the prestigious $15,000 cash prize in a live performance ‘play-off’ at Freedman Jazz at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday 20 August at 7:30pm.

The judges, distinguished jazz musicians and educators Phil Slater, Andrew Gander and Christopher Cody, selected the finalists from a group of 16 national candidates. Each submitted a career enhancing creative project for which the prize money would be used. Artistically and creatively the sky is the limit. Candidates are required to be less than 35 years of age.

Prolific jazz trumpeter, past Freedman Fellow and Judge Phil Slater said of the finalists, “To be invited to apply as a candidate is already an honour, so to be judged as producing one of the standout projects is something that all finalists can be immensely proud of.  The standard of their work is now known as amongst the best produced by an Australian jazz artist and that’s a remarkable thing.”

Cologne-based trombonist and Bell’s Young Artist of the Year (2007), Shannon Barnett currently holds a seat in what is arguably one of the world’s best big bands, the WDR Big Band. If successful, Shannon plans to record, release and tour a range of her traditional and contemporary creative projects.

Tokyo-based pianist Aaron Choulai received the Japanese Ministry of Education ‘mombushou’ Scholarship to study at the Tokyo College of the Arts (2009 – 2013). Aaron will use his Fellowship prize to invest in quality equipment which would enable him to record and disseminate his music independently online allowing him greater freedom to respond to rapidly changing music market while growing his fan base. The first of his recording projects would be a piano and drum duet album.

2012 Australia Council Creative Fellow Gian Slater, known for her pioneering vision for vocal music and agile, pure voice will undertake an overseas tour for the Gian Slater Trio to launch a profile for her music in Europe. She would establish networks in four key markets by touring and collaborating with artists from Iceland, the UK, Switzerland and Germany.

APRA/AMCOS Professional Development Award recipient (2013), New York-based pianist Matthew Sheens would use his scholarship money to learn the ‘Abbey Whiteside’ piano technique from the world’s most important living exponent, Sophia Rosoff. He would develop a new body of work using the applied technique, and record this material with renowned New York bassist John Patitucci andBrazilian percussionist Rogerio Bocatto.

The Jazz Fellowship is funded by the Freedman Foundation, a philanthropic foundation chaired by Laurence Freedman, which assists and supports young Australians in many areas including medical and scientific programs and the arts. In 2001, Laurence Freedman was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the community, to medical research, the arts, and to business and investment in Australia.

Past winners of the Freedman Jazz Fellowships are a Who’s Who of Australian jazz. They include guitarists Ben Hauptmann and James Muller, saxophonists Julien Wilson, Andrew Robson and Matt Keegan, pianists Andrea Keller, Matt McMahon and Marc Hannaford, trumpeter Phil Slater, bassist Christopher Hale and vocalist Kristin Berardi who are all leaders in Australian jazz

Freedman Jazz will be held on Wednesday 20 of August at the Sydney Opera House Studio at 7:30pm.  Tickets: $35/$30 Bookings:

The finalists

Shannon Barnett (trombone)

ShannonBarnettShannon Barnett is an Australian trombonist and composer, and graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts. In 2007, she was named Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year at the Australian Jazz Bell Awards.

Barnett has become an important contributor to the Australian music scene, performing in ensembles including Vada, The Bamboos, The Black Arm Band, The Vampires, Bennetts Lane Big Band and as a guest with the Andrea Keller Quartet, on the 2004 ABC Jazz release Angels and Rascals. Barnett has also appeared with the Australian Art Orchestra, Barney McAll’s Mother of Dreams and Secrets feat. Kurt Rosenwinkel, Charlie Haden, Flap! and the Paul Grabowsky Sextet, and from 2009-2010, she worked as a multi-instrumentalist and composer with the contemporary circus group Circus Oz, as part of the Barely Contained season.

In 2010, Barnett released her debut album as a leader, entitled ‘Country’, on the Which Way Music label. The recording also features Christopher Hale (acoustic bass guitar), Nashua Lee (electric guitar) and Ben Hendry (drums), and was nominated for Best Jazz Album in the 2010 AIR Awards and Best Jazz Recording in the 2011 ABC Limelight Awards. After attending Dave Douglas’ ‘Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music’ in Banff, Canada in 2010, Barnett was inspired to relocate to New York City, where she completed a Master of Music degree. There she performed with the likes of Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Pedro Giraudo, Cyrille Aimée, Cecile McLorin Salvant, the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra of New York and was a regular member of the Birdland Big Band. In early 2014, she moved to Cologne, Germany, to take up a position with the WDR Big Band.

Aaron Choulai (piano)

AaronChoulaiPapua New Guinea-born Aaron Choulai has worked as a music director and pianist for the Black Arm Band and Kate Ceberano, recorded in New York for Sunnyside Records, headlined at festivals and performed with artists such as Clarence Penn, Ben Monder, David Shea and Allan Browne.

He leads and writes for several original projects, including Vada and The Aaron Choulai Sextet. He has worked on several film scores, gaining nominations for the APRA Young Composers’ Award and for Tropfest’s Best Film Score in 2003. His album Korema is recorded with The Aaron Choulai Sextet and features a number of Melbourne musicians. The recording was made as part of the band’s residency for Umbria Jazz Melbourne in 2005.

Aaron was commissioned by the 2007 Queensland Music Festival to create a large-scale music and film work with musicians from Papua New Guinea We Don’t Dance No Reason. Premiering in 2007 QMF, this work was also presented as part of the 2007 Melbourne International Arts Festival and will be performed in Port Moresby in March 2008. He recently completed a Masters of Music at the Tokyo College of the Arts, where he the prestigious the Japanese Ministry of Education ‘mombushou’ Scholarship.

Matthew Sheens (piano)

MathewSheensBorn in Bowral, Australia, Mathew eventually settled in Adelaide, where he received the Jack De Vos Scholarship to study at the Elder Conservatorium. In 2004 Matthew toured with his quartet across the USA performing his original music. Matthew graduated from the the University of Adelaide in 2008 with a Bachelor of Music (1st class hons) with the University Medal, Most Outstanding Undergraduate and honours Graduate.

In 2009 Matthew became the first Australian to win a Downbeat Magazine Student Award (best soloist category), and received a scholarship to pursue his Masters in Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA, studying with Fred Hersch and Jason Moran. In the same year Matthew received prestigious scholarships, including the Dame Ruby Litchfield Scholarship (South Australian Youth Arts Board) and the Ian Potter Cultural Trust Grant (Victoria) to assist his pursuit of music in the USA. Matthew has also been awarded grants from the Australia Council for the Arts, the Southern Jazz Club (SA), and the Carpe Diem Trust (SA).

Matthew has performed with many musical luminaries including Bob Mintzer, Paul Bollenback, Bob Moses, Cecil McBee, Jim Pugh, John Hoffman, Tom Patitucci  Jerry Bergonzi, Jon Gordon and performs reguarly with bassist John Patitucci. Matthew has performed across Australia, USA, New Zealand, Japan, The Netherlands, at the Jazz Hoeilaart International Jazz Festival in Belgium, Montreux International Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Europafest in Romania, Australia’s Wangaratta Jazz Festival, and at the International Panama Jazz festival in Panama City.

In 2011 Matthew moved to New York City where he is currently engaged in a number of projects as a pianist and composer. In 2012 Matthew released his debut album, Every Eight Seconds, to wide acclaim and won the 2013 APRA/AMCOS Professional Development Award. Matthew will be releasing his second album Untranslatable through ABC Music in August 2014.

Gian Slater (vocal)

GianSlaterProlific Australian Vocalist and Composer, Gian Slater is known for her agile and pure voice, virtuosic improvisations and inventive compositions.  She has released seven albums of her original music – In My Head , Our Galaxy, Creatures at the Crossroads,  The Differences, Still Still, Empathy Chip– Sylent Running and Gone without Saying– Gian Slater’s Invenio  and has featured on many other albums as a sought after sideman or guest artist.

She leads her own vocal ensemble; Invenio, who have performed four of her major works as well as collaborations with New York based pianist and composer Barney McAll and treasured Australian singer/songwriter, Lior.

She was a finalist in the prestigious Freedman Fellowship in 2004 and 2010, The National Jazz Awards in 2005, the Bell Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album in both 2010 and 2013 and was the MJFF Apra Composers Commission winner in 2010. In 2012, she received the Creative Australia Fellowship, awarded to emerging and innovative artists across art practices. Gian has performed in the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival, Wangaratta Festival of Jazz, Stonnington Jazz and the Brisbane Jazz Festival and has performed in Jazz clubs and theatres around the world.

Gian also teaches Jazz and Improvisation at Melbourne and Monash Universities as well guest lecturing at The Manhattan School of Music, West Australian Academy of Performing Arts and Australian National University.