A LOVE LETTER TO JAZZ
In my second year of jazz school, I vividly remember my teacher and mentoraddressing my future as a musician.
"You will go off and play other styles of music..." Vince spoke, "but you will always return to Jazz..."
At the time I didn't think much of it, and continued to immerse myself in university playing every style of music I could get my youthful, inexperienced hands on.
Shortly after this conversation took place, I was lucky enough to go into the studio to record my first, and only album. Through the generosity of the ACT Government, I was afforded the immense opportunity to put my musical thoughts down onto paper, with musicians whose ability far exceeded my own, and who continue to inspire me today.
Recording the album completely live, and with no vocal edits or auto-tune (something which I may have redacted in hindsight), it created a snapshot of where I was musically and compositionally at that period in my life.
Whilst I remain musically critical of the album, I was very happy with the result and the album was well received through reviews and my network of musicians and friends.
One of the greatest difficulties in releasing this album, was that despite receiving good exposure, the musical climate in Australia is dominated by a few key persons who control both public opinion, and the outlets that allow music to reach the ears of the listening public through festivals and venues
In a country where the geography compounds logistical factors, at the time of release I decided not to tour the record and only did an Album Launch in my hometown of Canberra. It was simply too expensive, and the thought of losing money on a tour was too great a risk at the time.
I feel saddened by not presenting the album on the West Coast, but have learnt my lesson and will be taking the risk next time!
Fast forward to 2015, and I have spent the last three years performing, writing and composing and living between New York and Sydney.
It has been a period where I have learnt from incredible musicians and grown musically and personally.
However, it has also been a period of much musical confusion and direction, and I have started many projects, only to move on musically or put an emphasis on performing live, rather than recording or creating something to document the project.
In New York I was exposed to musicians who had facility to play multiple genres, and do so with unquestionable taste and musicianship. I was quickly drawn to these scenes, in search of playing with musicians who had this distinct ability to "cross-over".
Despite enjoying myself greatly, in retrospect I was confused musically about the direction I wanted to be headed. I wrote music which was as broad as my tastes, but often it would turn out to lack cohesion or ability integrate into a strong body of work.
Since being back in Australia, and now being based in Sydney before heading to New York again in May, I have had the fortune to see performances by friends that have re-ignited my passion for improvised music, and the joy that it brings. In particular seeing a performance at 505 by Kristin Berardi, I remember sitting in wonderment at the beauty of expression and facility that was being displayed on stage.
Jazz is no longer the genre of the times (and it never will be), but it still serves as a vehicle for great artistry and musicianship, and I just cannot shake it.
There may only be a small yet devoted scene, and it will certainly never result in the fame associated with being an Indie-Rock or Pop artist, but at its purest roots, I find myself always drawn back to jazz's ever-morphing shores.
And with this realisation, I want to honour my current direction, and ignore alterior motives pushing against it.
I will be recording an album with my favourite Australian Jazz Musicians before returning to New York, and I will work as hard as possible to ensure it is an honest and cohesive reflection of me as a musician.
I am not sure logistically how this album will be happening (I may look to crowd-funding) but it will happen, come rain or shine!