29 April 2015
Capital Jazz Project in Canberra 30 May - 8 June
Capital Jazz Project was imagined over five years ago as a platform for exceptional audience experiences, and performance, educational and research opportunities for professional musicians and creative artists. With a long jazz lineage in the capital, strong education programs, and a far-reaching Canberra jazz diaspora nationally and internationally, the Street Theatre believed there was an opportunity to create a national forum around jazz through bringing top quality jazz acts together in Canberra whilst nurturing the next generation of Australian and ACT jazz artists. Canberra also possesses a sophisticated and engaged public willing and wanting to be inspired and part of the national conversation around jazz.
At the heart of Capital Jazz Project there is a commitment to composers and new music as the future for any genre, and indeed part of our vision is for a strong commissioning program mixing up jazz with a range of artforms. This is not easy to do in a small place like Canberra with its regional/city state character, and yet we have a range of fascinating projects in development.
We continue our commitment to this ethos in 2015 - our fourth Capital Jazz Project - with Canberra's award-winning composer/jazz trumpeter Miroslav Bukovsky. Co-producer Dean Ellis and myself approached Miroslav to open the festival with a brand-new commission. We kept the brief completely open.
Miroslav wanted to work with Canberra musicians from the jazz and contemporary classical world with unique and distinctive voices - Eric Ajaye, John Mackey, David Pereira, Mike Price, Mark Sutton, and mathematician/sound artist Michael Norris. Inspired by our magpie birdsong, changing seasons, cold light, and isolation, Bukovsky has transcribed Canberra's unique environment into adventurous aural cartography titled Black + White, drawing on the creative musicians here and now that inspire him.
Miroslav will also be guest artist with the twenty-something-strong next generation big sounds of Divergence Jazz Orchestra, led by the accomplished composer/conductor Jenna Cave. Divergence brings the festival to a close - the event features Cave's music played, in part, by her former compositional tutor Bukovsky.
Our opening night double bill also shines a light on composer and vocal pioneer Gian Slater with her PBS Young Elder of Jazz commission Māyā. Andrea Keller and Simon Barker join Gian to form an improvising trio, surrounded by the primal, wordless vocalisations of vocal ensemble Invenio.
Slater and Invenio performed Slater's previous work Gone Without Saying at Capital Jazz Project in 2012 - it was a huge hit with our audience who embraced her extraordinary compositional voice. We felt it was important to support her work through providing a second performance after the premiere at the Melbourne Jazz Festival the day prior.
In the mix we relish the unknown, inspired by what the artists from previous eras have given the next generation. We have this in the Berardi/Foran/Karlen work Memory & Emotion - a series of new musical works for piano, saxophone and voice, with lyrics drawn from Anzac letters. The works explore themes of hope, fear, separation, loss and love, and conditions of war, using elements of jazz and folk music, scored and improvisational, within a deliberately intimate performance context.
A nocturnal mystery through the Melbourne night, told as sonic poems, is Daughter's Fever. Led by singer-songwriter Paddy Mann (of revered alt-folk group Grand Salvo) and composer, sound artist, trumpeter, Peter Knight, with contemporary classical/jazz musicians Joe Talia, Erik Griswold, Vanessa Tomlinson and Andrew Brooks, the group will launch their debut album featuring music that exists in the meeting point between haunted pop, improvised folk, and nu jazz/improv/sound art (on the genre-defying ACT-based hellosQuare label).
With Capital Jazz Project we actively seek work mixing jazz with other forms. Two festival highlights are Baecastuff bringing us Mutiny Music, a spine-tingling contemporary visual-music work composed by Pitcairn descendant Rick Robertson. Mutiny Music is based on the story, music and culture that developed as a direct consequence of the mutiny on the Bounty and the clash of Tahitian and English cultures which developed into the language and song of the Pitcairn and Norfolk islanders. And for young and old alike, the screening of silent animation masterpiece The Adventures of Prince Achmed, accompanied by New York underground music scene celeb Phillip Johnston's boundary-crossing music.
The 2015 line-up also includes Joe Lovano with Paul Grabowsky, Philip Rex, Dave Beck, Katie Noonan, the virtuoso piano-bandolim duo Stefano & Hamilton (Italy/Brazil), jazz-rock icons The Bad Plus (USA), the effervescent drumming of Eric Harland (USA), hard bop combo HAMMERHEAD (AUS), and Colombian jazz icons, the Ospina Brothers Trio.
Capital Jazz Project at the Street Theatre (15 Childers St,
Canberra City West)
Saturday 30 May - Monday 8 June
Information and bookings: tel. 02 6247 1223 or www.thestreet.org.au
© Australian Music Centre (2015) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
Caroline Stacey is the artistic director/CEO of Canberra's The Street Theatre.
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