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29 May 2019

My Jazzahead! Experience

Zela Margossian Quintet Image: Zela Margossian Quintet  

Sydney-based pianist and band leader Zela Margossian writes about her experience attending the 2019 Jazzahead industry event as this year's Jazzahead fellow. You can hear Zela Margossian Quintet (Margossian, Alexander Inman-Hislop, Adem Yilmaz, Elsen Price, Stuart Vandegraaff) at Venue 505 in Sydney on Sunday 2 June.

Jazzahead! - one of the most important meeting places for the international jazz scene and yes, I was there.

Thanks to the AMC, I was offered a fellowship to attend Jazzahead as part of the Australian delegation in Bremen, Germany this year where the trade fair is held annually for a few days in late April. There were many highlights for me at Jazzahead. One particular one was the abundance of showcase concerts in the four-day span of Jazzahead; 100 concerts, club nights and other performances. Witnessing the incredible talent and creativity from all around the world is certainly an intoxicating experience for any musician. It leaves you wanting to go home and resume working on your craft and create new material.

When Jazzahead kicked off on Thursday 25 April, I thought it was quite intense, however I was informed by more experienced 'Jazzahead-ers' from the Australian delegation that Friday would be even busier, and indeed it was. There were 3,408 professional participants and exhibiting companies from 64 countries in the trade fair and a total of 18,000 visitors. I spent the first two days walking around the stalls from different countries, labels, and companies from all over the world. I was watching how people were engaged in intense conversations, having meetings, attending the receptions hosted by the different countries. By the third day, I finally had the courage and the nerve to approach a few people and introduce myself and establish a few connections.

As a fellow, I received advice and guidance from a few members of the Australian delegation. I also had positive and constructive conversations with the other members in the team, some of whom I hadn't met before. I was also introduced to a few prominent individuals in the international jazz scene, which I am absolutely grateful for.

Another main highlight for me was being present at the Australian reception, which took place on Friday morning 26 April. The concise but effective welcoming speech by Genevieve Lacey was a delight to listen to and made me feel thankful for the opportunity granted to me to be present there as a Fellow from Australia, the beautiful country which made me feel welcome from day one, and gave me the opportunity to pursue my passion and made me feel comfortable to tell my own stories through my music.

Jazzahead was indeed an insightful experience for me. It is a platform, which offers chances for artists, managers, agents, producers, festival directors, labels, and media representatives from all around the world to establish connections and create networking opportunities between different countries, which can be worthwhile and beneficial for future projects. I witnessed a whole new side to the international jazz industry, of which, as an upcoming artist/performer, I didn't have an idea prior to this experience, particularly of its immensity.

Australia is indeed a source of extraordinary and unique talent and it deserves all the recognition it can get on an international level. Institutions such as SOUNDS AUSTRALIA, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Music Centre, festival directors and labels at Jazzahead and outside of Jazzahead are doing exactly that: paving the way for more recognition and presence for the Australian jazz scene in the worldwide jazz community.

> Read also: 'Australian Jazz in Europe - a report of activities in the Northern Hemisphere spring' (Resonate 29 May 2019) and '2019 Jazzahead Fellow: Zela Margossian' (Resonate 29 March 2019).

> Zela Margossian (www.zelamargossian.com)

Sydney-based pianist and band leader Zela Margossian attended Jazzahead as the 2019 Jazzahead Fellow. Find out more about her music at https://www.zelamargossian.com/.


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