Nominees for the Jazz Fellowship 2015

The Music Trust has announced a list of nominees for the 2015 Freedman Jazz Fellowship, with the event culminating in a concert by the four finalists in Sydney on July 20.

Aaron Choulai, Freedman Jazz Fellow for 2014. Photo by Karen Steains

Aaron Choulai, Freedman Jazz Fellow for 2014. Photo by Karen Steains

The annual Freedman Jazz Fellowship, held by The Music Trust is designed to assist young top Australian jazz musicians aged up to 35 years to build further career success.  Based on an invite-only process, nominees are selected by senior industry figures in each state. Those nominated compile a project proposal and a demo recording, and from these, four finalists are selected to perform at the Sydney Opera House on July 20, 2015.

The 2015 nominees are: Tal Cohen (piano), Peter Farrar (saxophone), Casey Golden (piano), Andrew Garton (saxophone), Lyndon Gray (bass), Jonathan Hunt (reeds), Travis Jenkins (guitar), James Macaulay (trombone), Ross McHenry (bass), Mike Rivett (saxophone), Julius Schwing (guitar), Tate Sheridan (piano), Gian Slater (voice), Hugh Stuckey (guitar), Daniel Susnjar (drums), and Joseph Tawadros (oud).

Read more about the Freedman Music Fellowships or last year’s winner, Aaron Choulai.

Tal Cohen (piano)

“Tal is a fireball of talent and endless in–the-moment creativity. His music comes from an honest, deep place that no one can deny. I have seen him develop so rapidly in terms of technique, sound and ideas. He recently won the Barry Harris Piano Competition in Detroit, and was also a semi-finalist in the 2013 Wangaratta Jazz Awards. He’s making serious waves in the US – he’s played duo with Gonzalo Rubalcaba, with the Terence Blanchard Quintet, Greg Osby, et al – and is about to graduate with a Masters degree from the University of Miami.”

Nominated by Tom O’Halloran (WA)

Peter Farrar (saxophone)

“Peter has owned a unique sound on the alto saxophone since he was a student at the Con – maybe even earlier, but I hadn’t heard him play before then. I’ve recorded him playing in many stylistic guises – an improvising soloist and ensemble player in NOWnow-style free playing, small group post-bop settings, large group jazz with Mike Nock’s Suite SIMA project and afro-beat inspired groups led by Dereb Desalegn and Matt Ottignon. As different as all these settings are, the thing that comes through is Peter’s unique sound and his inventive improvised solos.”

Nominated by Peter Nelson (NSW)

Casey Golden (piano)

“With great interest, I have observed Casey building a solid career and reputation based around his complete and original output as a jazz pianist and band leader for a number of years. He represents the foremost of his generation. Casey’s immense skill as a pianist – highlighted by his exquisite touch – and as a composer has enabled him to produce albums featuring a distinctive compositional intrigue that has already captured enthusiastic attention from peers and critics around the world. The rapport Casey has built within his long-term trio comprising bassist Bill Williams and drummer Ed Rodrigues is excellent, bringing with it the potential to represent Australian jazz admirably on the international stage.”

Nominated by Dave Goodman (NSW)

Andrew Garton (saxophone)

“Over the last decade Andrew has been one of the most active and prolific jazz musicians amongst the Brisbane Jazz scene. Andrew has a regular ensemble the ‘Abbreviations Orchestra’. This ensemble has released a couple of recordings and performed regularly in Brisbane. Andrew’s writing, in particular for his ensemble, has its own unique style which deserves far wider recognition among the Australian Jazz community. In 2009 Andrew was commissioned by Jazz Qld Inc. to write music for the Q150 (celebrating 150 years of Queensland becoming a state) which was premiered at the Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the Valley Jazz Festival. Andrew also writes and arranges for many local large jazz ensembles around Brisbane.”

Nominated by Dan Quigley (QLD)

Lyndon Gray (bass)

“Lyndon is a mainstay of the Adelaide jazz scene, one of the most in-demand bassists and a consistently visionary and ambitious musician.  His skill on the bass is impressive, particularly his melodic inventiveness and ability to treat the bass as a “horn” style instrument, but also the rhythmic drive and agility he brings to ensemble playing.  He has a well-developed, unique and distinctive voice on his instrument.  He has a long-term association with Adelaide Arts organization COMA, having fulfilled a variety of roles, and so is familiar with Arts and project funding.  It seems to me that he is at an ideal point in his career to pursue a project funded by the Freedman Fellowship, and he would make an excellent candidate.”

Nominated by Chris Martin (SA)

Jonathan Hunt (reeds)

“Since first meeting and playing music with Jon Hunt in 2008 he has most impressed me with his ability to judge and act upon any situation with a considered and mature approach. Jon has and continues to work hard on his craft as a woodwind player, and is an outstanding clarinettist. Not only is he well aware of the history of the music he involves himself in, Jon is also a forward thinking modern musician, developing a work ethic and methodology that in will ensure his musical output has worth and an impact in an ever-changing musical landscape. I am sure that any assistance Jonathan is given by the Freedman Foundation will be put to good use artistically and for the music and greater community.”

Nominated by Ronny Ferella (VIC)

Travis Jenkins (guitar)

“Travis Jenkins is a guitarist who is fast rising as one of the most talented and interesting guitarists on the Brisbane Jazz scene. Travis also has a passion for composition. I have seen him perform with his own group and level of intricacy within his compositions and arrangements is by far a stand out of any of his peers. Travis studied with Ben Hauptmann which has obviously had a huge impression on his technical skills, musicality and openness to creating music. I feel that Travis deserves wider recognition as a young artist and given the opportunity I’m sure he will prove his already deep commitment in the jazz sector.”

Nominated by Dan Quigley (QLD)

James Macaulay (trombone)

“James Macaulay’s approach to trombone playing is truly virtuosic. He pulls sounds and phrases out of the instrument, which, until now, would have seemed impossible or too nimble for the slow speaking nature of the trombone. He is nationally recognised through his work with the Australian Art Orchestra, participating in many of their smaller side projects. Meanwhile, James has been running his own quartet for the last few years, featuring his compositions – compositions which, I would argue, have been heavily informed from the Australian jazz canon and are furthering our uniquely Australian jazz sound. It is for all of these reasons that I nominate him as a Freedman Fellow.”

Nominated by Tamara Murphy (VIC)

Ross McHenry (bass)

“I’ve followed Ross McHenry’s career for a long time, having taught him at the University of Adelaide many years ago and played with him frequently in his earlier career.  He shows great maturity and skill in his playing, drawing on a wide range of influences.  Most impressive is his vision for musical projects and for South Australian jazz in particular – he has shown more commitment to promoting and producing South Australian jazz acts than any other artist I can think of.  He has a talent for bringing together interesting combinations of musicians, with interesting ideas, and driving these projects with excellent organizational and promotional skills.  I believe that his combination of musical abilities and business acumen make him an excellent candidate for the Freedman Fellowship.”

Nominated by Chris Martin (SA)

Mike Rivett (saxophone)

“By the time I’d heard about Mike in 2001, he was already a strong, dynamic and positive creative force within the Sydney jazz community and I’ve been tremendously impressed with the sincerity of his musical commitment since my initial first-hand encounter with him. He has inspired me and many others from a variety of generations with his original conception, with his prodigious skill and rich tone on the saxophone and in digital music production. As well as having already established strong musical ties in Japan, Mike completed his postgraduate studies at Manhattan School of Music, and he has produced an original album of the highest quality that only enhances his career of international standing.”

Nominated by Dave Goodman (NSW)

Julius Schwing (guitar)

“I am nominating Julius Schwing as he is an outstanding young Australian improvising musician. He draws on aspects of his cultural heritage, being that of a young person from remote Bruny Island in Tasmania of Austrian heritage. His musical output is original, innovative and inclusive of his co-performers. I have been performing regularly with Julius and I find him to be an inspirational musician.  Julius has excellent technique which he utilises to serve the music. I feel that an award such as this will be immensely helpful to Julius in enabling him to take his career to the next level.”

Nominated by Nick Haywood (TAS)

Tate Sheridan (piano)

“Tate Sheridan is a recent honours graduate of the ANU School of Music but is competent and renowned beyond his age. Tate has released two CDs: ‘In hiding’, with altoist Calum Builder and a piano trio album entitled simply ‘Tate Sheridan’. He has appeared on CDs by other artists. He performs regularly with the best local players of all ages, including John Mackey and Miroslav Bukovsky and has appeared at a string of jazz festivals. He appeared at the Canberra International Music Festival Fringe (CIMF2014) as an ANU artist in profile. He has a presence beyond jazz having been identified as a Triple J Unearthed artist. He is the recipient of several awards: Merimbula JazzQuest Scholarship (2012), ANU Imad Nassir Medal for Most Outstanding Piano Performance (2013) and the Canberra Critics Circle award (2014).

Tate shows an impressive grasp of history and styles of jazz piano. He is an effective composer, sometimes introspective, impressionistic or storytelling, other times lively and engaging. Tate is young but already playing with exceptional maturity and confidence.”

Nominated by Eric Pozza (ACT)

Gian Slater (voice)

“In my opinion, Gian stood out as a candidate for the Freedman Fellowship for a number of reasons. For the last few years in Australia, she has been a very active member of the Australian jazz community, instigating many innovative projects and collaborations, including her vocal ensemble, Invenio; jazz group, the Gian Slater Trio; and her pop project, Frostfall (to name a few). Her unique approach to singing and improvising has forged a new sound on the Australian landscape. She has an inspiring work ethic, she is a prolific composer and I strongly believe that were she to be a successful candidate, that she would benefit both the Australian music community as well as the Freedman Fellowship itself.”

Nominated by Tamara Murphy (VIC)

Hugh Stuckey (guitar)

“Hearing Hugh play for my first time at the 2007 Wangaratta Jazz Awards, I and everyone else in the room know that Hugh was already a fine jazz player with much potential. Since then I have played with and listened to Hugh many times where I have been lucky enough to watch him mature into not only a very good jazz player but an even better all round musician. Hugh is willing and able to deal with many musical situations and his mature and very capable approach rewards the listener as well as his fellow musicians. Hugh is very committed to musical excellence; any help he receives is a gift for all concerned.”

Nominated by Ronny Ferella (VIC)

Daniel Susnjar (drums)

“Daniel Susnjar is a drummer and composer who is always pushing himself to new projects and creative musical experiences. He’s the most enthusiastic musician I think I have ever met. His command of technique and sound at the drum set is simply beautiful and so supportive to play over. He simply loves all forms of Jazz and this has led him to extend himself to living in the USA for several years and completing a DMA degree, whilst exploring Afro-Peruvian music and yielding new results as he wrote pieces incorporating their rhythms.”

Nominated by Tom O’Halloran (WA)

Joseph Tawadros (oud)

“Joseph’s last album – Permission To Evaporate was one of my favourite jazz albums of 2014. It was recorded in New York (jazz Central), utilizing some of the best jazz improvisers in New York and Australia. But as with his previous album (which also used some of New York’s top jazz players), Joe’s work only seems to get acknowledged as world music here in Australia, with both albums winning Best World Music album at the ARIA Awards. If the jazz elite of New York can engage with Joe’s music, I believe it’s time for his homeland to catch up.”

Nominated by Peter Nelson (NSW)

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