Freedman Classical Fellows and Freedman Jazz Fellows win their awards by performing for judges and audiences and proposing projects on which they would spend their prize money should they win a Fellowship.
These projects are intended to assist the winners to develop their careers. Generally speaking, they are designed to enable the artists to increase their artistic ability and/or achieve greater exposure and success in performance. For instance, some Fellows choose to commission and perform new works or to make recordings that can be used in promotion. The actual strategies are many and varied.
After about two years, the Fellows send in reports of their experiences in carrying out their projects. The Music Trust is publishing these reports in the expectation that they may be helpful in guiding other musicians towards success.
Below are reports from firstly the Freedman Classical Fellows, and then the Freedman Jazz Fellows. They are listed alphabetically by the surnames of the artists. The year in which they won the award is also shown.
REPORTS FROM THE FREEDMAN CLASSICAL FELLOWS
Lina Andonovska, flute, 2013
Objectives of Freedman Project and Achievements
Since being awarded the Freedman Fellowship in 2013, I have been gaining momentum in my career as performer, curator, collaborator and facilitator. My work has begun to become recognised on an international scale, and I have presented my work to new audiences in a diverse range of contexts. The main and underlying goal of my Freedman Fellowship was to generate opportunities in my career as an emerging artist through taking an entrepreneurial approach by means of a commissioning and recording project. Another goal of my Freedman Fellowship was to help bridge the gap between being an emerging artist and having a sustainable career as an Australian musician.
I commissioned Australian composer Anthony Pateras to write a new solo composition for flute and electronics titled a reality in which everything is substitution. Alongside the new composition, I have recorded four other Australian flute works including Demons by Brett Dean, Mujo by Lachlan Skipworth, Cars and Sunsets by Thomas Meadowcroft and Ether by Mary Finsterer. The works have been edited and are now in the mastering and post-production stage. I will be releasing the recording independently, available for download or as a physical copy in early 2016. The intention of this was to act as a ‘calling card’ and to generate further momentum and interest in my activities as a musician. I believe that these goals have been achieved and my profile has been raised significantly since receiving the award.
Things that I have learnt from my Freedman Fellowship project
Collaboration was a big element in my project, and I learned how to create positive outcomes throughout the collaborative process. This is something that will be an ongoing theme throughout my career; it was a brilliant opportunity to have the initial support of the Freedman Fellowship to test the waters of what is possible especially when it comes to commissioning new work and documenting it.
I also learned the importance of keeping to a timeline, but also to understand that when planning a project far in advance, timelines will tend to evolve. It’s always important to remain flexible and open to changes that may arise when planning for a project that involves more than one person, and this played a factor in the delivery of my outcomes.
Career development through the Freedman Fellowship
I am yet to make the recording available for online and printed distribution, so I am looking forward to completing this final phase within the next few months. I have received interest in my activities as a Freedman Fellow, and I have been promoting my work in the presentation and performance of contemporary Australian flute music around the world. The prestige of being awarded a Freedman Fellowship has raised the profile of my own activities around Australia.
Since being awarded the Fellowship, I have founded two ensembles dedicated to the programming and performance of contemporary new music as well as bringing together cross-disciplinary art forms. These groups, CATHEXIS and Press, Play have been awarded program funding by ArtsVIC and New Music Network, have featured in the Port Fairy Spring Festival and 2015 Melbourne Festival, and Press, Play’s performance of Trio No. 10 by Larry Sitsky (commissioned by the ensemble) was awarded the prestigious Contemporary Masters Award by the Melbourne Recital Centre. Press, Play will be featured artists in the 2016 Metropolis New Music Festival.
In the last 6 months I have also been gaining momentum internationally, having just completed a two-month contract as artist in residence with Crash Ensemble who are one of Europe’s most well-known exponents of contemporary classical music; I have also recently begun an Asialink Residency in Timor-Leste that will be completed in January 2016. For the residency, my plans include collaboration with local contemporary musicians, cultural exchange with traditional flute players in the Lautem district, and presentation of contemporary flute works in a variety of performance situations. Earlier in 2015 I completed a trial with Grammy award winning ensemble ‘eighth blackbird’ in Chicago, and will be doing a debut performance at the Tokyo Experimental Festival in late December with my flute duo BINARY.
I am helping to raise the profile of emerging and established Australian composers, which is one of the most important aspects of my work. As a young female artist leading a portfolio career, I act as an ambassador for other artists that also choose to take the road less travelled and create their own unique career paths. Through my commissioning and recording project I have contributed a new work to the repertoire that is available for subsequent performances and documented a small portion of existing Australian flute music that will become available on a global scale.
Advice to The Music Trust and musicians
The work that is carried out by The Music Trust is incredibly important in increasing the visibility of the activities carried out by Australian musicians and composers. I am grateful for the support of the Freedman Foundation through the Freedman Fellowship award, which has helped me to better understand the processes of commissioning and recording, as well as raise the profile of my own work. I would like to encourage the Freedman Fellowship Award to continue to support musicians that take risks in their art form therefore redefining the genre of classical music. I believe that this is the way that we as artists can continue to make our art form relevant and important to contemporary society.
I would like to suggest that a platform is created that connects alumni Freedman Fellows to share their experiences with each other as well as establish a network where we can engage with each other’s work, as there is so much to learn when it comes to an ever evolving creative practice.
I want to encourage musicians to undertake a diverse range of projects throughout the course of their careers. Open-mindedness, versatility, as well as the goal to communicate through music are all qualities essential for the 21st century musician.
Peter de Jager, piano, 2014
My original proposal, and outcomes achieved
1: Commission a large scale Piano Sonata from friend and colleague Chris Dench.
The Sonata was formally commissioned on the 22nd of September 2014, shortly after receiving the Fellowship. It was a piece which Chris had been intending to write ever since hearing the Barraque Sonate in the 60s and wishing some day to write a companion work on a similar scale. I first met Chris at the end of 2010, and after playing in a few chamber pieces of his over the next year he was impressed enough with my work to suggest that he write this Sonata with myself in mind to perform it. I readily accepted. He had envisaged the work as being around half an hour long; his initial structural diagrams plotted out a structure of precisely 32 minutes. This rapidly ballooned. He started work on the piece in February of 2015, and finished work on it in April of 2016. At this stage it had achieved a stature of close to 100 minutes in length, in 10 movements. However, given the scope of the composer’s vision, which was the unfolding of a whole universe, depicting every stage of a particular cosmological life-cycle, the piece felt like it was exactly the length it needed to be.
2: Plan and prepare a program consisting of four major works for piano: the new Chris Dench Sonata, the Barraque Sonate, the Alkan Symphonie for Solo Piano, and the Szymanowski Piano Sonata No. 3.
All three of the other works I chose had great personal significance to Chris, and provided not only a way for me to tackle some of the more challenging parts of a repertoire which had for a long while greatly interested me, but to show Chris’s music as stemming as much from the late-romantic pianistic tradition, primarily that of Scriabin, as from the modernist world of Barraque or the complexist tradition of his colleagues and former countrymen Finissy and Ferneyhough. In fact, Chris has extremely wide-ranging musical tastes not explored directly in this project, ranging from Dufay to Schubert to Louis Couperin to German improvised prog band Can, and many others.
While I still struggle to come to terms with Barraque’s uncompromising and unfortunately somewhat dated musical language, the Alkan and the Szymanowski became very useful pieces for me in concert and competition, the Alkan in particular being a very appealing piece to audiences despite its relative obscurity. I played the Szymanowski first in a concert in Verbruggen hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on the 12th of March 2014, where it proved a successful pairing with a first half consisting of music from his great predecessor Chopin, which I played on a 1950’s Erard. I then played this piece again in a concert for the Austral Salon in February in 2015, then in October the same year for the finals of the ABC Young Performer of the Year awards. I most recently played it in June 2016 in the first round of the Sydney International Piano Competition, which was broadcast live on ABC classic FM. The Alkan I played less frequently, but I played it twice during the 2016 Australian National Piano Awards in September of 2016, where it helped me achieve second prize, and included it in a concert at the Queensland Conservatorium on the 14th of October alongside other works by Chris.
The first time all four of these works were programmed together, and possibly the last, was on the 6th August 2015 at the Australian National Academy of Music. The concert was given the title “Pillars”. As Chris had not written two of the movements for his Sonata, the piece was played in an incomplete 45-minute version. In its current form, the inclusion of this piece in a single concert with the other three works would, we feel, be infeasible for most practical purposes. This concert was in essence a proof of concept for my project as a whole and was a success. Those that stayed to the end of the nearly two and a half hour performance (and there were quite a few!) reported a musically satisfying and fascinating experience, despite its considerable length.
Once the Sonata was complete, Chris and I planned what we termed a “pre-premiere” of the work: a performance only for invited friends and colleagues, again at the Australian National Academy of Music. The performance took place on the 9th of October 2016. This was also a great success, and possibly a better performance overall on my part. With a few interpretative tweaks which we discussed a few months later after we had both recovered, and the insertion of one minute of bridging material into the 6th movement, Chris declared the piece complete. These concerts were both recorded in high quality audio and video.
The official public premiere was given on July 30th, 2017, in the Iwaki Auditorium, Melbourne, where it was recorded by ABC Classic FM for release on their New Waves podcast. It included a pre-concert discussion between Chris, myself, and Stephen Adams outlining some of the main conceptual features of the work.
3: Record 4 mini documentary episodes including a live performance of each of the four works alongside other historical and musical information for eventual online distribution.
This is still in the works. A major concern of mine was that I have as much performing experience as possible with these pieces before undertaking the task of recording them in this fashion. I have played the Alkan and Szymanowski enough to justify this (see section 2 above), but the fact that Chris’s Sonata was not properly complete until April 2016 delayed this process for that work. These videos will be put on YouTube, as well as my website, which I shall create at the same time. As of January 2018, these recordings have still not been made, but I hope to achieve them sometime this year.
4: Tour Europe with this program, or excerpts from it. Particularly focus on the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Poland.
Due to the incredible support and consistent effort shown to me by my friend, London-based pianist Coady Green, I did finally manage to confirm a concert in London for the Alkan Society. This took take place on the 7th of April 2017, on which occasion I played the Alkan Symphonie and the first half of the Dench Sonata, totalling 80 minutes.
I am very happy with the artistic side of my project, and I am delighted that Chris Dench and I have become better friends throughout the whole process. It has been a privilege to be involved in this incredible process, and the contribution to Australian music I think is immensely significant. The video episodes I make I hope will be the first in a series of recording projects that I undertake with the aim of gaining a wider audience on the internet. I feel that these types of creations, far from being just a package to give to concert promoters as an example of one’s work, are in fact the very stuff of our future digital society, as they already are amongst my generation, and will be the way in which classical music, and indeed all music, reaches a wider and more diverse audience. I think they will be an impressive start to my career in the way I wish to shape it. I am unhappy with my lack of success garnering performance opportunities overseas, but I am happy that I at least got to go. And of course I am very grateful to the Music Council of Australia for helping me to achieve this significant project, and to Richard Letts for his unfailing support and encouragement.
Aviva Endean, bass clarinet, 2015
Thank you once again for your kind and generous support.
Being awarded the Freedman Fellowship in 2015 provided a wonderful opportunity and resource to establish my career as a solo artist, and to further the scope of my international artistic and professional network. I wanted to use this prestigious award to generate new music (both of my own and that of other composers) as well as to broaden the possibilities for work as a soloist both in Australia and overseas. The projects that I undertook as part of my fellowship were numerous and helped me to achieve these goals in various ways.
1) In October 2015, I completed my first European tour as an independent artist, touring Pierluigi Billone’s 90 minute work for 2 bass clarinets ‘1+1=1’ to Ljubljana, London, Berlin, Cologne and Bern. This experience introduced me to a new world of opportunities in Europe, working with highly regarded concert series and presenters across Europe. I intend to build on these connections, with the aim to tour my new solo album in the coming years.
2) I commissioned a major new work for clarinet and electronics by Natasha Anderson, which was developed over the entire duration of the fellowship. The work was premiered at INLAND concert series, and recorded in November 2017. Generating, recording and refining material with Natasha was a very inspiring process as I was privy to seeing her compositional ideas develop and unfold. ‘Mote’ will be included in my performance programs interstate and in Europe in 2018
3) I recorded my first solo studio album ‘Solo for skin and air’ featuring my own compositions and improvisations. This was a challenging project, where I demanded myself to focus entirely on my own work, to make something completely new, to confront my own reservations about my work and artistic rationale, and to overcome self-confidence issues. This project allowed me to explore new artistic developments, and gave me a lot of new skills and knowledge about recording technology and techniques, so despite the challenges, I am very pleased that I saw it through. The album was recorded at Rolling Stock studios with Myles Mumford and is currently being considered for release by Norwegian label SOFA.
4) In July 2016 I made a 20 minute art-film clip for ‘Counter-Earth’ a piece of contemporary-music-theatre by Wojtek Blecharz which was commissioned by myself in partnership with BIFEM (Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music). The film clip was made in Berlin with the composer present, together with Berlin-based Polish artists Robert Mleczko (film-maker) and Yeorg Kronnagel (costume/makeup). The film is available on You Tube and Vimeo and serves as a digital iteration of this incredible work, which cannot be documented adequately with sound recording alone. The film has been shared with both my own and Wojtek’s international networks via social media platforms and has attracted very positive feedback and will provide a wonderful resource for presenters of both of our work.
There were many positive consequences of receiving the Fellowship. Through the prestige and publicity associated with the award I have received many invitations including:
- Performances and workshop presentations with TURA new music (2016/17)
- Guest lecturing/master-classes and performances at Monash University, WAAPA and Melbourne Polytechnic (2016/17)
- A commission for a new performance/installation by Ensemble Offspring (2017)
- A commission and performance for Sound Out- Canberra (2016)
- An opportunity to undertake a solo tour in Portugal, France and Spain (2016)
- Invitations to show work at Darwin Festival (2016) Instalksje-Poland (2015)
- Appointed to sit on panels for Melbourne Polytechnic, Australia Council, EG music awards.
- Garner enthusiasm and support for further grants/residencies including Creative Victoria- Creative development grant 2017, Australia Council- New Work grant 2016, OMI international residency (New York) supported by the Australia Council, Artist in residence at Sonoscopia (Porto).
- Invitation to present new work at NEXUS (2018)
All of these unexpected opportunities, as well as my fellowship projects, have helped to broaden and develop my professional and artistic networks and advance my career. Each engagement has provided an opportunity to develop new work and/or deepen my understanding of my own musical practice. In addition to this, these activities have provided an opportunity for sharing of artistic and professional knowledge, including mentoring, new collaborations, and advancement of the perception of the Australian scene both in this country and overseas.
My only advice for both musicians and The Music Trust would be to not underestimate the value of awards such as this. The Freedman Fellowship is so much more than the financial resource that is associated with it, and provided me with a boost of self-confidence and recognition that was a very productive force. I urge you to consider this when choosing a worthy recipient for future awards.
Ashley William Smith, clarinet, 2012
GOALS OF FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
To enhance my skills as a classical artist: to extend and develop myself creatively, technically and professionally as an emerging professional musician and exponent of new repertoire for clarinet and bass clarinet.
To establish an international presence and career: to showcase my skills to an international network of key figures within the contemporary music industry (including key composers, performers, pedagogues, music agents and fellow emerging contemporary artists) and to develop this international network through artistic collaboration, mentorship and personal meetings.
DESCRIPTION OF FELLOWSHIP ACTIVITIES
The fellowship program consisted of three complementary projects
- Pursuing a self-devised mentorship and performance workshopping program alongside several key clarinet composers of the last decade
Mentors included Martin Bresnick (USA), David Lang (USA), Risto Viasanen (Finland), Magnus Lindberg (USA/Finland) and Anders Hillborg (Finland).
- Touring a recital program in Finland, the United States and Australia with long-term duo partner, Australian pianist Aura Go. This recital program showcased the works of Bresnick, Lang, Lindberg and Tiensuu alongside the works of Australian composers and standard clarinet chamber repertoire. The recital tour included:
- Yale University, Oneppo Chamber Music Series (New York, USA): July 27 2013. Solo recital with Aura Go, piano: works by Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Widmann, Hillborg and Lindberg.
- Australian National Academy of Music, Recital Workshop (Melbourne Australia): August 2nd and 4th 2013
Workshopping with Aura Go, piano: works by Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Widmann, Hillborg and Lindberg.
- University of Western Australia, Artistry Recital (Perth, Australia): August 5th
Recital for solo clarinets and electronics: works by Michael Kieran Harvey (world premiere), Martin Bresnick, David Lang, Serban Nichifor and Jorg Widmann.
- Melbourne Recital Centre, Spotlight Series (Melbourne, Australia): August 7th 2013
Solo recital with Aura Go, piano: works by Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Widmann, Hillborg and Lindberg.
- University of Western Australia, Chamber! (Perth, Australia): August 13th 2013
Solo recital with Aura Go, piano: works by Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Widmann, Hillborg and Lindberg.
- Kässän Taidetalo, Virkkala Recital (Lohja, Finland): November 23rd 2013
Solo recital with Aura Go, piano: works by Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Widmann, Hillborg and Lindberg.
- Preparation of the following portfolio of audio and DVD recordings of the workshopped works for the purpose of creating an online profile and for submitting expressions of interest for performances in major national and international chamber music and new music festivals.
- Beethoven: Sonata for basset horn and piano, Op. 17: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqzaGgFUPtU
- Schumann: Phantasiestucke for clarinet and piano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM3HI3aNjfo
- Schumann: Drei Romanzen for clarinet and piano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0fI_Jdip2Y
- Berg: Vier Stucke for clarinet and piano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXPA1A5hGoc
- Widmann: Funf Bruchstucke for clarinet and piano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYDACnhnpXk
OBJECTIVES ACCOMPLISHED AS A RESULT OF THE OF THE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
To establish myself as a leading performer of new works for the clarinet: the fellowship program afforded several opportunities which played a major role in shaping both my performing and teaching careers.
- The performances in Western Australia played a major role in being offered an Artist in Residence contract and a contract for a position as the Head of Winds and Contemporary Performance at the University of Western Australia.
- The performances in Western Australia were attended by representatives from the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, which resulted in a commission for a new clarinet concerto by Lachlan Skipworth. The concerto was workshopped and recorded in April 2014 and premiered as part of the WASO Latitude series on October 1st This performance went on to win the 2015 APRA AMCOS Performance of the Year.
- The Melbourne Recital Centre Spotlight Recital was nominated and won the MRC Contemporary Master’s Award for the most outstanding work of a post-1945 work (Jorg Widmann’s Funf Bruchstucke).
- Very positive reviews of both the Melbourne and Western Australia recitals were published in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The West Australian
To undergo a period of accelerated artistic, technical and professional growth with my collaborative partner, Aura Go. The Fellowship program enabled Aura and me to establish ourselves nationally and internationally as a professional ensemble specialising in new repertoire, innovative programming and new audiences. The recital tour and portfolio of recording has played a major role in promoting our duo work to artistic directors and music festivals. Resulting solo and duo festival appearances have included Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Centre (New York, USA), Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (Norfolk, Connecticut, USA) Chamber Music Northwest (Portland, Oregon, USA), Bangalow Festival (Australia), Beijing Modern Music Festival (China).
To extend myself professionally: the Fellowship afforded the opportunity to showcase my own work as a solo performer and duo ensemble member to key figures within the contemporary classical music community and significantly assisted with developing my international network, particularly in the USA and Europe.
To bring new music to new audiences: the Fellowship afforded several opportunities to bring to Australian audiences and the Australian classical music community new music that is gaining significant attention in the Europe and the United States and to showcase new Australian music to the international new music community.
July 14-23: Performance workshopping and rehearsal: Bresnick and Lang, New Haven and New York (USA)
July 24 and 25: Portfolio recording sessions: New Haven (USA)
July 27: Yale Oneppo Recital (New Haven, USA)
July 29-30: Travel: JFK-LAX-MEL
August 2 and 4: Open workshopping: Paul Dean, Timothy Young, Australian National Academy of Music (Melbourne, Australia)
August 3: Rehearsal
August 5: Travel: PER-MEL
UWA: Artistry Recital
August 6: Travel PER-MEL
August 7: Melbourne Recital Centre Spotlight Series Recital
August 9: Travel PER-MEL
August 10-12: Rehearsal
August 13: UWA Chamber! Recital
August 20: Travel PER-MEL-LAX-JFK
November (weeks 1-2) Editing of recorded and DVD material, further rehearsal and workshopping (Lindberg).
November 10 Travel: JFK-HEL
November 15 -17 Rehearsal and workshopping: Sibelius Academy (Viasanen, Hillborg)
November 23 Kässän Taidetalo Recital (Lohja, Finland)
November 27 Travel: HEL-JFK
EXAMPLE PRESS FROM FELLOWSHIP PERFORMANCES
This new duo’s name brings up mixed memories of a contemporary music ensemble active in the 1970s and ’80s, headed by one-time music critic of this publication, Felix Werder, whose fellow artists were wholly focused on cutting-edge modernity with an emphasis on electronics and improvisation.
The new Australia Felix covers a wider range of repertoire, showing a bent for experimentation but without straining an audience’s tolerance.
Clarinettist Ashley William Smith and pianist Aura Go are high-profile graduates from the Australian National Academy of Music. Their most significant exposure to this listener has been in concerto format, but they are expert chamber musicians.
Wednesday night’s recital demonstrated their patent comfort in the duet format, opening and closing with familiar masterworks for this combination: the Three Fantasy Pieces by Schumann and the Sonata No. 2 by Brahms.
Each performance had its danger points – some near-squeaks from Smith in the third Schumann, a loss of momentum from Go near the end of the Brahms finale-variations – but the co-ordination of roles, easy melding of texture and the complementary nature of the personalities made for fine music-making.
The duo also performed Berg’s Four Pieces, a remarkable sequence that tested the players’ power at extracting sympathetic fluency from difficult material, the clarity and directness of their output a measure of their success. Go and Smith also presented their authoritative version of Jorg Widmann’s Five Fragments of 1997, available on YouTube and a flashy juxtaposition of varied colours and sound-production techniques.
REPORTS FROM THE FREEMAN JAZZ FELLOWS
Tal Cohen, piano, 2015
The Objectives of the project
- Record new material of mine in New York featuring internationally acclaimed musicians.
- To capture an artistic collaboration of Australian and American musicians of the highest calibre.
- Bring people who haven’t played music together and create an artistic platform of expression.
- Create wider exposure for myself by recording with bigger names in the jazz world
Were the Objectives achieved?
I am very confident to say that in this album, titled Gentle Giants, I have achieved my objectives and many more. I have assembled a carefully picked group that I am incredibly proud of and composed a collection of music that really allowed the musicians to express themselves in many ways.
The group involved:
Jamie Oehlers from Perth, Australia -Tenor saxophone
Greg Osby from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA – Alto saxophone
Robert Hurst from Detroit, Michigan, USA- Double Bass
Nate Winn from Detroit, Michigan, USA- Drums
Greg Osby and Robert Hurst are among the most famous jazz musicians in the world with many different jazz awards including six Grammy awards between them.
Jamie Oehlers is one of the most prominent Australian musicians and is also a long time musical collaborator of mine.
All of the musicians had arrived the day before the recording date for a short rehearsal to familiarize themselves with the music that I sent a long time before the date. I specifically wrote the music with this band in mind and I think the recording really projects that. You can certainly tell who is featured on each composition and that the tunes were certainly written with them in mind.
For example, the composition titled ‘Gavetsch’ features Greg Osby and captures his free spirit in an open undefined improvisation section and the title track– ‘The Gentle Giant’ features a well built and captivating bass solo by Robert Hurst.
The music has certainly exceeded every expectation I had and I could not imagine my compositions sounding any better. The communication between the musicians on this recording is in my opinion second to none and I could not have hoped for a more natural, engaging, dramatic and honest outing.
The results at this point are still ongoing yet I can confidently say that Gentle Giants has received a lot of attention already. It received a featured week at ABC jazz radio as well as extensive radio coverage all over Australia.
It also received quite a lot of reviews from Australian platforms, all which were very positive.
I was also motivated to make the release show the best I can and I made arrangements for Greg Osby to participate in an extensive Australian tour performing at all the major Australian festivals.
On the American front, the album has been signed to the ‘Inner circle’ music recording label, has received a 4 star review from the acclaimed Downbeat magazine (upcoming on the July 15 Downbeat issue) and is already getting radio airplay all across the country.
I am currently working on an American tour to release the album.
As a final thought- this album is something that I am very proud of. At this point it’s a matter of more people listening to it and getting more exposure for the project in the States.
In terms of Australia, it was successfully released at all the major Australian festivals to a large, engaged and supportive audience.
Freedman Award Report for Innocent Dreamer
As part of the Freedman Fellowship. ABC Jazz offered studio time to complete this duo recording involving:
Jamie Oehlers- based in Perth, Australia – tenor saxophone
Tal Cohen- based in Miami, USA – piano
Jamie and I have played together in many different scenarios all around the world but we have never done a duo recording. It’s something that we always wanted to do and this gave us the opportunity to do it.
The Objectives of the project
- Record new material of mine in the ABC studios in Sydney
- To capture an artistic collaboration between myself and Jamie Oehlers in an intimate duo setting, something that contrasts with our previous work
- Creating a spontaneous album that highlights the interplay between the two instruments/musicians
Were the Objectives achieved?
I can certainly say that the objectives for this project were achieved. We recorded in Sydney and successfully created an intimate, spontaneous record that focuses on different elements of our musical and improvisational communication. There are eleven songs on the album – four originals and seven standards that showcase the musical interplay between Jamie and myself.
The tangible results of this include a 4 star review in The Australian, extensive radio airplay in Australia and a tour of Australia and New Zealand that starts this week to promote the release of the album. This includes a sold-out show at Melbourne Recital Centre on September 23rd and ticket sales are going well in the remaining cities of the tour.
In an artistic sense, this album showcases the result of many years of collaboration between Jamie and myself, and our ability to sense the intricacies of one another’s improvisations and complement the other’s playing. It represents a part of what current Australian jazz improvisation sounds like, showcasing original compositions by myself and Jamie, and interpretations of both well-loved and lesser-known standards from the great American songbook.
Freedman Award Report for Intertwined
This was a second recording made in the ABC studios by ABC Jazz. It is a duo recording with piano and voice, and two trio tracks, with the addition of tenor saxophone.
Tal Cohen- based in Miami, USA – piano
Danielle Wertz- based in Miami, U.S.A. at the time of recording – voice
Jamie Oehlers (special guest on two songs)- based in Perth, Australia – tenor saxophone
Danielle and I have played together in many different scenarios around the U.S. and we have managed to form a special relationship between the voice and piano. Together, we came up with some arrangements and original tunes specifically for this album.
The Objectives of the project
- Record new material of mine and Danielle’s at the ABC studios in Sydney
- To capture an artistic collaboration between myself, Danielle and adding Jamie to create another dynamic
- Create an album which appeals to a wide musical audience, not only jazz fans
- To showcase improvisational interplay between piano and voice
Were the Objectives achieved?
All objectives were achieved. The reviews for the album have been fantastic, including a 5-star review from Amazon, and the response was certainly overwhelming. The album itself is a very honest representation of the music and some of the final decisions were made in the studio as part of the recording process. The music represents the outcome of our continued collaboration, showing our ability to intertwine improvisations of voice and piano with a modern sensibility. The addition of Jamie was certainly successful as he added a new dimension of creativity. The music itself has received comments and reviews that are from a variety of sources, not limited to jazz avenues, which fulfills the objective of having the project appeal to a wide musical audience.
The album itself has received a lot of play in Australia and was featured on the ABC show, Home Cooked. In addition it received many great reviews from acclaimed sources. The CD was launched in Washington USA in the ‘Garage House’ venue to a sold out crowd.
Reviews and press for Gentle Giants
Featured reviews from the album on my website linked here:
The Australian review
Album of the week at ABC
Reviews and press for Innocent Dreamer
ABC jazz album of the week- http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/dailyplanet/features/cd-of-the-week/7981944
Melbourne recital performance link- https://www.melbournerecital.com.au/events/2017/tal-cohen-and-jamie-oehlers/
Reviews and press for Intertwined
Jazz music archives
In a Blue Mood
Contemporary Fusion Magazine
Christopher Hale, bass guitar, 2012
Marc Hannaford, piano, 2013
Restate the objectives of the project, tell us something about how you went about achieving them and what you did achieve
The objectives of the project were to compose, perform, and record a set of original music with Scott Tinkler, Ellery Eskelin, and Tom Rainey. A portion of the funding from the Freedman Fellowship was also put towards advertising: I bought online banner space in Time Out New York for the month preceding the gig.
Musically the project was a complete success—there was an immediate band rapport and enough rehearsal and recording time to realize the project. The gig was also well attended, which makes me believe that the advertising was effective.
Were there consequences of your project activity that were unanticipated in your original project design?
The project acted as a catalyst for new musical relationships in New York. I now play regularly with both Tom and Ellery and have also generated musical relationships with some of their musical collaborators. Some of these connections have coalesced into groups which work on original music both from me and other members of the group.
Since undertaking the project I have performed at some of New York most renowned venues for improvised music including The Stone, Barbes, and Spectrum.
Musicians who were not involved in the project respond very favorably when they hear either about the recording, or the recording itself. This has led to even more musical relationships that have been productive in the form of new groups or other performance opportunities.
Musically, these compositions acted as catalysts for further reflection on my compositional aims and means of achieving them. More specifically, it was challenging to incorporate the rhythmically complex language that Scott and I have been working on for a number of years into a group that has never worked together in such a way to preserve both the singularity of this rhythmic language and group cohesion. My compositional solutions to these challenges have expanded my compositional practice.
We also had the opportunity to tour Australia in May/June 2015. This was Tom and Ellery’s first time to Australia. The tour was a complete success—the compositions developed in ways I hadn’t imagined, and the group found new approaches to improvisation. The tour has also begotten other performance, teaching, and composing opportunities.
What has the project done to advance your career?
I now have an established group of musical collaborators in New York. I play music regularly with Tom Rainey and Ellery Eskelin, as well as musicians they are associated with. The Australian tour also bred significant interest amongst music students in my music and processes of composition and performance.
Have there been positive consequences for other people?
For each member of the group, certainly, and also I like to think so for music students in Australia.
Tom and Ellery, although well known to Australian audiences, had never been to Australia. The tour therefore afforded them the opportunity to survey the standard of Australian student and professional musicians. They made it clear to me that the level of interest in music from both Australia and America is very high, that the standard of performance is generally high, and that overall they were extremely impressed with the amount of thought students and professionals in Australia are putting into their artistic projects.
For students, this tour afforded them an opportunity to hear Tom and Ellery in person. Many students commented positively to me on the difference between their recorded and live sounds, and also expressed how effective it was to hear Tom and Ellery speak about their playing, working in my group, and their thoughts on improvisation in general.
For Scott, this project allowed him to record and perform with two musicians he had long listened to and always wanted to perform with.
As a result of your experiences over this time, do you have useful advice or suggestions for other musicians, or for The Music Trust in its organising of the Fellowships or its support for music and musicians?
For musicians, I think it’s extremely important to push yourself to reach beyond what you are already able to do and be willing to chart territory that is unknown to you. It may feel uncomfortable, and you may not sound as you’d like, but these are sure signs that you’re improving and improvising. In my experience as a listener, player, teacher, I am often surprised and disappointed how quickly some improvising musicians forego this kind of development for the comfort of more controlled or predictable performances. In a place like Australia, where the infrastructure around improvised music is much less well established, we have an opportunity to avoid some of the pitfalls of attempting to measure artistic success only in terms of financial profitability.
Being in New York for two years has allowed me to see past the veil of romanticism that often makes the scene here appear like the be-all-and-end-all of improvised music. In fact, musicians here are in many ways just like anywhere else and it’s been helpful to dig past the initial novelty of being in New York and discover that. One major difference is the sheer number of musicians here, which for me has had the effect of focusing my artistic outlook. Unlike in Australia where it is perfectly feasible to play many different kinds of jazz in a single week, I’ve found it much more productive here to focus on my original music and collective free improvisation. This is as much due to a lack of time on most New York musicians’ part as it is to feeling somewhat disconnected to the scene I left behind. Overall, my time living and playing in New York has been extremely informative, and has contributed significantly to my artistic and scholarly practice.