Vista Needle National Tour

Daniel Susnjar and I spent the last few weeks on the road premiering our new project, Vista Needle: both a vehicle for our own music and to explore some interpretations and re-compositions of 20th century classical music from Paul Hindemith to Federico Mompou.

We had a blast making music with some of the countries finest bass players - Chris Hale in Melbourne, Thomas Botting in Sydney and Canberra, and Pete Jeavons in Perth.

Thanks to Eric Pozza for a nice review of our gig at ANU on 13th April!

Thanks to the Melbourne Jazz Co-Op, Alec Hunter and Laurence Inkpen at ANU and the Perth Jazz Society for putting us on. Daniel, Pete and I spent a day at Villanova Studios in Perth laying down some tracks at the end of the run - some of that will be up soon!

Duo with Judy Bailey

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Next week I'm overjoyed to be playing a set of free improvisations with the lovely Judy Bailey in the Sydney Conservatorium's West Recital Hall.

We first played together during a series of two piano concerts way back in 2011 and discovered an intuitive, empathetic connection that somehow has taken us a while to find the opportunity to revisit.

Since my undergrad lessons with her at the Con, I've always been blown away by Judy's incredible touch and command of the piano, and the joyous, incessantly inventive energy she brings to making music.

During our sessions I'd sometimes have to stop Judy mid song to ask her what voicing she was playing, only to find it was one I knew...somehow she managed to always extract the magic out of the notes!

6:30pm Monday 23rd November, Recital Hall West. We're also recording the night with the view of releasing a live record - hope you can join us!

http://music.sydney.edu.au/events/new-music-for-two-pianos-23-11-2015

Thanks to Jim Rolon for taking this great polaroid shot of Judy as part of a focus series on Australian Composers - http://www.cutcommonmag.com/jim-rolon-and-the-composer-polaroid-series/

Prepared Piano: CagePiano App and Benoît Delbecq

I've just discovered this great CagePiano app - it randomises some of Cage's typical prepared piano techniques and the notes onto which they are applied, and places them on a 6x5 grid. It's pretty fun to play around with and randomly tapping away at different sounds makes a refreshing break from writing solo piano music...here's a little demo!

As a relative newcomer to prepared piano, I've been digging Cage's Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (1946-48). Cage's three pages of instructions for the positioning of forty-five various screws, bolts, rubbers, plastic and an eraser offer up a smorgasbord of new sounds, and, for me anyway, inspire some fresh compositional ideas.

French pianist Benoît Delbecq utilises some of these techniques in his remarkable solo record Circles and Calligrams (2010), fusing a colourful mosiac of prepared sounds with intelligent, exploratory free improvisation. On the second track, Ando, Delbecq flawlessly maintains a hypnotic left hand ostinato containing three separate rhythmic and sonic motives while dancing between chromatic, angular lines and soft, lush chords and further prepared piano sounds in the right hand solo. Later in the record, Fireflies offers a slightly more rhythmically energetic rendition of the same sort of techniques.

ABC Session with Jamie Oehlers

After a couple of months studying and traveling overseas I headed into the ABC in Sydney last week to lay down some new music with Jamie Oehlers, Thomas Botting and Tim Firth for Jazztrack with Mal Stanley.

I always enjoy working in new collaborations and it was great to have Jamie involved after the few short chances we've had to play together. Huge thanks to James Kennedy and Henry Rasmussen for engineering the session - it'll be broadcast on ABC Jazz in the near future!

Photos courtesy of the ABC.

In Tandem, At Twilight - Contemporary Dance Collaboration with Lisa Barry

My sister Lisa recently graduated from the Contemporary Dance Program at QUT - Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance Performance).

We'd been talking about working on a project together for a while, and Lisa had the idea for this piece as part of one of her assessments. She was interested in exploring the connection between music and dance, and the ways in which they could inform each other through improvisation. We got together one rainy afternoon at the QUT campus in Brisbane and workshopped a few ideas; just Lisa, Jill and I improvising using this idea of the two dancers' position relating to the registers of the two parts on the piano.

15 minutes later we'd pretty much come up with the final piece, which we refined separately over the next few days and is ultimately what you see here. It was a pretty inspiring process and we're looking forward building on the collaboration into the future...so stay tuned!

Choreography by Lisa Barry
Performed by Lisa Barry and Chiu-Ju Wang
Music by Steve Barry

"Puzzles" Launch Oct 17th, New Zealand Tour and Wangaratta and Queenstown Jazz Festivals

It's going to be a crazy few weeks with the launch of my latest record, Puzzles, a tour of New Zealand and performances at the Wangaratta and Queenstown Jazz Festivals!

Puzzles Quartet Album Launch @ SIMA, October 17

I'm happy to announce that my second album, Puzzles, will be launched at SIMA in Sydney on Friday October 17th! Alex Boneham, Tim Firth, Dave Jackson and I flew down to Melbourne to record at Niko Schauble's Pughouse Studios in February, generously donated as part of a prize I received at the National Jazz Awards last year. Copies will be available on the night and from then on through BandcampHelping me propel the music into the ether will be Dave Jackson - alto, Thomas Botting - bass, and Tim Firth - drums.

This week Alex has accepted a place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz - a two year Masters program based in Los Angeles that counts Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter as part of the faculty. Al and I started playing together when I first crossed the ditch in 2009, and countless gigs and road trips later I'm glad to count him as one of my closest mates and comrades in music. Good luck bro!! 

NEW ZEALAND LAUNCH TOUR OCTOBER 22-29

I'm making a short launch tour of New Zealand later this month, which includes a couple of performances at the Queenstown Jazz Festival.

Oct 22 - Havana, Wellington (Umar Zakaria - bass, Reuben Bradley - drums)
Oct 24-26 - Queenstown Jazz Festival (Roger Manins - tenor, Brett Hirst - bass, James Waples - drums)
Oct 28 - Orange Studio, Christchurch (Jimmy Rainey - tenor, Michael Story - bass, Joe McCallum - drums)
Oct 29 - CJC, Auckland (Roger Manins - tenor, Cam McArthur - bass, Ron Samsom - drums)

WANGARATTA JAZZ FESTIVAL 2014

I'm thrilled to be a part of this year's Wangaratta Jazz Festival for the first time as a leader, as well as performing with some of my favourite groups and musicians. Tickets available here.

Nov 1 - Steve Barry Quartet, Jazz at the Gateway 5-6pm
Nov 1 - Andrew Dickeson Quintet, St. Pat's Hall, 8-9pm
Nov 1 - Andrew Gander Quartet, WPAC Hall, 9-10pm
Nov 2 - Andrew Dickeson Quintet, Jazz at the Gateway, 12-1pm

It's also going to be another sensational year at the National Jazz Awards. I'm excited to see two of my longest musical comrades in the finals, Carl Morgan and Peter Koopman (with whom I had my first experience of Australian jazz at Wangaratta in 2007), as well as local Sydney heroes Paul Mason and Oli Thorpe.

Japan Collaboration

In April of this year Dave Jackson and I travelled to Japan to record an album with two outstanding Japanese musicians: drummer Ko Omura and bassist Yoshio Suzuki (formerly of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers). I'm excited to announce the album will be released on the Japanese label "Studio Songs" in February 2015 - more info coming soon.

Andy Gander Quartet Tour

This month I'm also doing a short tour with Australia drumming legend Andrew Gander and his quartet with Carl Morgan on guitar and Brett Hirst on bass. 

Oct 15 - Hippo, Canberra
Oct 16 - Smiths Alternative Bookshop, Canberra
Oct 30 - Venue 505, Sydney
Nov 16 - VJ's, Chatswood, Sydney

All the best until next time!

Patience - Commission for Two Pianos

With Natalia Ricci and Daniel Rojas

Last night I was thrilled to see Daniel Rojas and Natalia Ricci perform a composition of mine for two pianos at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Verbruggen Hall.

The piece is a product of my PhD studies, which explore ways to facilitate improvisation at the piano through developing a contemporary, creativity-focussed repertory for pianists.

While Daniel is well known as improviser it was close to the first time Natalia had improvised in public - although you wouldn't have guessed it!

A recording of the performance is on its way, and more music for two pianos is coming soon...!

Jeremy Rose - Iron in the Blood

Last weekend I was honoured to play a movement from Jeremy Rose's work for Chamber Orchestra "Iron in the Blood", inspired by Robert Hughes' book "The Fatal Shore", on the arrival of Europeans in Australia. It was also my very first gig on Harpsichord!

It was performed by the Conservatorium of Music Modern Music Ensemble, conducted by Daryl Pratt and recorded for the ABC - broadcast date coming soon.

Check out Jeremy's diverse plethora of musical projects at http://jeremyrose.earshift.com.

Monday Jam Session/Games Night at 505

I'm excited to announce the start of a new jam session at 505 on Monday nights! Each week I'll be joined by some of Australia's finest bass players and drummers for a short set of piano trio before we open up the session, and occasionally we'll also feature the music of a celebrated jazz composer. The last two weeks have been a great success with a really fun and creative community vibe.

Best of all it's free entry, and there's a huge selection of board games and 505's extensive and delicious food and drink menu to keep you entertained and replete.

Here's a taster from a previous session with Tom Botting and Max Alduca on bass, and Andrew Gander on drums.

See you Mondays from 8pm!