A Monash University jazz pianist has impressed the judges to take top prize at the prestigious Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival.
PhD student Joe O’Connor from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music took the risk of performingSotto Voce, a dissonant ballad he wrote, as one of three pieces performed in the final round of Australia’s top jazz award. The National Jazz Awards have been an integral part of the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival since it began in 1990.
The competition required Joe to play a blues piece, a ballad and a composition by Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Paul Grabowsky or Mike Nock. For the final round he chose All Blues by Miles Davis,Peri’s Scope by Bill Evans, andSotto Voce which he performed as a solo piano piece. Joe thought it may have been a risky choice to play his own composition in the final round, but it allowed him to explore some unconventional approaches to jazz improvisation that used nearly the entire range of the piano.
Joe said it was a real honour to have received such positive affirmation from the judging panel of renowned jazz pianists Mike Nock, Paul Grabowsky and Barney McAll.
“I hold all three pianists in the highest esteem,” Joe said.
“It was a personal goal to reach the semi-finals of the competition. Winning was an unexpected bonus. I haven’t previously received any accolades based on my playing, though I won a big band composing competition a couple of years ago.”
Joe said the competition offers a great opportunity to gain exposure and recognition on a national level.
“I’m excited about the performance and recording opportunities the award will open up as well. The prize includes a gig at Stonnington Jazz Festival and an ABC Jazztrack session with Mal Stanley,” Joe said.
Joe is developing original music for a jazz piano trio as well as a quintet he has formed since commencing his PhD, researching ways that Ruth Crawford Seeger’s approach to dissonant counterpoint can inform jazz composition and improvisation.
“I’m premiering music with these ensembles for a performance at Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club in early December. I am also co-directing a newly formed Bennett’s Lane Big Band with saxophonist Tom Noonan which will take over the residency at the Melbourne Jazz Co-Op on the first Monday night of each month next year,” Joe said.
Find out more:
Open letter from Australian academics to PM: Closure of Manus Island and Nauru
An open letter calling for the immediate closure of Manus Island and Nauru offshore immigration…
Monash graduate receives Gates Cambridge Scholarship
Recent Arts graduate, Emma Nicholls has been awarded with prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship. These highly…
Two decades on, what remains of Kurt Cobain?
By Catherine Strong A few years ago a student of mine turned up to class…
Graduate Tourism Program students participate in ITB Berlin
Students in the Master of Tourism and Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management programs recently…
Youth unemployment on the agenda in Washington
Australian youth unemployment will be a Monash University student’s focus at the Spring Meetings of…
Monash University Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing
Monash University in conjunction with the Emerging Writers’ Festival is pleased to present the Monash…
Composing for the Australian screen
A public lecture by renowned Australian composer Mary Finsterer followed by a screening of the…
Tony Abbott’s ‘Reform’ of ICA – if it’s not broken why fix it?
By Marian Quartly In late December 2013 Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the formation of…
What is academic history for?
By Paula Michaels Writing on Saturday in The Age, popular historian Paul Ham launched a frontal…
Taking a stand on human dignity
Our NGO partner, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) is currently featuring a series of…
Recent migrants content with Australian way of life
Most Australians support multiculturalism and recent migrants are positive about life here, despite occasional pockets…
New Melbourne Jewish history anthology published
Melbourne’s rich Jewish history shines in a new anthology from the Monash University Australian Centre for…