When eminent jazz performer Paul Grabowsky was at school, all the other kids were into punk and disco.
So it is perhaps testament to the gravitational power of jazz that the pianist and composer never wavered from his calling.
“I got into jazz through listening to radio and also playing in a jazz band at school.
“I particularly loved the piano players, I wanted to figure out what they were doing and what I loved about it so much. I discovered it was fun and it was a challenge, because it wasn’t easy.”
He said jazz had given him a chance to express himself and master his instrument, and be “let off the leash”.
“Jazz to me has always been about freedom of expression. You need to be able to play an instrument reasonably well to play jazz convincingly. So it’s very satisfying to be able to play an instrument to a point and then use that to express yourself using something that someone else has written.”
Grabowsky is well-known for being the musical director for Tonight Live with Steve Vizard, for his many film scores, and for his role as Monash University’s Music School vice chancellor.
He said jazz had allowed him to collaborate with some of Australia’s finest artists, including recently with Kate Ceberano and now with celebrated vocalist and trumpet player Vince Jones.
“I’ve been very lucky in my life that I’ve been able to work with some really wonderful singers,” he said.
“These are friendship that go back decades. It’s really nice to have those long term musical associations, because you learn a lot...and when you get together after all those years, it’s almost like comparing notes.”
He and Jones recently co-recorded an album, Provenance, which they will perform at the Ballarat Cabaret Festival.
“Vince is a musician singer, he’s got an incredible vocal ability and a wonderful ear,” Grabowsky said.
“He thinks differently to other singers, he hears notes that he can sing partially because he can play an instrument really well.”
The duo will perform Friday night at the Ballaarat Mining Exchange. Tickets at www.ballaratcabaret.com
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