AUSTRALIAN TOUR: Alex Stuart Quintet
The title of this post will mean little to many, but it alludes to the first Lonely Planet guide that I ever used, South-East Asia on a Shoestring, which accompanied me on the trek up through the wilds of Java and Sumatra and beyond many, many years ago.
But I digress. We have come to expect — and look forward to — visits home by expatriate musician Alex Stuart from his adopted home in France.
The guitarist (www.alexstuartmusic.com/) is back from Paris this month and joins some of Australia’s top jazz musicians to launch his new album Place to Be. Stuart moved to France in 2005 after graduating from the ANU School of Music in Canberra.
His Australian tour follows the album’s launch in May at Paris’s Sunset Jazz Club. The album, released by the French label Gaya / Abeille Musique, has received many enthusiastic critical responses there, including Nouvelle-Vague magazine’s “balanced to perfection … one of the best jazz albums of the year – 5 stars” and national radio station France Musique’s “an absolutely superb album … music that shimmers”.
In Australia, ABC Jazz made it a “feature album”, while The Australian’s John McBeath praised it and gave it 4 out 5 stars.
Stuart has been immersed in the rich and varied musical cultures of the Paris jazz scene and, through a residency in Kolkata, in the Hindustani classical tradition. He is well recognised in Europe, known for his 2010 album, Around, and winning the prestigious 2011 Révelation prize at the Jazz à Juan jazz festival. In 2012 he played at the Wangaratta Festival and in 2013 he was nominated for the Freedman Jazz Scholarship.
Stuart says he welcomes opportunities to return to Australia, the country that has influenced his music in many ways and “has also directly inspired several of my compositions, most recently the Place to Be track Cuttagee, Wapengo, which comes from fond memories of the NSW Far South Coast”.
Describing Place to Be as an “ode to cultural openness”, Stuart says he finds inspiration in many places, “including the jazz tradition, contemporary jazz, African and South American grooves, rock and post-rock, Indian and Balkan music, Australia, life in Paris’s 19th arrondissement and the sea and surfing”.
For his quintet on tour, Stuart Alex has three-time Bell Jazz Awards winner Julien Wilson on saxophone, ARIA award winner and founder of the band Wanderlust, Miroslav Bukovsky on trumpet, winner of several Bell and other jazz awards Jonathan Zwartz on double bass, and on drums Tim Firth, who won the 2011 National Jazz Award at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.
Alex Stuart’s tour dates:
- Tuesday 21 October: MJC / Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, 25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne
- Wednesday 22 October: Venue 505, 280 Cleveland St Surry Hills, Sydney
- Saturday 25 October: Wollongong Conservatorium of Music, Wollongong
- Sunday 26 October: Zephyrs Jazz, Four Winds Windsong Pavilion, Barragga Bay, (near Bermagui) NSW
- Monday 27 October: The Street Theatre, Canberra
Alex will also play as a quartet at MONA and other venues in Tasmania between 30 October and 1 November.