Tag Archives: Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music


Enrico Rava

Enrico Rava                       (Image supplied)


The Monash Sessions: Enrico Rava, Thursday 30 October at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne

It has become a tradition for Monash University to arrange for its students of improvised music to learn from some of the world’s great jazz musicians, either by having them visit or by taking the students overseass. The results of these working sessions have resulted in significant recordings in The Monash Sessions project — a recording initiative by Associate Professor and Head of School, Robert Burke, and Jazzhead.

Now, before Italy’s trumpet maestro Enrico Rava makes his headline appearance at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, Jazzhead is thrilled to announce the release of the 11-track album The Monash Sessions: Enrico Rava. The album will effectively be launched twice, on Thursday 30 October at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne and on the following evening at Wangaratta. Rava, in Australia for the first time, will be joined by staff and students.

In December last year, 35 jazz students from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music travelled to the Monash University Prato Centre in Italy to undertake an intensive three-week performance unit. As part of their study, students were given the opportunity to perform and record with Rava, one of the seminal figures of the European jazz scene.

Rava, an ECM artist, has released over 50 albums during his career, performing alongside greats such as Gil Evans, Cecil Taylor, Joe Henderson, John Abercrombie, Pat Metheny, and Dave Douglas.

The Monash Sessions: Enrico Rava was mixed and mastered at the Sonoria Recording Plant in Prato, Italy, by Andrea Benassai, and produced by Robert Burke and Mirko Guerrini.

It features music faculty members Paul Grabowsky (piano), Rob Burke and Mirko Guerrini (saxophones), Stephen Magnusson (guitar) as well as students Josh Kelly (alto), Paul Cornelius (tenor), Stephen Byth (tenor), pianists Daniel Mougerman and Joel Trigg, bassists Josh Manusama and Hiroki Hoshino, and drummers Rob Mercer, Cameron Sexton and Zeke Ruckman.

Jazzhead describes this album, recorded over two days, as having “a distinct Italian approach”, and being “relaxed but distinctly intense”. “Noted are the beautiful trumpet sound and passionate lyrical lines produced by Rava, conveying potent meaning and harmonic perfection.”


Oct 30 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne
Oct 31 WPAC Theatre, Wangaratta Jazz Festival


Students from The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University

Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music students from Monash University perform the music of Charles Lloyd.

PICTORIAL UPDATE: Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Saturday 31 May, 2014 at The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre

Festivals are about more than just providing a feast of music. Through masterclasses and conversation sessions they perform an educative role — for lovers of music and students taking the rocky road to becoming working musicians.

Over recent years it has been hard to keep count of how many young Australian jazz musicians have moved to New York City or to cities in Europe to study and gain experience. Many return only on visits. It’s fair to say these musicians are a significant export.

At The Salon yesterday evening as part of Explorations in Jazz, three groups of Monash University students from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music had a chance to show what they had learned in some intensive one-hour sessions with visiting jazz greats Charles Lloyd, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland.

Michael Tortoni at The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre

Michael Tortoni at The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre

Melbourne International Jazz Festival artistic director Michael Tortoni opened proceedings and had a chance to hear the result before heading to the Reverence Hotel in Footscray, where the Horns of Leroy were performing as part the MIJF’s first foray out in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Rob Burke

Rob Burke

Associate Professor Rob Burke then introduced Charles Lloyd, who spoke briefly about the time he, Rogers and Harland had spent with the students and about jazz as “music of freedom and wonder”.

Then each group played two Lloyd tunes — Fish Out of Water, Blow Wind, Little Peace, Passing Through, Sweet Georgia Bright and Forest Flower.

Students from The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University

Reuben Rogers introduces students from Monash University

Group 2 had the advantage of being joined by Rogers and Harland, which really provided a solid foundation and kept things moving.

Students from The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University

Reuben Rogers enjoys sitting in with students from Monash University

This was a short concert, but its effect will no doubt linger for these young musicians.

Eric Harland hits it off with a student from Monash University

Eric Harland hits it off with a student from Monash University

Audiences of the future will reap the benefits of insights gathered during the learning and the performing by these students, who have had another valued opportunity to work with experienced mentors in improvised music.


Students from The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University

Charles Lloyd thanks the students from Monash University


George Lewis

George Lewis                    Image by Michael Hoefner


George and Mary, Monash Art Ensemble with George Lewis, Mary Finsterer, Paul Grabowsky and Gian Slater

Work is necessary to help pay the bills, if for no other, more exalted reason, but sometimes it gets in the way of what we value highly in life. That waffle amounts to my lament that I have to work tomorrow night — Saturday, August 16 — because I will miss a great concert.

But you can go.

One of the definite highlights of this year’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival was the performance in which the Monash Art Ensemble (previously known as Shapeshifter) teamed with US bassist/composer Mark Helias at The Forum upstairs.

The ensemble tackled Helias’s challenging compositions with zest and great competence, delivering a compelling performance that demonstrated how well this collaboration could work.

The ensemble continues to break new ground this weekend by allowing students and staff from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music to join veteran players of the Australian Art Orchestra in another exciting musical venture.

Tomorrow night, in its “biggest challenge yet”, the MAE will perform the premiere of an as yet untitled work written especially for the ensemble by a giant of contemporary improvised music, US composer George Lewis, who is on his first visit to Australia.

The ensemble, joined by Lewis on trombone and electronics and guest vocalist Gian Slater, will also play new versions of his recent pieces including Tractatus, Triangle, Fractals and Angry Birds.

Composer, philosopher and writer Professor George Lewis is now on the faculty of Columbia University. He has performed with every major voice in the world of experimental and improvised music during the last 40 years, and has increasingly turned his considerable imagination to composing for various ensembles in the US and Europe.

The concert at Monash University — entitled George and Mary — will also feature a world premiere of Aerea by Mary Finsterer, who is regarded by MAE Musical Director and founding Artistic Director of the Australian Art Orchestra Paul Grabowsky, as one of Australia’s most original musical voices.

Finsterer was commissioned by the Monash Academy of Performing Arts to compose this piece for the MAE.

Mary Finsterer

Mary Finsterer                  (Image from Southern Highland News)

Mary Finsterer’s work has won many awards, including the prestigious Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize in 2009 for her work inspired by Jorge Luis Borges, In Praise Of Darkness. In 2006, Mary received a Churchill Fellowship to compose alongside Marco Beltrami for the blockbuster movie Die Hard 4.

Describing the work, Finsterer says, “Aerea reflects on that slight sense of deja vu you might feel while looking down from an aeroplane window which comes in part from the shifting correspondences between the world below and your own. You start to notice relationships in abstract things that recur, oddly, not only from one shape to another, but also within the same shape.

“Aerea takes this idea of shifting entities as a metaphor to generate dramatic twists and turns of movement and gestural interplay as the music unfolds from one passage to the next. In the music I have composed, figures are repeated and multiplied, and so are motions. As ideas echo from one instrument to another, they are guided by a musical narrative that works to propel them through time and spaces.”

At the concert MAE will also launch a self-titled debut CD, Monash Art Ensemble, at the concert. The album features two never before recorded Paul Grabowsky epics, Variations ‘d’un goût étranger’ on a theme by Marin Marais (2000) and Tall Tales (2010).


Saturday 17 August at 7:30pm
Tickets: $20 – $25
Venue: Music Auditorium, Building 68 Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University Wellington Road, Clayton

Bookings and enquiries 03 9905 1111 or Monash Academy of Performing Arts website

For more event information visit the Monash Art Ensemble website