In a time when people and societies have been defined by their separation, four notable musicians and friends celebrate being together at the same time, in the same place, in a new musical collaboration.
Making the most of a short window of time together in Perth, Western Australia in mid 2021, Jessica Carlton, Alana Macpherson, Kate Pass and Talya Valenti recorded a new album of improvisational jazz titled ‘Undeniable’ to be released on May 27, which includes a launch show at The Ellington Jazz Club, Perth on Wednesday 1 June.
Kate Pass (double bass, who lives in Bedford) and Talya Valenti (drums/percussion, Bayswater) have always lived in Perth; Jessica Carlton (trumpet, Mt Lawley) moved from Melbourne after the birth of her first child, and Alana Macpherson (alto sax/flute) was visiting her hometown before jetting back to complete her Masters of Music in Graz, Austria.
‘Undeniable’ equally features all four members of the group as both composers and improvisers. The album represents the junction at which they met in life and music, each of them coming from very different backgrounds both personally and musically.
Their deeply personal stories are interwoven through the album, ranging from the loss of people who light up the world, the feminist movement in China – dedicated to the women who were censored when trying to share their stories as part of the #MeToo movement, and wanderings through the national parks of Boorloo.
Stylistically, the sounds are inspired by Ornette Coleman and the early free jazz movement of the 1960s. This ensemble brings a fresh take on this music, as well as providing a modern insight into the many possibilities of the chord-less quartet.
The album is a snapshot of their time together at one of the most undeniably challenging times for the music industry, the artists prioritised encouraging and supporting each other musically, appreciating everyone’s unique musical perspective.
The outcome is an album linked by its ‘togetherness’ – nine tracks composed by each of the four members, articulating each artist’s unique improvisational voice, so that while their styles may vary and the works written by the individuals, the album is tied as a collective work.
There’s an underlying theme in ‘Undeniable’ of ‘unaffected by the perception of others’, echoing Coleman’s “I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody. I just want to be as human as I can get.” For the quartet, they approached this album with a desire to show who they were as musicians and people in a moment in time. Recognising that as musicians, working through the emotions that are provoked by the perception of others – whether real or perceived – is one of the biggest ongoing challenges.
Trumpeter Jessica Carlton says: “It’s not about proving anything to anybody, and perhaps it’s not even about proving anything to ourselves, but about capturing this moment in time – a time of living through a global pandemic, going through big life changes, and discovering who we are as musicians – and knowing that we will always have this documentation of us.”
Despite the variety of compositional styles and influences, the album carries the stories of these artists, and invites listeners to connect with their approach to making jazz music.
All graduates of WAAPA, Macpherson, Pass, and Valenti have been playing together for over 10 years. Macpherson and Carlton met in Melbourne during a jazz festival in 2012. Macpherson says of the collaboration: “For first time we were all living in the same place. This is where the idea of ‘same place, same time’ comes from, which is one of the track names on the album,” she explains.
“We started to compose music individually and workshopped it together, eventually developing an album worth of new tunes to record. Lots of late-night rehearsals, performances, meetings, dinners, recording, mixing, mastering, and Zoom sessions later… and we have an album that we are all proud of and excited to release.”
‘Undeniable’ is out on May 27 digitally and on CD and will be launched at The Ellington Jazz Club on June 1 with saxophonist Simon Charles stepping in on saxophones as Alana has returned to Austria.
The album was funded in part by the Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport, and Cultural Industries (DLGSC).