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Byron Shire
September 25, 2022

Vibing Up with Jazz

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This Sunday sees Australian jazz luminaries gather in Lismore for a very special concert and workshop. Playing the music of Ken Stubbs, fellow musicians Paul Grabowsky, Simon Barker and Brett Hirst step forward to share their talents.

According to Paul Grabowsky, jazz musicians ‘share a language; although there will be a rehearsal of some kind, we generally don’t need to. With music like this it’s about the personality of the players and when you play you just adjust to work in with them.’

Grabowsky has been at the forefront of music and performance since he began his career. As he admits, ‘I have been lucky. I have been a festival director, and I’ve done this and that, and it’s enabled me to not have to do gigs that I may not want to do. Like I don’t do weddings. A lot of my colleagues do because they have to. I feel lucky that I don’t have to.’

Grabowsky has always had a fairly multidisciplinary approach.

‘I am based at Monash University in Melbourne, and I am the director of the Academy of Performing Arts. I run Monash Art ensemble. It’s a collaboration between the students and teachers.’

As a player, Grabowsky is an advocate of collaborative works.

‘I love collaborating and working with people who challenge my way of thinking. I have to have my brain challenged. And to be made to do things that are outside of my comfort zone. Anybody who is half my age is bound to have ideas that I haven’t thought of so I always look forward to playing with young musicians. When I was young I learnt a lot from older players. I would like to think that part of the wonderful music that we play is the ability to refresh yourself by playing with young people.

‘I encourage young musicians to listen widely and deeply, to explore traditions in current practice, to be very self-critical and to work very hard.’

Being self-critical is extremely important if you are going to evolve as a player.

‘I think that being self-critical is essential – I listen back to my playing. I am aware of what I am doing, and I try to be aware of that. I look at these things as evolutionary – I arrived at a certain way of doing things quite a long time ago. I don’t wish to change the way I sound – I am happy with that – but I do want to get better at it.’

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