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WA jazz scholars take on Europe

A SCHOLARSHIP offered by jazz great James Morrison and an impromptu performance has resulted in a new album and a European tour for four young Western Australian musicians.

Matthew Jodrell, Troy Roberts, Andrew Fisenden and Dane Alderson are all past winners of the James Morrison Jazz Scholarship and make up part of Mr Morrison’s band that recorded On The Edge and will be touring Europe with him.

Other musicians Simon Stockhausen and Sunil de Silva fill out the group.

And instead of grinding their way up the German autobahns in a fried-out kombi, the musicians will be hitting the road in BMWs, courtesy of the Bavarian carmaker’s sponsorship of the tour.

The tour, which includes Germany, Vienna and Prague, will be a taster for festival organisers in the lead up to the busy season.

The group will be performing at the Onyx Bar on October 16 with Sydney-based singer Emma Pask before heading to Europe.

Mr Morrison told WA Business News that the scholarship had been designed to help up and coming jazz musicians further their career.

“We started off offering a $10,000 cash prize and then thought that helping them put together an album would be more beneficial,” he said.

“With the technology that’s around today you can record an album in your bedroom so we’ve gone back to the cash prize,” he said.

Besides that prize winners also receive an instrument from Yamaha, which is one of the scholarship’s sponsors.

That was particularly handy for bass player Dane Alderson who had his bass guitar stolen just before he was due to audition for the scholarship. He had to perform using a borrowed instrument.

History shows that Western Australia has a higher representation than other States among the scholarship winners.

Mr Morrison put that down to the jazz course offered by the WA Academy of Performing Arts in Mt Lawley.

“It’s a great forum for jazz musicians to get together,” he said.

Mr Morrison said his latest album came about from an impromptu performance with the four scholarship winners while he was performing with WAYJO.

“While we were doing a performance with WAYJO they said why didn’t we get some of the scholarship winners up,” he said.

“We’d never played together as a band and it was just magic.”

Besides his scholarship, Mr Morrison also runs his own independent jazz record label Morrison Records.

That company has played a part in helping out aspiring musicians along the way.

Mr Morrison said he tried to keep business and music separate.

“I don’t do business while I’m on the stage. To me music is all about the performance. The business is the rest of the time,” he said.

“You’ve got to review what you’re doing. If you don’t review you can go way past the point at where you realise something isn’t working or you can miss opportunities.”

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