After making their venue debut at Dust Temple in August, Gold Coast group The Pete Neville Jazz Experience will return to the stage on 6 December.
“We got asked back before we had even started our second set so that was a good sign that this new band had clicked,” laughed founding member Pete Neville. “Being a Friday near the end of year – the start of the ‘party season’ – might add a little something this time around.”
After initially forming the band in Sydney, Neville found himself unwittingly being drawn away from his own project and focussing instead on outside pursuits.
“I started the first iteration of the band with friends I was studying jazz with at the Sydney Conservatorium some years ago to do a gig playing 1960s jazz tunes supporting You Am I,” he recalled.
“We played a bit around the traps back then but then moved off to other things. I toured around on percussion with jazz-rockers Trout Fishing in Quebec and Brisbane’s Resin Dogs, so the Jazz Experience took a back seat.”
After moving North to further his musical education, Neville admits he was soon caught in the seductive allure of the beauty the Gold Coast had to offer.
“I moved from Sydney to Tamborine Mountain a few years ago and have been gradually meeting local musicians,” he said. “I did a gig with fantastic local vibraphonist, Dave Kemp, at Dust Temple and loved the vibe so thought it was time to get my own band together again, but playing mainly my own compositions. After asking Dave and his bassist Liam Butler I met up with an old friend from Sydney Conservatorium, Alfredo Lopes, before I was introduced to the wonderful Martha Baartz by another musician friend who had also fled the madness of Sydney for the better quality of life up here.”
While having a fondness for jazz music in general, Neville defers to a specific period when citing inspiration for his own material.
“I’m into jazz from most eras,” he nodded, “but there is something very appealing to me and very ‘cool’ about the music that was recorded in the late 1950s and early 1960s. To my ears, it wasn’t trying to be as tricky harmonically, and some all-time great drummers like Philly Jo Jones played such great grooves and tasty solos on records of the time.
“Whether it’s Miles Davis, the Modern Jazz Quartet or a host of others – that era of jazz had a wide appeal, maybe because it’s more subdued than the preceding bebop era and not so frenetic perhaps. It was also an era when Latin American music was a big influence on jazz, and I love most things percussive. Honestly, it’s also a lot easier to get new music together with a new band if the music isn’t crazily complex. You can focus more on creating a good connection in the band and making good music for the audience.”
Jazz music has always seemed to be a genre that creates its own rules, especially when it comes to musical expression and improvisation. It is structured, yet free-flowing and has a unique ability to inspire and stimulate the senses and soul.
“The joy I get in playing jazz is that there is a structure that the whole band is on board with,” Neville smiled, “but also the freedom to express yourself in that unique moment meaning you don’t end up playing the same song the same way. You respond musically to the musical conversation that you are all having at that particular time, and the audience is in on that conversation.”
The Pete Neville Jazz Experience will be playing at Dust Temple on 6 December, hosted by Artemus Events. Online tickets $15 through artemus.com.au or $20 on the door.