Piano fiend and enigmatic genius singer-songwriter, Hue Blanes (PBS Young Elder of Jazz 2017 and 2017 Green Room multiple nominee) recently released his sophomore record, 'Holiday', a darkly wonderful song cycle full of modern poetry.
Hue’s sound sits somewhere outside of the usual genre boxes, yet somewhere in all of them; jazz, classical, art-song, pop. It is like Father John Misty, Jeff Buckley, Bach and David Foster Wallace all having an existential crisis in a room somewhere.
"The album was written while I was living with a schizophrenic golfing marijuana shaman," begins Hue about the life of 'Holiday', "who spent eight hours a day shaking maracas on his knees whilst massaging himself and giving complex advice on posture and world politics to the other housemates and myself… Things needed to change.
"I wrote songs and got some new housemates. Meanwhile the shaman is living in a volcano in Nicaragua and having a great time and I'm releasing the album three years later and still in the same house.”
Hue has also encountered a number of amazing local jazz musicians during his journey. Here he lists five who have inspired him. “I love it when I see some new talent.
"Like, at an unexpected late-night jam session somewhere and it always inspires me to play and practice and write some more music. These guys are national artists, but a lot of them live in Melbourne.”
1. Olivia Chindamo
A virtuosic jazz singer who is already one of James Morrison’s favourite singers having worked with him many times around the country. She can shred the changes faster and with more precision than most instrumentalists including myself and is a very kind and charitable person.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with her on her first album, 'Keep An Eye On Spring', which featured Ross Irwin, Greame Lyall, Phil Rex, Ben Edgar and Sam Bates.
2. Joe O'Connor
A supremely gifted Queenslander who has a vast knowledge of harmony that rivals Messiaen or Schoenberg. He has a wonderful sound, is a gifted composer and incidentally is a decent tennis player too. His pieces often use methods of composition that he invents himself like inventing mathematical intervals of rhythm or harmony and using shapes as inspiration.
He also takes old styles of pieces like the ‘Madrigal’ and develops the form in his own way. Winner of the PBS Young Elder of Jazz Award in 2016, he also is gifted in the art of academia and is already at 26 a Doctor of Music.
3. Tal Cohen
A fiery speedster on the piano. He plays like a combination of McCoy Tyner and Robert Glasper. Originally from Israel, he has played with the Perth cats like Jamie Oehlers and now resides in Chicago.
4. James Macaulay
A poetic, chess-playing intellect and much like the great beat poets of the Dada he plays music and writes like a modern beatnik. He is a supremely honest soul who plays the trombone like he’s talking. Able to write a sentence of prose at the drop of a hat, his phrases are like the improvisations of a painter with supreme form, colour but with a deep mystery of truth and emotion.
Check out his only album so far ‘Three Minute Blitz’. He had a deep connection with the late Allan Browne and they loved playing together.
5. Angus Radley
Is a young, 20-year-old bass player who is a great performer. A VCASS graduate you will see his name everywhere soon on jazz billboards and electronic music platforms alike. His Soundcloud account is well frequented. He can perform modern sounds of trip hop and then is equally comfortable playing walking bass in 7/4.
I was lucky enough to teach him at the Steiner School in Yarra Junction with Max Missingham on drums. Those guys have a maturity and talent way beyond their years that I could only dream of having when I was at that age.