It's a long way between the regimented compositions of classical music to the uninhibited and raucous strains of gypsy jazz, but Sydney duo Mimosa have found a way.
Mimosa is a husband-and-wife duo comprised of guitarist Morgan Haselden and violinist Phoebe O'Shea, who met at Sydney Conservatorium where they were both studying classical music. Together, they reinvigorate the gypsy-jazz coupling of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. “We both studied classically then when we finished we were going out for about a year before we started playing music with each other,” Phoebe says.
“When we started playing we did arrangements of stuff we've always liked, so stuff from 'Buena Vista Social Club' and the 'Amelie' soundtrack. Then we got to a stage where we were a bit stuck for repertoire and Morgan had learnt about Django from the Con, so he thought that could be a genre that would suit our instruments and be a bit of fun.”
Taking their name not from the alcoholic beverage but Mimosa Rocks National Park where they spent a lot of time together, Mimosa are getting ready for their upcoming performance at OzManouche Festival at the Brisbane Jazz Club, which also features Sebastien Gineaux and George Washingmachine. “We're really stoked to do it,” Phoebe says.
“My family is coming to watch us because they've never had a chance to hear us play, so that's really exciting. Then to be playing in front of both acts, but especially Sebastien. At first we both felt a bit sick,” she laughs, “because Sebastien is a monster: he's just an amazing player.
“We feel really chuffed to be asked and since we've gotten used to the idea that we're going to be playing beforehand on both nights, we've put our heads down and bums up to try and do something that's just fun. We're really looking forward to it, it should be good.”
For their set at OzManouche, Phoebe says she and Morgan will be playing a tight set of their own arrangements of standard gypsy-jazz tunes, as well as some classical songs just to mix things up a little. “Everything is improvised,” she says, “we don't have any originals, that's something we're going to work on next year.
“We're doing arrangements, and merging songs. A couple of songs we've been trying to do intricate arrangements of them, and singing is a new thing for us as well so we're going to put some singers in there. And we'll be doing just a small touch of the classical just to make it a diverse programme.”
Mimosa have already released two albums, one of strictly classical music and the other being their first gypsy-jazz record. Phoebe says she and Morgan are hoping to put out a new album next year featuring both their own arrangements of lesser-known gypsy jazz, and original compositions. “We'd like to do another one that is a mixture of different repertoires that you don't necessarily hear, and some originals as well.
"That's the plan for next year; we were supposed to do it this year but we've been a bit lazy and also working on other stuff. It's one of those things where we say, 'next week we have to start work on this', then it's 'meh, we'll do it next year'.”
Fri 25 Nov - OzManouche @ Brisbane Jazz ClubSat 26 Nov - OzManouche @ Brisbane Jazz ClubSat 2 Dec - The Farm (Ewingsdale)Sun 3 Dec - 5 Church St (Bellingen)