Drummer Alex Masso, of the Sydney band The Vampires, says it's hard to describe their style of music.
“I'm always hesitant to do so because it's hard without labels, but some people have described it as world-roots jazz. I guess we grasp each of those terms, but we're not really any of those particularly.
"I guess for me it's just jazz. It's coming out of the jazz tradition in a way, but it's drawing on lots of influences from around the world. And it's always changing.”
The Vampires released their first album, 'South Coasting', in 2008 and Alex thinks their music has evolved a lot since then.
“All of our playing has evolved, the compositions of the group have evolved. But I think the main thing that makes this music interesting is that it's the interaction of four people. It was the same people ten years ago, but we've spent so much time playing together that it really changes things for this type of music.”
The Vampires' latest album was released in 2017 and is a collaboration with West African musician Lionel Loueke. “That was a big, ambitious project. Which is normal for us, because we like to be a bit ambitious with our tours and albums. But that was actually the biggest thing we've ever tried.
“It basically came about because we'd just finished our fourth album and we were talking about what we were going to do for the next one. So we started brainstorming about who in the whole world we would really love to play with. And we started talking about Lionel, because we all love his music and we could picture him fitting in.
“He's a unique musician. He's also from the jazz tradition but he's from Benin in Africa, so he's got a really strong influence of that. So we contacted him and said: 'Would you like to come to Australia?' and sent some links to our music, and he said 'okay'.
“So we had to prepare like crazy so that he could arrive one day, start a national tour the next day, and then spend two days in the studio after that. And he got here and just like we had imagined, he slotted in and brought this amazing virtuosity and skill, but also humility. It was lucky in a way.”
Most recently, The Vampires were shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize alongside a stack of talented acts including legend Paul Kelly. “It's pretty unbelievable. It came out of the blue, because when you're jazz musicians you go around doing jazz musician things and playing jazz venues.
“Usually instrumental music isn’t really considered. The nice thing about that award is that it's about a group of people listening to music and regardless of genre, just considering it on its merits.”
The Vampires Tour Dates
Fri 16 Mar - Conservatorium Of Music (Wollongong) Sat 17 Mar - Venue 505 (Sydney) Sun 18 Mar - The Jazzlab (Melbourne) Mon 19 Mar - The Wheatsheaf Hotel (Adelaide) Wed 21 Mar - Morrison's Jazz Club (Mount Gambier) Thu 22 Mar - JMI Live (Brisbane) Fri 23 Mar - Tanks Arts Centre (Cairns) Sat 24 Mar - Jetty Theatre (Coffs Harbour) Sun 25 Mar - The Byron Theatre (Byron Bay)