Julien Wilson

Saxophonist

2017 – Europe

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2017 – Europe

It’s confirmed. Stu Hunter is taking The Migration, a ten piece ensemble featuring some of Australia’s finest musicians, to Germany to participate in Jazzahead in Bremen in late April. I’m putting out feelers for other opportunities to play my own music and collaborate with local musicians in Europe between Easter and early May. Please contact info@julienwilson.com if you would like to make enquiries or suggestions.   In the meantime, ARC, my new larger ensemble was launched during the last weekend of Melbourne’s premier jazz club, Bennetts Lane. Bennetts Lane will be re-opening in another venue mid 2017. ARC (the Autonomous Resilience Collective) is dedicated to celebrating music of struggle, resistance and revolution from around the world. ARC will have a different line up each time we perform but for the first concert it featured NY based British saxophonist Will Vinson, NY based drummer Rajiv Jayaweera, along with percussionist Javier Fredes, guitarist Craig Fermanis, electric bassist Chris Hale and pianist Sam Keevers.   My regular modern original quartet BforChicken are back at our 303 Residency on Wednesdays night through February and March. Admission is $10 On a more traditional note, The Stretchropolitans are doing some shows round town, a relatively new quartet celbrating and stretching music from the early part of last century. The Stretchos are Sam Anning (bass) Craig Fermanis (guitar) Matt Jodrell (trumpet and myself on various tubes. The Transients Trio with Anning and Andrea Keller continues to do some shows around town. School’s nearly back. See you out there. Watch out for ARC....

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2017: Try turning it OFF and ON again

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2016 came to a close (musically and personally) with an extended season at Bennetts Lane culminating in an all too rare gig with my trio aka ‘Julio & the Stevies’. 2017 is opening in a similar fashion: an extra special event and lots of gigs at Bennetts Lane. It’s going to be hard to top the first gig of the year. The 12ToneDiamonds reunion at 303 on Jan 4th was totally insane. Thanks to all who turned up to kick the year off in style. Hopefully Thai will come back from NY once a year so we can make it an annual thing. There’s still a lot of unrecorded material that we need to document. Here’s a visual document Who knows what the rest of 2017 holds, but it looks like it’s off to a positive musical start. Best to focus on the positives at this point. January 20th (an auspicious date globally) marks the end of an era of Radio National being a great place for contemporary Australian music. The POSITIVE NEWS here is that due to intense lobbying by the general public and the music industry at large, consolidated by the savernmusic campaign, ABC management definitely haven’t been able to ignore our voices and a number of politicians are taking notice and even taking a stand on the issue of representing independent Australian musicians. The Save Radio National Music! Campaign has created a strong unified voice of grassroots advocacy for musicians in this country. Something that has been sorely lacking for decades. Many, many organisations, institutions, venues, performers, promoters, festivals and fans have come together and stood up to be counted. Conspicuously absent throughout the entire campaign, despite numerous efforts to engage them and seek public support and endorsement are the Musicians Union. We as musicians need a voice to advocate for us, and that has unfortunately never been forthcoming from the Muso’s Union, at least during my career. On a POSITIVE NOTE this movement feels like the start of something much bigger. January is normally a quiet month but this year there’s lots to be excited about. Apart from the 12TD’s gig I just recorded with Osunlade for his next album on Yoruba Records, and there are heaps of wonderful gigs coming up, most of which are with the wonderful bassist (and extraordinary human) Sam Anning. We’re playing together regularly in a trio with Andrea Keller,...

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Julien Wilson Quintet review: No fake excitement: this was the real thing

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Julien Wilson Quintet review: No fake excitement: this was the real thing

REVIEW AUGUST 8 2016 John Shand JULIEN WILSON QUINTET Photo by Peter Karp The Sound Lounge, August 6 ★★★★½ Excitement can be faked, but this was the real thing. You felt the packed room of disparate souls knitting together in a shared response to exhilarating music. The Julien Wilson Quartet won much acclaim for swimming in the most central channel of the wide river called jazz. That band (with Wilson on tenor, pianist Barney McAll and bassist Jonathan Zwartz) boasted the much-loved Allan Browne on drums, and a year after his death this quintet line-up launched This Narrow Isthmus with drummer Hamish Stuart and guitarist Carl Dewhurst. Wilson formed the original quartet specifically to explore ballads, but it grew to be feistier than that on his original material, and this quintet further raised the energy stakes. To hear such a thrilling concert two days after witnessing the extraordinary Ornette Coleman tribute at 505 suggests Australian jazz is sunning itself in a golden age. Dewhurst played in both, here crafting fragile sighs and cries on Rainman, and on Weeping Willow dirtying up his sound and the music with a solo to singe the hairs in your ears. This piece had begun with astounding unaccompanied bass from Zwartz in which a kalimba-like motif of singing harmonics interacted with an earthier groove, so it became a dialogue between light and dark. The opening Cautiously Optimistic had Wilson building to torrential power, and on the gorgeous ballad Bernie (for Bernie McGann) his sound seemed to expand until it sprawled across the room in a great, warm airstream of sonic opulence. This piece also had McAll using octaves to fashion lines of such uncanny lyricism as could engender multiple new compositions. McGod contained volatile exchanges with Stuart and his round-sounding drums and brilliant cymbals that could explode like bombs in so many china shops. Earlier Laurence Pike created an enthralling 40-minute solo piece for drum-kit and sampler. This was a genuine duet in which the foreground shifted between electronics and drums, the latter played with a wealth of melodic, rhythmic, textural and colouristic...

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Breaking News

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Breaking News

Jan2016: 2016 has got off to an absolutely cracking start. Stu Hunter’s new Epic suite The Migration was launched at the Sydney Festival on Jan 9th. Andrea Keller, Sam Anning and I debuted the new Transients Trio at Lazarus Lane.  Zac Hurren and I toured Australia playing music from David Ades’ A LIFE IN A DAY, the first album to be released on Lionsharecords that doesn’t feature one of my own groups. There was some great press for Dave’s album and the gigs that I’ve placed in the news section below including a 5star CD review from the Sydney Morning Herald, a CD review from DowntownMusicGallery in New York, live reviews from the SMH, The Age and Adelaide Advertiser and editorials by Melbourne International Jazz Festival, JazzAustralia and the ByronBay Echo. Speaking of 5star reviews Jazz.org just published one for my latest quartet album This Narrow Isthmus. It’s being officially launched in March on the opening night of the Inaugural St Kilda Summer Jazz Festival. On top of that, Barney McAll played his first ASIO show as a Melbourne resident at Paris Cat and Virus Quintet have a new residency south of the river on Sunday afternoons from 3-6 at a great little restaurant called Osti. Lets hope the rest of the year can keep up with all the excitement! Nov2015: The follow up album to This Is Always has just been released. Recorded live in Sydney, This Narrow Isthmus is now available on CD and as a 24bit download. Australian alto sax legend David Ades’ final album A Life In A Day has been released concurrently through Lionsharecords. It features an 8 page booklet with liner notes, photos and art by Dave’s family and friends. ‘This is Always’ initial pressing sold out in less than a year. On May 1st 2014 Julien became the first recipient of three concurrent Australian Jazz ‘Bell’ Awards for: Best Australian Jazz Ensemble – Julien Wilson Quartet Best Traditional Jazz Album – This is Always Best Australian Jazz Song of the Year – Trout River Click here for recent CD...

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Live Reviews – May/June 2014

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Live Reviews – May/June 2014

Julien Wilson Quartet review: Tenor sax proves he’s up there with the greats June 15, 2014 – John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Springwood Presbyterian Hall, June 14 The tenor saxophone is so deeply embedded in jazz that the sound of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster or John Coltrane is like the music’s conscience. The recent rush of international artists through Sydney brought the profundity of Charles Lloyd’s tenor and the quicksilver of Joshua Redman’s. Then along comes Melbourne’s Julien Wilson, the spiritual heir to Australia’s ultimate tenor players: Merv Acheson and Mark Simmonds. Wilson’s ‘This Is Always’ opus, which recently cleaned up at the Australian Jazz Awards, is his most conventional jazz album, played by a band drawn from Melbourne, New York and Sydney. Unfortunately health issues kept veteran drummer Alan Browne away, and Wilson opted for the polar-opposite Simon Barker. Where Browne upholstered these songs in velvet Barker overlaid rhythmic puzzles and heightened drama. At first his wilder extravagances seemed an imposition when Wilson, pianist Barney McAll and bassist Jonathan Zwartz were all playing within the expected, accepted idiom. But as the concert progressed, and the more fascinating Barker’s conceptual challenges became, the more the band adjusted to his radically different, imaginative and periodically thrillingly primal input. Sometimes Wilson played so gently that it was no more than breathing coloured by sound. A long melodic line would trail off so gradually that an outline of unheard notes seemed to haunt the air. On Ellington’s The Feeling of Jazz each note sprawled voluptuously from the horn, and on his Aberdeen Wilson built such tension that his tenor threatened to explode across the turbulence forged by the band. Wine and Water had the saxophone subsiding into utter desolation following an introduction from Zwartz that was full of mystery, and yet unfolded as naturally as the seasons. McAll then reminded us that as well as being among the most rhythmically buoyant musicians Australia has produced he has an equally rare ability to create crystalline states of suspended animation. Make no mistake: this band was just as exceptional and distinctive as Redman’s, and the tenor playing more so.    2014 Melbourne International Jazz Festival Excerpts “Melbourne saxophonist Julien Wilson won three prizes at the Bell Awards last month, so expectations were high for his quartet — and they delivered mightily in one of the best performances of...

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The year’s most exhilarating night of music

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Barney McAll review: The year’s most exhilarating night of music July 26, 2015 – John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald Reviewer rating: 4.5*s Barney McAll’s ASIO 505, July 25 Duke Ellington wrote compositions with specific members of his magnificent orchestra in mind and Thelonious Monk wrote to suit his singular approach to the piano. Given that the jazz composer’s job is to inspire improvisers, Barney McAll has succeeded brilliantly with material primarily from the Mooroolbark album he was launching, with the first set of this concert among the year’s most exhilarating hours of music. Jendhi saw guitarist Stephen Magnusson build an engrossing solo starting with just the faintest cries. February had tenor saxophonist Julien Wilson boiling and roaring and then sliding something sly into the tumult, before returning to bulldozing the room with the most potent tenor to be heard in Australia these days. He stormed across Sigil with stupendous power, his sound so massive it seemed to threaten the structural integrity of the saxophone’s bell, before McAll cast such a spell at the piano that he even created the illusion of bending notes. The piece’s wildly rhythmic climax had the tenor and guitar sharing a repeated unison line blasted with punctuations by McAll, Jonathan Zwartz’s bass and Hamish Stuart’s drums. The energy reached such a pitch that the audience was spontaneously erupting in enthusiasm and disbelief. Then Non-Compliance had Magnusson sculpting another solo of such invention and beauty that it again broke free of gravity, fuelled by Stuart’s drums. The second set began with two new pieces written under McAll’s current Peggy Glanville-Hicks Composers’ Trust Fellowship. The first, a homage to the late Allan Browne, had a swelling and ebbing melody that seemed to melt time, its gentleness establishing the tone for much of the set. The second new one was more complex, and while the performance was far from assured, this did not prevent Wilson’s tenor erupting once more like some Indonesian volcano. McAll featured in the dream-like Nectar Spur and the rampant gospel of Apple Tree, which had a spirited, almost bludgeoning bass solo from Zwartz and typically infectious, galvanising drumming from Stuart. This story was found at:...

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