After a year of a closures and uncertainty, firebrand trumpet player Harry James Angus is looking to bring a little joy back into the unknown.
Angus will be in Adelaide to perform alongside a cohort of the top performing graduates from the Elder Conservatorium Jazz Program at the University of Adelaide and is excited to take the audience on an ad hoc ride.
“What I would really like to do is demonstrate how somewhere in between the confidence of walking on stage without a plan, but also having a little bit of a plan is where great improvisation happens,” he says.
“And I think when you give improvisers the tools to really play with a little bit more theatricality and a little bit more emotion and mood, that’s when real magic can happen.”
For those who are in the room on the night, this means a rare insight into the spontaneity that makes live jazz an experience unto itself.
Or as Angus puts it: “We’ll venture into the wilderness together.”
This isn’t the first time he has partnered with the Helpmann Academy to support emerging musicians. In 2018 and again in 2020, he shared his experience and technical knowledge in an intimate masterclass setting.
“Helpmann got me to do a masterclass maybe four or five years ago and I rocked up and I just couldn’t believe such an excellent resource for musicians exists in Adelaide. I couldn’t believe that they had that going on. It’s great.”
Engaging with the next generation of music makers is an important part of Angus’s craft, with the seasoned performer stating that it is in those interactions that real musicians are made.
“Everything I’ve learned, whether it’s from a structured environment or a non-structured environment, comes from real musical relationships,” he says.
“So, the teacher-student relationship is really important, but really once I start thinking about being an artist and think about ‘What do I actually want to say with music?’, that comes from conversations with other artists and looking at other artists’ work.
“It’s like your technique and your technical ability and your craft is your coat hanger and then you need a coat to hang on it. And I guess that’s the stories and the tradition, but also giving someone the confidence to just do their own thing as well.”
It’s a focus that has grown in significance since the onset of the pandemic and the catastrophic effect that restrictions have had on the live music scene. When reflecting on the events of the past year, Angus offers up a little hope for the future.
“I think there’s going to be a real shift towards music being in the community and being actively supported by the community – I suppose, in the way that the Helpmann Academy already does in Adelaide,” he says.
“Early career artists may not be established, but that is where the ideas are coming from. There are very few artists my age or above who are pushing the envelope and providing the creative fire that’s going to spread through the community and inspire everyone.”
“They need to be supported because they are the ones keeping the conversation going.”
The Helpmann Academy will be presenting more than $20,000 in awards to outstanding jazz graduates from the University of Adelaide on the night.
A Night of Jazz with Harry James Angus has been rescheduled since publication of this article. It will now be at 7pm on Friday, September 24, at Elder Hall. Tickets: $30 + booking fee. Book here.
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