13-piece powerhouse Sirens Big Band plus featured soloists Andrea Keller, Sandy Evans and Gian Slater, present Ellen Kirkwood’s epic 56-minute, four-part suite.
The magnum opus is Ellen’s emotive and captivating response to growing issues in a rapidly changing world: the wonder and malignance of the internet, the refugee crisis, greed and climate change, and reflections/reactions to the present.
[A]part traverses a diverse series of moods and influences. The musical metamorphosis from one section to another sees a vast array of ideas and styles including neo-classicism, chorale, afro-cuban, afrobeat and electronica. With echoes of Guillermo Klein and Carla Bley, Kirkwood’s imaginative and daring composition style is abundant here, as she draws listeners in with her narrative-style writing, full of character, feeling and unexpected twists. Listeners can expect an engrossing journey through music that evokes rage, bewilderment, calm, determination, and everything in between.
A dynamic collective bringing new sounds to the traditional big band setting, Sirens Big Band are passionate about increasing gender diversity in jazz through their predominantly female and trans line-up. Ellen Kirkwood, a member since Sirens’ formation in early 2010, has been an important contributor to the group’s unique repertoire. Pianist Andrea Keller, saxophonist Sandy Evans and vocalist Gian Slater are three of Australia’s most celebrated and in-demand jazz performer/composers, and have played a significant part in inspiring Ellen and her generation of creative jazz musicians.
[A]part was penned in 2016-17 during Ellen’s Australia Council-funded composition mentorship with composer/pianist Barney McAll. [A]part was a 2018 finalist in the APRA Art Music Awards for Jazz Work of the Year, and Ellen was a finalist in the 2017 Freedman Jazz Fellowships largely due to this work. The album was recorded and co-produced by Bob Scott at Sydney’s Studios 301 over three days in September 2018.
‘I’m really proud of this album, and this huge work,” says Kirkwood. “I think it’s important for artists to create works that comment on their times and connect emotionally with audiences. It’s easy to become complacent when the world’s problems seem too big, but I hope that my music can encourage people to keep feeling and striving.” On the experience of recording [A]part, she comments, “It was a big effort but a lot of fun, and an honour to have such an amazing group of musicians bring my work to life with passion, skill and dedication.”
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