Phoenix Central Park announces STRATA, a new jazz festival

Phoenix Central Park has unveiled a new four-day jazz festival that will run from March 31 through April 3. The festival, titled LAYERS, was curated by performer and songwriter Laurence Pike and will inhabit Sydney’s innovative performance space in Chippendale, which was founded in 2020 by Judith Neilson.

Phil Slater, whose quintet will perform at the Strata Festival in Phoenix Central Park.

Australia has always exceeded its weight in creative music, and the LAYERS program taps into the wealth of talent we have here,” said curator Laurence Pike. “Musicians I’ve had the privilege of listening to, learning from and working with, such as Mike Nock (who will perform his seminal album ECM Waves for the first time since its release 40 years ago); Phil Slater, whose band I consider to be one of the great Australian jazz bands; a welcome reunion for Triosk 15 years after their last performance; the figureheads of Melbourne’s burgeoning scene in Barney McAll, Andrea Keller and the visionary jazz-inspired electronic music of Nico Niquo; Words Fail (led by the inimitable Necks pianist Chris Abrahams), and a cross section of Sydney’s inspiring young generation of musicians such as Hekka, Microfiche, Holopeak and Hilary Geddes, who drive the music forward with a collective unity and intrepidity.

The festival starts on March 31. Acclaimed experimental electro jazz trio Triosk return for the first time since 2007. Consisting of Pike, pianist Adrian Klumpes and bassist Ben Waples, the trio received international acclaim for their album releases in the early 2000s. Nico Niquo is the solo project of Nico Callaghan, who over a series of albums has developed an esoteric sound world full of unlikely influences. LAYERS will be his first live performance of this material, performed alongside Felix Watson and Joseph Buchan.

The second day of the festival begins with the Hilary Geddes Quartet, led by guitarist Hilary Geddes. The award-winning band will perform works from their debut album, Park side, composed by Geddes herself. They will be followed by the piano trio Hekka, composed of pianist Novak Manojlovic, bassist Jacques Emery and drummer Tully Ryan. The evening will end with a performance by the singular Phil Slater Quintet, performing selections from their ARIA-nominated album. The dark pattern.

Hilary Geddes

Hilary Geddes

The third day of the festival begins in the evening with a performance by Microfiche. Influenced by the ideas of John Cage and Morton Feldman, Microfiche is a “community consciousness ensemble” of music makers bringing their unique, meditative soundscapes to Phoenix. Later, prolific pianist and composer Andrea Keller will be joined by bassist Sam Anning and saxophonist Julien Wilson to perform a collection of trios in her unique and unconventional style. Day three ends with a special performance by Australian jazz icon Mike Nock, commemorating 40 years since the release of his landmark album Waves.

The last day of LAYERS begins with an improvised set from the Sydney-based trio Holopeak. Since the release of his first album Summit completed, the band has developed a cult following for their intense live performances and unwavering belief. Afterwards, the new intergenerational trio Words Fail, composed of pianist Chris Abrahams, bassist Clayton Thomas and drummer Miles Thomas, will launch their self-titled debut album in a special performance for LAYERS. Finally, internationally acclaimed pianist and composer Barney McAll leads the Non Compliance Trio, along with Tom Botting and Alexander Inman-Hislop, in a rare performance in Sydney.

“I’ve always believed that jazz, improvisation, creative music, whatever you call it, is a way of making music, not a style. It is a balance of knowledge and instinct in which performer and listener can potentially experience the moment together. It’s a way of being present in the world,” Pike said. “STRATA represents the generational layers of this music rooted in our city. It’s an exciting opportunity to galvanize the art form in Sydney after a long period of disconnection, with the world-class venue of Phoenix Central Park providing a focal point for creativity and community.

Free tickets for LAYERS are available through a ballot. More information here.

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