Since the release of her first album in 2000, jazz pianist and composer Andrea Keller has established herself as an important contributor to Australian jazz and contemporary music. Dedicated to the performance and creation of contemporary, original jazz and improvised music, she has been described as having “one of Australia’s most consistently interesting musical minds” (Doug Spencer 2007).
Best known for leading the Andrea Keller Quartet and the Bartok Project, Keller has been a member of many contemporary jazz ensembles and duos. She was a founding member of the Bennetts Lane Big Band, and her performance calendar is increasingly marked by solo concert performances.
As a composer and arranger, Keller has received commissions from a broad spectrum of musicians, ensembles and organizations. She is a represented artist of the Australian Music Centre.
Keller’s music has attracted high acclaim in Australia, winning her three Aria Awards, four Australian Jazz ‘Bell’ Awards, an Art Music Award, an MCA/Freedman Foundation Jazz Fellowship, and an Australia Council Fellowship.
“Her work is always lit brightly by the spark of originality.”
– Roger Mitchell, 2012.
“One of this country’s most daring and fascinating composers, she produces work that bristles with surprises, a powerful blend of European lyricism with space and improvisation.”
– Leon Gettler, 2005.
Stephen Magnusson is considered one of Australia’s most accomplished, versatile and distinct musicians with incredible technique and an astoundingly beautiful tone. His hectic schedule shows that he is a delight to work with and someone that has ‘something to say’ in the world of improvised music.
He was given his first ukulele at 3, his first guitar at 6 and began performing at 10 on an electric guitar that he loaned from his schoolteacher. At 13, he started to study under the guidance of Gordon Pendleton at the Box Hill Tafe and discovered the world of improvised music.
In 1986, he studied at the esteemed Victorian College of the Arts under the supervision of some of Australia’s finest musicians – Tony Gould, Bob Sedergreen and Mike Doyle. Here he expanded his practice regime and playing. He joined various bands playing numerous styles and developed an understanding of different methods. But, his main focus remained, to develop and hone the craft of mastering the guitar.
He travelled to Europe and lived there and after being appointed on the staff at The Academy of Contemporary Music (Zurich) in 1997, Stephen met his long time collaborator – Sergio Beresovsky. They began to perform regularly with Swedish bassist – Bjorn Meyer and in the July of the same year, Australian saxophonist Julien Wilson travelled to meet and play with the trio. After the first week of playing, they formed SNAG and produced a self-titled album (released in Australia ‘Hey Guess What’).
After 3 years of living in Zurich, Stephen returned to Melbourne in August 2000. He entered the National Jazz Award at Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival, were he tied for first place amongst much controversy. At this festival he performed with his trio featuring Sergio and Eugene Ball. This recorded result is captured on the CD ‘Healing Songs’.
He has worked with many artists including Charlie Haden, Meshell Ndegeocello, Ricki Lee Jones, Sinead O’Connor, John Cale, Gurrumul Yunupingu, Paul Grabowsky, Vince Jones, Katie Noonan, Lisa Young, Christine Sullivan, Michelle Nicole, Martin Breeze, The Assumptions Trio, Megan Washington, Paul Kelly, Jim Black, Mike Nock, Barney McAll, Enrico Rava, Arthur Blythe and many others. As a part of the Katie Noonan trio Elixir, the ensemble won the ARIA for Best Jazz Album in 2011.
In 2013, Stephen was awarded the Melbourne Prize for Outstanding Musician, and the Australian Jazz Bell Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album with his quartet MAGNET (with Carl Pannuzzo, Eugene Ball and Sergio Beresovsky).
Stephen is currently concentrating on writing for his duo Boundaries with Frank DiSario, and trio MAG featuring DiSario and Dave Beck. He will also be completing the second release from MAGNET, SOM.
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