James McLean, Freedman Jazz awards 2016 winner

“as a drummer you tend to work a lot as a sideman, so whilst you might generate a positive reputation amongst musicians it’s difficult to translate that into a broader profile.”

Last night judges named James McLean the latest Freedman winner. Panel consisted of jazz musician/composers Stu Hunter, Laurence Pike and Brendan Clarke.

McLean has been the first drummer in the award’s fourteen year history to be named as a Freedman Jazz Fellow. In an unusual twist, McLean also performed as the drummer in friend and fellow finalist, pianist Joseph O’Connor’s trio before leading his own winning performance.

O’Connor’s set was intense and highly disciplined, adding to the jazz tradition elements of both early and avant-garde classical music. The final performance of the evening was contributed by a trio led by pianist Luke Sweeting whose influences also included classical music from the impressionist period.

Drummer James McLean will use the Fellowship award to establish five new duos with distinguished Australian artists. Their work will be compiled into an album and released. Collaborating artists would be Simon Barker (drums), Chris Hale (electric bass), Andrea Keller (piano), Gian Slater (vocal), and Scott Tinkler (trumpet). 

James McLean previous Jazz Australia article