Sophisticated and singular, pianist Novak Manojlovic’s rhythmically dense compositions and sonic layering took out the $20,000 cash prize at this year’s Freedman Jazz at the The Studio, Sydney Opera House on Sunday 8 September.

Running for 17 years, once again Freedman Jazz proved an enthralling and inspirational event. Each of the three finalists delivered exceptional sets, making the three judges’ final decision most difficult.

Competitors Elly Hoyt delivered a brave, audacious and poignant musical statement focusing on the plight of refugees to this country while accomplished pianist Harry Sutherland provided a beautifully understated and subtle interchange with trumpeter Tom Avgenicos.

But there could only be one winner, the 2019 Freedman Jazz Fellow Novak Manojlovic played a superb suite of original music utilizing both piano and synthesiser. In reference to all three performances, judge Mike Nock ONMZ commented on the lofty heights that jazz in Australia has reached.

Novak plans to use the $20,000 Freedman Fellowship prize to take his longstanding piano trio HEKKA (featuring Jacques Emery on bass and Tully Ryan on drums) on a 10-date national and international Oceanic tour, where they will collaborate with a projection artist residing in each city. A new, one hour set of music will be composed specifically for the trio and visuals.

Audiences were also treated to a unique set by the Hauptmann Trio, led by 2010 Freedman Jazz Fellow Ben Hauptmann accompanied by siblings Zoe and James.

Event: Freedman Jazz, The Studio, Sydney Opera House

Sunday 8 September 2019