An interview with Josh Kyle for Jazz Australia.
“the instrument possessing above all others the power to express the wide and varied range of emotions encompassed by the human voice…” – James Weldon Johnson
Josh Kyle is one of the most outstanding male jazz vocalist Australia has produced since a young Vince Jones emerged in the 70s. With three releases under his belt, his latest project takes the singer’s music into new and bold musical territory.
It’s a trombone party and Australia’s most celebrated trombonists have been invited. Kyle has assembled an exceptional quartet featuring Adrian Sherriff, James Greening, James Macaulay and Jordan Murray to perform original compositions written for voice and trombone. The eight tracks have been beautifully arranged by big band specialist Andrew Murray. We want to know more about this Trombone Song Cycle….
AC: So this project is a big departure from your previous albums. Is this a new direction for your music?
JK: I decided early on that I wasn’t interested in creating the same album over and over so moving to a trombone quartet album to me, seemed like a totally logical idea. It’s really about following a musical idea and exploring along the way. That’s the main motivation for anything I do, its perhaps one of the benefits of being a vocalist that you can inhabit various musical landscapes and move freely between them. My musical interests are varied and my preferred mode of working is to, I feel my musical output should reflect that.
AC: So how did you decide on trombones for this project?
JK: Having worked with Andrew Murray on various big band projects many discussions were had around potential collaborations in the future. Talking about arranging inspiration and different ways extended techniques have been used vocally and how that might translate into an instrumental context all help crystalize the idea.
A long-time fascination for me was with the unique tone quality and sung like expression of the trombone. It has a very similar range to the male voice and its colour palate was vast and provided an exciting challenge to write and arrange for.
AC: Congratulations on assembling a bad-ass trombone quartet. Tell us a little bit about the musicians on the recording?
JK: I had always wanted to work with this particular line up of musicians, James Greening, Jordan Murray James Macaulay and Adrian Sherriff and this seemed like the perfect way to do that, a deep dive into the world of trombone. They all have a very unique voice and approach to playing that really makes for an exciting experience hearing them all together.
The most important thing that Andrew and I were very conscious of was making sure that the arrangements always kept these players in mind, this wasn’t about section playing or taking conventional SATB roles, it was about showcasing four unique voices who all bring experience and huge improvisational vocabulary to the work.
AC: I really like the way the arrangements leave room for interplay – it makes for some really beautiful moments. What was the story or inspiration behind the compositions?
JK: Trombone Song Cycle is a collection of obscure love songs, that try and flesh out the smallest of moments in a relationship. The moment of pause where you filter your next thought, that feeling right before you go to sleep, what do these moments sound like?
This was the motivation for the material coupled with a need to explore the full extent of my instrument (voice) and provide a vehicle for that exploration. The voice is unique in the way that it can communication directly with lyrics and just as effectively without them.
The immediacy of experience that only a voice can muster, and the infinite sound world it can create and inhabit make for very exciting possibilities.