The International Women’s Jazz Festival is set to be bigger and better this year, and among the local music talent is Melbourne-based trio, Lijuka, who will be opening for internationally-acclaimed virtuoso, Hyelim Kim, on December 5 at the Jazzlab.
Lijuka’s drummer, Julia Bebenek is pumped: “Oh, I’m excited. So, excited. I can’t wait.”
“It’s the most important festival I’ve played, for me as a musician. I’ve always loved jazz as an improv thing more than anything.”
It’s a big deal for the recently formed trio who have barely been together for one year having met through the Bachelor of Music at Melbourne Polytechnic.
Julia says the group formed an instant chemistry after their first jam session.
“You know when things happen so naturally, they just click, that was what we got straight away.”
With the whole group on vocals, Katrina Owen on saxophone and Libby Ferris on guitar the group’s “unique sound swings from ambient drone based musings to jazz-infused grooves,” according to the festival website.
Julia says the group draw their sound partly from what the trio lacks, which is a bass, piano or keys player, so often Libby’s saxophone provides the foundation for the harmony.
“Then,” says Julia, “I think a lot of our sound comes from improvising a lot together and using a lot of layers in electronics to provide foundation support. We draw a lot of inspiration from South Indian rhythm as well.”
Julia is just as keen to see what else is on at the festival as she is to be a part of it, listing pianist, Andrea Keller and compositional collective, QoQo8, which some of her teachers are part of, as must sees.
“When I see the teachers perform they set a really high standard and perform a high calibre of music.”
“They’ve spent their lives dedicated to it, so just being around that is really exciting and learning about what they have done in the past and reaching their goals makes you want to do the same.”
“Every teacher that I have at Melbourne Polytechnic and elsewhere I try to stick as close as I can and learn as much as I can and I think the three of us all do that.”
And, it's not by chance Julia feels this way. It's a mentoring methodology built into the structure of the course.
Guitarist and composer, Adam Starr is one of the teachers performing in QoQo8 at the festival and he says it’s more or less a requirement that teachers in the Bachelor of Music are busy gigging and working in the industry.
“It’s part of the job description, really, to be doing our thing at a high level.”
He says one of the core focuses of the bachelor is on ensemble playing, which helps students directly learn from teachers who are experts in particular styles.
“In some cases, the ensemble teacher actually performs as part of the ensemble. It also happens that we have these masterclass concerts where guest lecturers will present their work.”
“It’s a fantastic experience that is part of the traditional mentoring experience, where less experienced musicians learn from more experienced musicians by playing with them.”
Adam is proud of the work Lijuka are doing and says their future is bright.
“One thing I’ll say about Lijuka is that they have forged quite a unique sound. As individuals their sound is developing, but their ensemble sound is a real strength. It’s something fresh and interesting which attracted the attention of the festival organiser.”
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Media enquiries should be directed to Melbourne Polytechnic Media Officer, Anita Coia, on 03 9269 1251, mobile 0466 453 467, or ua.ud1521401982e.cin1521401982hcety1521401982lopen1521401982ruobl1521401982em@ai1521401982dem1521401982
Melbourne Polytechnic operates across seven campuses and five specialist training centres throughout Melbourne. The institute delivers high quality vocational and higher education in industry-standard facilities.
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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener.